National Poetry Month Tour – Reach for the Horizon

I have been traveling a lot lately, the past four weekends to be exact and I’ll be traveling again this weekend. (Hence the lateness of this post! When I signed up, I was expecting to be home on Sunday night, but we decided to come home a day later.) I have seen thousands of miles of road and I’m craving a quiet weekend at home. Only one more weekend! Fortunately, there’s a poem for everything, so I thought I’d share this lovely one by Charles Tomlinson that expresses my feelings exactly. I wonder if there is some ambiguity at the end, about longing for travel while at the same time savoring in being home? I feel that, too. Against Travel by Charles Tomlinson

These days are best when one goes nowhere,
The house a reservoir of quiet change,
The creak of furniture, the window panes
Brushed by the half-rhymes of activities
That do not quite declare what thing it was
Gave rise to them outside. The colours, even,
Accord with the tenor of the day—yes, ‘grey’
You will hear reported of the weather,
But what a grey, in which the tinges hover,
About to catch, although they still hold back
The blaze that’s in them should the sun appear,
And yet it does not. Then the window pane
With a tremor of glass acknowledges
The distant boom of a departing plane.
Click here to read more of the posts in this month’s National Poetry Month blog tour hosted by the lovely Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit. 

Poetry Out Loud

When she contacted me about this month of poetry posts, Serena made the suggestion that we record a vlog of us reading our favorite poems, and I wish I had time (or the guts) to do that and share it with you. I’ve been thinking about that suggestion all week, though, and about how important it is for poetry to be spoken.

I love reading poetry out loud, though usually when I’m by myself. I’m a little bit self conscious of my voice when I’m recorded or when people are listening, but because of that, it feels like a very private thing. When the house is quiet and there is no one else around, you can often find me reading a poem to no one but myself.

Some days it’s a poem that is just dying to read, that I want to hear and feel in a way that I can’t when I’m reading silently. Sometimes it’s a poem that I’ve written myself, and I’m reading it out loud to make sure that it sounds the way it reads. Often, though, it’s a poem that I don’t really understand or one that I don’t particularly like. Sometimes, things that are hidden when you read a poem are uncovered when you speak it. A poem that gives me trouble will unfold and become clear when I say it out loud. A poem that I didn’t find particularly clever is suddenly genius when I can hear exactly what the poet wanted me to hear. It doesn’t always happen, but poetry is, often, meant to be spoken out loud and I can miss things when I read them.
When I’m proofreading, I often read out loud. I hear mistakes better than I see them. (I’m sure this is terribly annoying for anyone who asks me to edit something, especially at work.) In that same way, I hear the beauty of a poem before I might see it. When I review books of poetry or post poems on my blog, I often get comments about how difficult poetry is, but I’m a big believer that a lot of poetry is for the masses. Some of it is difficult for sure, but it’s just like any other medium. If anything has been my mantra since I started blogging about poetry it’s this: there is a poem out there for you. If reading poetry hasn’t done it for you so far, can I just suggest that you read it out loud? You never know what you might hear.

This post is part of Serena’s National Poetry Month Blog Tour. You can check out the rest of the participants here!

Poetry Project December – Mid-Year Reflection

Happy December, poetry readers!

We started this project, in its most recent incarnation, six months ago and it’s time to take a moment to look back at what we’ve done and think about how we’d like the rest of the year to go. For this month’s Poetry Project, if you’re so inclined, answer the questions below.

As always, you can link up to any post from the month of December, as long as it is about poetry. Post about your favorite holiday poem or share with us any poem that strikes your fancy, holiday related or no.

1) What has been the most rewarding aspect of The Poetry Project so far?
2) What is your favorite post from a fellow Poetry Project participant this year?
3) What is your favorite poem that you have read because of The Poetry Project?
4) What are some poetry-related goals you’d like to set for the coming year?
5) Do you have any suggestions for The Poetry Project in 2013? What would you like to see happen?
6) Share with us one line of poetry that you think we need to read.
7) Is there a new poet that you have discovered through The Poetry Project?
8) Anything else you would like to share?

As always, thank you all for participating! This time of year is all about remembering what we’re thankful for and so incredibly thankful for everyone who has taken time out of their day to post about poetry and then share it with us.

