Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Open mics and opening buds #NPM17 #phenology

I think yesterday I inadvertently included part of what should be today's, day 12's, way to celebrate National Poetry Month when I mentioned The Poet's Corner at Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community. It's not quite an "open mic," but it is a way to meet other local writers, and that's the point of today's suggested activity: "Read a poem at an open mic. It’s a great way to meet other writers in your area and find out about your local poetry writing community." There's also the League of Minnesota Poets, something not mentioned yesterday. [Check for a local chapter.] There are some open mic opportunities in Minnesota, largely in the Twin Cities. You can find them with a Google search.

Minnesota also offers several writers' groups that share information on reading and local writing contests and publications. The Jackpine Writers' Bloc publishes an annual literary journal, Talking Stick, and shares email announcements about other readings and meetings, etc. I have enjoyed the experience of an audience's reaction to my poems each time I've read. Remember, the poet starts the poem, but the reader, or listener, finishes it.

Yesterday I noticed several more signs of Spring starting as the snow melted. Day lilies have emerged. One of the rose bushes has leaf buds bursting. Leaf out is occurring on other bushes and the forsythia's stems are greening up. If anyone can suggest the identity of the leafed out stems that are in the picture, I'd appreciate it. Clouds are forecast for much of the rest of the week and into the weekend. I'm getting tempted to modify some of the lyrics of Joni Mitchell's wonderful Both Sides Now: I've looked at clouds from both sides now, from wet and dry but still somehow, it's clouds' conclusion I do call, I've had enough of clouds for now.

day lilies emerging, unidentified leafed-out stems in background
day lilies emerging, unidentified leafed-out stems in background
Photo by J. Harrington

close-up of unidentified leaves
close-up of unidentified leaves
Photo by J. Harrington

Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of their Titles


By Billy Collins


It seems these poets have nothing
up their ample sleeves
they turn over so many cards so early,
telling us before the first line
whether it is wet or dry,
night or day, the season the man is standing in,
even how much he has had to drink.

Maybe it is autumn and he is looking at a sparrow.
Maybe it is snowing on a town with a beautiful name.

"Viewing Peonies at the Temple of Good Fortune
on a Cloudy Afternoon" is one of Sun Tung Po's.
"Dipping Water from the River and Simmering Tea"
is another one, or just
"On a Boat, Awake at Night."

And Lu Yu takes the simple rice cake with
"In a Boat on a Summer Evening
I Heard the Cry of a Waterbird.
It Was Very Sad and Seemed To Be Saying
My Woman Is Cruel—Moved, I Wrote This Poem."

There is no iron turnstile to push against here
as with headings like "Vortex on a String,"
"The Horn of Neurosis," or whatever.
No confusingly inscribed welcome mat to puzzle over.

Instead, "I Walk Out on a Summer Morning
to the Sound of Birds and a Waterfall"
is a beaded curtain brushing over my shoulders.

And "Ten Days of Spring Rain Have Kept Me Indoors"
is a servant who shows me into the room
where a poet with a thin beard
is sitting on a mat with a jug of wine
whispering something about clouds and cold wind,
about sickness and the loss of friends.

How easy he has made it for me to enter here,
to sit down in a corner,
cross my legs like his, and listen.


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