April 24, 2010

Today’s device from William Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices is

Oxymoron:  A radical paradox; a conjunction of extreme opposites.  “Dry ice is so cold that it burns” is an example of oxymoron.

In poetry, oxymoron also functions metaphorically (see METAPHOR) to express a state of ambivalence or contradiction. …

Old Lamb
(by Suzanne Baldwin Leitner)

“What did the tired nurse
say to the complaining
‘Take your Oxy

And that’s what
every interminable
minute was like
with him: a slow
trot from one
sad joke
to the next.

April 23, 2010: Just say noh (oh, brother)

From William Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices:

Noh:  A tradition in Japanese poetry and theater that is over six hundred years old; called “the immeasurable scripture” because it is a synthesis of song and dance and poetry and drama and religion. …

Well, obviously no noh happens in one sitting, and it won’t be happening here! My only other option under “N” is a cross-reference (NARRATIVE  See DRAMATIC-NARRATIVE POETRY; GENRES) and I am too much of a purist to fool with cross references for this exercise.

We shall, however, honor the Japanese poetry form with a tanka.  Thanks for reading!


The calm that settles
over us before a storm
is a counterfeit;
it is not fury’s absence.
It is fury coiling up.

-Suzanne Baldwin Leitner

April 22, 2010 (and Happy Earth Day)

Today’s device from William Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices is

Macaronics:  The use of foreign words to enrich the texture of DICTION in a poetic line.  The most common practice of macaronics is the mixture of vernacular worlds with Latin words, but macaronics can be any combination of two or more languages in any given passage.

I tried to use today’s device as a forced writing exercise, comfortable in the notion that poets all over the country are doing something similar, either through a collective daily writing prompt, or some other self-imposed practice.  In other words, what follows is a draft – but I’m sure it isn’t the only draft on the internet today!  Thanks for reading! Continue reading “April 22, 2010 (and Happy Earth Day)”

April 21, 2010

Today would have been my grandmother’s birthday.  Happy birthday, Mammaw.

A granddaughter asks …

Some time when you are yourself
again, before heaven comes for you
and you’ve said all you’re going to say
tell the secrets you know about girls
and women and why we cannot and can
unfix and fix everything while someone
else waits, or pushes
or falls away, and why didn’t you ever say
sewing is solemn when done for the last
child or first and the talk of chores
becomes sacred curses in throats gone
gravelly from singing and thirst? Will we forever
look for what used to be ours?
Why did we ever loan it
then take it back after letting someone and everyone
else cut it to fit one size, down to size
or up to the mark, swapped over
and over, worn out
from coveting, cherishing, being lost
or trashed for duty’s sake or beauty’s
lure or whatever, whenever it happened ago?
Was yours worth no more than a pear tree’s leaves
stolen fearlessly in children’s play,
numerous, waxy tangibles
good things to trade for kisses?

(from String Quilt, poems by Suzanne Baldwin Leitner, Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2005)

April 20, 2010

Hello, all.  This evening’s quick post is a nod to the

Metaphor:  Any figure that asserts the equivalence of two or more disparate elements, as in mathematics, for example, when one states A=B.  Thus in Martin Luther’s classic metaphor, “A mighty fortress is our God,” God is claimed to be the same as a fortress stronghold.

from William Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices.

The cool thing about Packard’s discussion of metaphor is the multiple examples he gives of the different kinds of metaphors, including, but not limited to,  the double metaphor, the negative metaphor, and the tentative metaphor. Continue reading “April 20, 2010”

My Inauspicious Return

Virtual life had to give way to real life for the last 3 days, so I will carry National Poetry Month three days into May in order to fulfill my stated purpose of a poem a day in celebration of poetry.

Today’s device from William Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary:  A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices is (oh, dear)

    Limerick:  Usually anonymous five-line light verse poem, generally with surprise or eccentric RHYMES, with first and second and fifth lines in anapestic trimeter [ . . / . . /. . / ], and with a rhyme scheme of a/a/b/b/a.  Limericks often play on geographical or proper names, and commonly treat an outrageous subject irreverently.

    Critical comment on the limerick tends to stress its anti-literary pedigree; thus Arnold Bennett said, “All I have to say about limericks is that the best ones are entirely unprintable.”  George Bernard Shaw commented, “They are most unfit for publication.  They must be left for oral tradition.”  Film director Mike Nichols, commenting on a limerick contest he was once asked to judge said, “It was easy.  We just threw out the dirty limericks and gave the prize to the one that was left.”

    Commenting on the technical effect of a limerick, Morris Bishop wrote in The New York Times Book Review: “The structure should be a rise from the commonplace reality of line one to logical madness in line five.” Continue reading “My Inauspicious Return”

What’s so funny about losing your document? I’ll tell you: April 15

Before we get down to business, I would like to take this opportunity to take advantage of a “teachable moment.”

As you may know, yesterday I worked most of the day on a poem and then lost it because I did not save it before I closed it.  When I realized I had closed my document without saving it, I did what any doe-eyed dreamer would do, and googled the phrase “I just closed a document in Word I didn’t save. Can I get it back?”  Note how quickly desperation renders one inarticulate.  Furthermore, it is rather difficult to type and think while rending one’s garments and howling like a wolf (a wolf which, apparently, has spent some time in the Navy).

However, in spite of my inartful phrasing, Google led me to Word Tips World: Forgot to save my Word Document!! Well!  That sounds like the place for me, and I especially relate to the use of double exclamation points (even though I was feeling more quadruple pointy at the time – this was a Code Red, after all).  I found a good bit of useful information on that page, but my heart sank when I realized that the following advice there applied to my exact situation:

1) SCENARIO: Forgot to save the document at all, even when exiting Word/closed Word without saving!

“Yes!” I cried.  “That’s me!  That’s exactly what I did!  Oh, joy! Somebody out there gets me!” [read, read, read, scan, scan, scan, searching for answer]

To the best of my knowledge, if you press NO at this point [when prompted “Do you want to save changes to the Document?”] there is no way to retrieve the document.

“What?!?!  But wait – there’s more writing after this!  If I’m really hosed, why are there more paragraphs down there?” Oh, trust me.  In my head, the running monologue was even more irrational.

SOLUTION: weep quietly …[then there are suggestions to try, in case I really hadn’t made that bonehead move that I knew I really had made.  End of story.  Full stop]

Okay, in all seriousness, I am glad I stumbled upon that site.  I like how it is written with clear illustrations, instructions and humor, and it is now bookmarked as one of my favorites.  Imagine my dismay, however, when I realized that, not only had I made an irreversible mistake with my document, I also had failed to apply the only known solution to my problem properly … because what I did could not be considered, in any universe, “weeping quietly.”

As you know, I reconstructed/revised the poem as best I could and ended up with what I ended up with, and I’m okay with it.  Having thought about it, and applied some much-needed perspective, these glitches happen in life, and, yes, I think it did warrant weeping quietly.  However, the second dose of the prescription ought to be, in many cases, laugh loudly in response to the memory of the glitch within 72 hours of enduring it; otherwise, you might find yourself kicking the cat for no good reason (no cats were harmed in the making of this post – I don’t even have a cat).   Continue reading “What’s so funny about losing your document? I’ll tell you: April 15”