Please link up to your December poetry posts in the linky below.

Questions and answers

It’s never a good sign when you think to yourself – when was the last time I blogged? I was out of town last weekend and then caught a nasty cold this week, so I’ve been down for the count. I had a lot of plans (I always do!), but they were pretty much derailed by this cold. Fortunately, Claire was lovely enough to give me something to blog about on this fine Sunday.

1. What propelled your love affair with books—any particular title or a moment?

I have always been known as nose-stuck-in-a-book, book-worm. I think this is because, with separated parents living nearly 300 miles apart, I was always traveling, always in a car. This was before the days of laptops or portable DVD players or anything of the sort. My dad and I had music, the scenery, conversation, and books to keep us entertained. Well, I had books. He was driving. The scenery is not much on US-13 up and down the Eastern Shore of DelMarVa. The land is beautiful away from 13, but right on the road? It’s strip malls and swaths of coastal forests and fields upon fields of farmland. So I read, and I read to my dad, and, later, we listened to audiobooks. My grandmother was an avid reader too, and she would take me to the library whenever I visited.

But my modern incarnation as an all-out obsessive reader? I can pinpoint three reading experiences and I’ve talked about them all to some degree here. They are Ella EnchantedA Wrinkle in Time, and, of course, Harry Potter. There were other books, of course, but these are the ones that I read and reread and continue to reread to this day. Before those books, I remember a book about a cat with two different colored eyes. And children’s horror novels illustrated by Edward Gorey. I remember visiting the school library and being relegated to the “2nd grade and under” section with just the picture books. I would try to explain to the librarians that I was already reading chapter books, but they never listened. I had to wait until 3rd grade just like everyone else. It was the great tragedy of my young life.

2. Which fictional character would you like to be friends with and why?

I was going through my most recently read books, trying to find a character, and there’s barely a redeemable friend-quality character in there. I think I just like to read books about bad people.

I’d love to be friends with anyone from The Night Circus, because that would mean that the circus is real, but especially Bailey. I love that he was just an ordinary boy who loved the circus and eventually he became the glue that would hold it all together again.

3. Do you write your name on your books or use bookplates?

No, because my library isn’t properly established yet. I give away most of the books that I read without expecting them to return to me. Some, of course, I buy for keeps. Perhaps, eventually, I will put bookplates in those, but right now, my library is spread out and divided in boxes.

4. What was your favourite book read this year?

I think it’s going to have to be The Night Circus, so far. The book I look back on most fondly, that’s for sure. The most technically amazing book? Probably not. But the book I enjoyed reading the most? Absolutely.

5. If you could read in another language, which language would you choose?

I can, or I could, read in Spanish, but never very well. It was always a struggle for me in a way that speaking or understanding Spanish was not. I am not sure why. If I could read another language, though, I think I would choose Japanese. Whenever I read a book originally written in Japanese I just want to know what it would be like to read it in its original language.

6. Name a book that made you both laugh and cry.

Any of the later Harry Potter books. JK Rowling can be so funny. Looking for Alaska and  The Fault in Our Stars, of course. Oh, and Looking for Bapu by Anajali Banerjee, which is absolutely heartbreaking, but made me giggle on occasion. Most of the books I could think of that fell under this category were Young Adult or Middle Grade. How very interesting.

7. Share with us your favourite poem?

However could I pick a favorite poem, Claire? How? There are so many that mean something to me. How about the last poem that made me stop and read it all over again: “Big Game” by Brenda Shaughnessy:

—after Richard Brautigan’s “A Candlelion Poem”

What began as wildfire ends up

on a candle wick. In reverse,
it is contained,

a lion head in a hunter’s den.
Big Game.

Bigger than one I played
with matches and twigs and glass
in the shade.

When I was young, there was no sun
and I was afraid.

Now, in grownhood, I call the ghost
to my fragile table, my fleshy supper,
my tiny flame.

To read the rest of “Big Game” by Brenda Shaughnessy, please go here.

