Here We Are Again

April is poetry month, and I find that wholly appropriate, moreso this year than ever before (do I say this every year?).  In the region where I live, April is a changeable month, duplicitous almost.  It has its warm, promising, lush green days, punctuated with the slate-gray, cold, wet remnants of March.  It is exciting; it is a time that cries out for renewed passion; it is forlorn; it is a time that calls for caution.  A person with a weather eye learns to manage expectations, to ration his or her hopefulness, to maintain contact with reality while still dreaming of new possibilities.

April is poetry. Continue reading “Here We Are Again”

Ready or Not. Ready is Better.

I am preparing to celebrate my daughter’s graduation from high school tomorrow (read: I am a wreck).  Tensions are high.  Reflections are many.  Conversations are, well, just strange.  The destination is the tearful and sloppy “We’re proud of you … we love you … thank you” that we will experience tomorrow.  The journey is not as simple.

I was thinking this morning about how this graduation is a shared milestone; then, I realized that phrase is redundant.  All milestones are shared.  We have instinctively known and celebrated that fact since ancient times.  Rites of passage are for the individual.  Rites of passage are for the family.  Rites of passage are for the community.  With every major rite of passage, there are minor ones that are associated.  In this case, the graduate is entering a new phase of life; the parents are entering a new phase of life; the community is receiving its new members. It’s like tilling the soil between the dying of a crop and the next planting; and tilling is hard work.

One thing I have learned in my own experience is that if a rite of passage is not fully embraced and celebrated, if it is not done right, sputtering and stumbling follow.  The individual, the family and the community will embrace and celebrate the rite differently.  Somehow, I alternate between feeling prepared and feeling ambushed.  It isn’t like I didn’t know this was coming.  I am filled with the fear that I’m not doing this right. And there is the mother’s mantra.

As I type this post, Tracy Chapman sings in the background, “I’m ready. I’m ready/I’m ready to let the/ rivers wash over me.”  It’s from a playlist my daughter created.  Okay, then.  I’m ready too.  That doesn’t mean I can or will be “together” tomorrow (I am praying for at least a scintilla of dignity, however!).  It just means in the midst of our tears, there will be release and celebration. And indescribable joy.  It’s time to plant.  Or go with the flow.  Pick your analogy.  It’s time for all of us to move.  You too.

I can say I have done my best.  I can also say my best wasn’t very good all the time.  Where I have failed, she has shined.  Where I have failed, she will forgive.  Where I have failed, I have also loved.  Always. Continue reading “Ready or Not. Ready is Better.”

I Still Owe You …

I will get you your three poems that I owe you from April.  Not today, though.

I did want to take a moment and mention the reading in which I participated on Sunday at Flyleaf Books over in Chapel Hill.  What a great space and a friendly staff!  And what fun (and an honor) for me to be able to be a stand-in and read the part of The Reporter in the staging of Pat Riviere-Seel’s The Serial Killer’s Daughter.  This chapbook is the recipient of the Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry from the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

I was intrigued by this work since  I am currently working on an historical novel.  Pat’s chapbook could be described as historical poetry; it is a work of the imagination that has its roots in a true event.  I invite you to visit Pat’s website for more information.

Anyway, my fellow cast members consisted of Pat herself, who played the part of Velma Barfield (the serial killer), Terri Wolfe, who played The Daughter, and Richard Allen Taylor who played multiple male voice roles.

North Carolina residents:  If you have an opportunity to see this production (and there are more such readings planned), do go.  You won’t be sorry.

April 28, 2010

There is one entry under “Q” in Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary:  A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices, which makes the decision-making process easy.

Quatrain:  Any STANZA unit of four lines, whether rhymed or unrhymed (see RHYME).  The quatrain is the most common stanza form in English poetry, and when rhymed it tends to fall into one of the following four categories:
Shakespearean rhyme  a/b/a/b
Petrarchean rhyme a/b/b/a
Omar Khayyám stanza a/a/x/a
Monorhyme a/a/a/a

I revised this next poem, so that the first three stanzas are quatrains. I attempted the Petrarchean rhyme scheme. Regardless of whether the poem is successful, I enjoyed revisiting a years-old poem and working with it, applying a fresh set of expectations. Thanks for reading!
Continue reading “April 28, 2010”

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”