A Portland Summer

The Poetic Asides prompt today was to write an “after the rain” poem. After the soggiest June on record, we have finally settled into seemingly endless days of summer sunshine here in the Rose City…

A Portland Summer

After the rain-
people stand ill at ease
because their favorite topic
has been exhausted

After the rain-
dahlias reach for the sky
and the grass grows
like there’s no tomorrow

After the rain-
lies a perfect summer
ready and waiting
to be enjoyed

Hearing Voices

There’s a great article today in the WOW! Women on Writing July/August 2010  newsletter by Cathy C. Hall, cleverly entitled Voice: Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are! The article goes on to discuss the importance of voice in fiction writing, although it can equally well apply to creative non-fiction writing. For the writer, having a clever plot, believable dialog, and the perfect setting is only part of the equation. The story can still be doomed if the writer does not have a distinctive voice that draws the reader in immediately. Think To Kill a Mockingbird. Think Catcher in the Rye. Think about your own favorite literary voice, and what makes it work for you.

I even was quoted in the article, about one of my favorite voices in fiction. Read the article to find out who it is!

Sketchbook online

The May/June 30, 2010 Volume 5, Issue 3 of Sketchbook is now online. Sketchbook is “A Journal for Eastern & Western Short Forms”, and is chockful of poetry and related articles by poets around the globe. I have four haiku in the “beach” haiku thread, all of which were named Editor’s Choice by John Daleiden.

And I also have three haiku appearing in the “morning breeze” Kukai. I got my best ever Sketchbook finish, with a third place for my “morning breeze…” haiku (and tie sixth places for my  “first light…” and “heat wave” haiku).

I have already started penning haiku for the July/August “fruit” haiku thread  and the “new coolness”/”lingering heat” Kukai!

War and Peas

Great Big Tent Poetry prompt this week. We were to take a well known word couple and let one of the words go a little “sideways”. Their example was of a “Love-Hat” relationship. Mine was War and Peas. Read more poetic responses on Big Tent Poetry.

Vegetable War and Peas

I ask her to try some carrots
To this she wrinkles her nose
Cauliflower? Cabbage? Broccoli?
You know I don’t eat those!

Maybe asparagus, kale, kohlrabi
Or green beans almondine
Wax beans, favas or limas?
Not any kind of bean!

I offer her corn on the cob
Lettuce, mustard green,
Vegetables common or exotic
And everything in between

But nothing seems to tempt her
She’s just not into the bounty of plants
Please, I finally beg her
At least give peas a chance!

Life Under Melting Arctic Ice

The Poetic Asides prompt today was to pick from one of five news headlines and write a poem:

  • Spectator falls from 2nd deck
  • Life under melting Arctic ice
  • Disheartened by the disaster
  • The Many Voices of Lauryn Hill
  • If You Can’t Take the Heat, Use Fewer Jalapenos

All the headlines were  grabby in their own way, but I just had to learn more about the melting Arctic ice, and in fact got waylaid by reading the article and watching the video.  Several times in fact. Amazing.

ice recedes-
a pristine world

suddenly revealed

Two Haiku

Only one week into it, I can see that writing posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday is going to be a challenge. But when the going gets tough, the tough get tougher. 🙂

Haikuworld just announced the results of the June Shiki Kukai, and I was delighted to see that my free form Kukai took 5th place. I entered my first two haiku in March, and to my chagrin, received no votes. But I am a quick study, and after four months, am beginning to appreciate what makes one haiku really stand out, while another is merely okay. And how some of that is simply personal taste. My two haiku from this month: (“fifth birthday party…” was the 5th place winner)

fifth birthday party —
the oak adds
another ring


the drowsy murmur
of waves…
sun warm on my back

Unanswered Questions

It’s summer– time to dabble more in poetry and try new things. In this spirit, I thought I would give Big Tent Poetry prompts a try. The prompt for this week was to write a “conversation poem”, and then post the link to this week’s Come One, Come All section.  This is my response.

Unanswered Questions

Is this the end of the line,
he asks her, and she hesitates.
Every day he is slipping away from her,
receding to some faraway place,
where she cannot follow.
He remembers events
from 50 years ago, clearly,
as if they were only yesterday,
but not what day it is,
or even what he had for breakfast.
If she says yes, is she denying him hope?
If she says no, is she lying to him?
I don’t know, what do you think, she asks,
but already, something else has caught his attention,
and the words hang unanswered between them.

First Friday Post

Ah, summer. A time to slow down, and a time to catch up on some of the reading I’ve been planning to do all year. I have a big stack of books waiting for me, and I’m eager to get at them! This is the first of what I hope will be a summer long series of book and/or movie reviews, posted on Fridays.

I finished four books this week, all excellent:

The Pale of Settlement, by Margot Singer
This is a collection of linked short stories, that all have as their central character Susan, the American born daughter of Israeli immigrants. The stories span in time  from the 1982 war in Lebanon, through the suicide bombings of 2003, deftly weaving in current events with the personal history of Susan’s family, and exploring the connection between identity, family, and memory. Beautifully written, this is an excellent read.

Bone Worship, by Elizabeth Eslami
This fiction work centers around Jasmine Fahroodhi, the daughter of an Iranian father and an American mother. When Jasmine returns home after failing to graduate from college, her father launches a plan to arrange a marriage for her.   This is a coming of age story about one young woman’s search to discover who she is in this world, and her attempt to understand her enigmatic immigrant father.  The ending seemed a bit glossy to me, but I still found the book to be an easy and interesting read.

Like the Heart, the World, by Sage Cohen
I met Sage recently at a bridge and poetry walk, and was moved by hearing Sage read the title story from this poetry collection. These poems are divided into three  sections: New York, San Francisco, and Portland, corresponding to places Sage has lived. All the poems are rich in imagery, and intertwine self-reflection with accurate observations of the outside world. This is a poetry collection that can be read again and again.

Deer Drink the Moon, edited by Liz Nakazawa
Ooligan Press published this collection of Oregon poetry. The sections are divided by geographical regions: Coastal Range, Willamette Valley, Cascades, Eastern Cascade Slopes and Foothills, Blue Mountains, Klamath Mountains, and Northern    Basin and Range. There are many well known poets included in this collection,   such as William and Kim Stafford, Judith Barrington, Floyd Skloot, and newly named Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Peterson, but these are by no means the only poets that are engaging. I found the collection well rounded, and discovered new local poets to keep my eye on. I also enjoyed getting a sense of other regions in Oregon, as I have rarely ventured outside Willamette Valley, Mt. Hood, and the coastal beaches.