These questions came with an award, The Liebster Award. Perhaps I’m not the only one who will wake up one morning with nothing lingering in my draft folder and you could use seven questions to get the post going? Chris, Debi, Clare, Cass, Heather, and O? Anyone else who is reading this afternoon? These are your questions:

1. Is there anyone in your life who made you a reader? Who influenced your reading?
2. Name one experience you had reading that changed your perspective on something.
3. What was the most beautiful reading experience you had?
4. If you could have any all-consuming hobby other than reading and blogging, what would it be?
5. Tell me your favorite song right now. (Totally selfish – I would like new music to listen to.)
6. Which character have you most identified with? The one character who, when you read about them, seemed eerily similar to you?
7. Because I want everyone to answer Claire’s final question: What is your favorite poem right now?

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!

Surprise snow storm!

Though some forecasts were predicting snow for the Northeastern US, no one was predicting quite this much snow. I left the office around 5:15 and there was a light slush on the ground. I got out of the subway around 6:30 to about 2 inches. It’s still snowing now a few hours later and it’s still accumulating. So much snow! Anyway, it’s late in the day, but I thought I’d throw up a quick Poetry Wednesday to celebrate (?)  this early snow storm. (I’m trying to channel my inner Lorelei Gilmore here, but I really dislike the snow.)

This is an excerpt from the poem “Falling Leaves and Early Snow” by Kenneth Rexroth. You can read the full poem at the Poetry Foundation.

In the afternoon thin blades of cloud
Move over the mountains;
The storm clouds follow them;
Fine rain falls without wind.
The forest is filled with wet resonant silence.
When the rain pauses the clouds
Cling to the cliffs and the waterfalls.
In the evening the wind changes;
Snow falls in the sunset.
We stand in the snowy twilight
And watch the moon rise in a breach of cloud.
Between the black pines lie narrow bands of moonlight,
Glimmering with floating snow.
An owl cries in the sifting darkness.
The moon has a sheen like a glacier.

Poetry Project October Roundup

I apologize for a month of slacking off and being a few days late to the party on this one. October is one of the more stressful months we have at work and most of the days this month I just came home and read silly YA. I posted a few poems, but not a lot.

I also am trying to ignore the fact that October is over. It moved so fast! Here is the round up of all the amazing Poetry Project participants for the month of October! I hope you had a spooktacular poetry reading month. (Everyone’s allowed to say spooktacular seriously once during the whole month of October.)

Amy @ New Century Reading posted a fabulous Ted Hughes poem called “Wind.” You know that Ted Hughes is one of my favorite poets, so get over to Amy’s blog and read read read!

Kristin @ Matched posted the Christina Rosetti poem “Goblin Market,” which works for this month’s theme and our Christina Rosetti month in January!

Nancy @ Simple Clockwork posted about a collection of Cebuano poems, specifically the poem “Images (of Life) by E. Gadiana Cabras. Cebuano, Nancy’s native language, is spoken in the Phillipines. Her post includes the poem in its original Cebuano and the English translation. She also posted another Cebuano poem called “The Monster of Old” by Canuto C. Lim. Finally, for All Souls’ and All Saints’ days she posted the poem “Cemetery by Marra PL. Lanot.

Madeleine @ Scribble and Edit wrote about the poem “The Hag” by Robert Herrick and Tim Burton’s “Nightmare before Halloween.” She also shared two original Halloween haikus!

Mona @ Infinity Books posted about an Edna St. Vincent Millay (one of my favorites!) poem called “Journey.”

Snowball @ Come Sit By the Hearth posted about how she believes that we’re all, in some way, “haunted.” It’s a lovely musing! She also posted the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem “Haunted Houses.”

Kaye @ the road goes ever on posted samples of the Edgar Allen Poe poems “The Sleeper,” “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven” and a list of her favorite Poe poems. She also posted an excerpt of the Poe story “The Pit and the Pendulum.”

Gavin @ Page 247 posted the poem “All Souls’ Night” by Hortense King Flexner.

This month’s theme is “War Remembrance” and Kelly is hosting the Mr. Linky. Remember, you don’t have to follow along with our monthly themes to participate. All you need to do is post about poetry during the month of November! If you posted during October and you don’t see your post here, please add it to the November Linky and we’ll include it in November’s round up!

God’s World by Edna St. Vincent Millay

God’s World

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart. Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year.
My soul is all but out of me, let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.