Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Poetry favorites? #NPM17 #phenology

Do you have favorite poems, a favorite poet, a theme or genre that you particularly enjoy? If you do, you have a head start on the fifth way to celebrate National Poetry Month, you can "Create an anthology of your favorite poems on" If you haven't developed favorites yet, you can start an anthology of poems and poets you're enjoying reading and see if, over time, a theme emerges. Poetry can be like that.

both poetry and water hold magic
both poetry and water hold magic
Photo by J. Harrington

One of my favorite themes is water, particularly flowing water, although, if you think about it, all water is always flowing, even water frozen into ice flows as a glacier, some of which calf icebergs into the sea or oceans. The folks at the Academy of American Poets have provided a leg up on that theme by creating "Poems on Water for Teachers." (Full disclosure, I have used this posting as the trigger to actually go and create an account at Even [especially?] poets need to walk their talk.)

red maple bud burst, at last
red maple bud burst, at last
Photo by J. Harrington

Another theme that might be interesting, and challenging, to anthologize would be phenology. There is a Poetry in the Classroom Calendar, which might provide a framework for such an anthology, and, of course, there are haiku, which, in classical form, are supposed to reflect each of the seasons. Finally, for today, there is a wonderful anthology, Poets on Place, as well as Windfall, A journal of Poetry of Place, because, as "Wendell Berry, America’s best-known bioregionalist says “if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” The more we are familiar with our local environment, the sooner we act to protect it." At least that's the way it's supposed to work.

showing off his struttin' stuff
showing off his struttin' stuff
Photo by J. Harrington

Meanwhile, at our place, the Spring season is progressing nicely, albeit dryly, here in east central Minnesota. Sometime in the past day or two, the red maple buds finally burst. Yesterday morning half a dozen or so hen turkeys were scratching through sunflower seed droppings beneath the deck feeder while, up on the hillside, a tom turkey was displaying in his finest Spring mating season fashion. The girls were having none of it. The only love on their minds was a love of food. Eventually, they all went their separate ways through the woods, but it was kind of them to stop by and confirm that seasons, like water, are constantly flowing.

Three Haiku, Two Tanka

By Philip Appleman


       (after Bashō)

Clouds murmur darkly,
it is a blinding habit—
gazing at the moon.

       (after Buson)

Spring means plum blossoms
and spotless new kimonos
for holiday whores.

       (after Shiki)

Once more as I wait
for you, night and icy wind
melt into cold rain.


In the spring of joy,
when even the mud chuckles,
my soul runs rabid,
snaps at its own bleeding heels,
and barks: “What is happiness?”


She never saw fire
from heaven or hotly fought
with God; but her eyes
smolder for Hiroshima
and the cold death of Buddha.

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