June 24, 2014

June 19, 2014

A Poet's Glossary

Looking through A Poet's Glossary, by poet Edward Hirsch, certainly offers many possibilities for writing prompts. Hirsch has put together a very international collection of terms from A (as in abededarian) to Z (zeugma).

You might try writing a Bedouin women’s ghinnawa (highly stylized verses) or a style of gentle banter that originated as a sung verbal duel in the West Indies called picong.

There are also the more familiar terms that we were introduced to in school.

The book has been called a followup to Edward Hirsch’s best-selling book How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry from 1999 which contained a useful but limited  glossary.

For example, Hirsch defines "couplet" as two successive lines of poetry, usually rhymed (aa), which has been an elemental stanzaic unit—a couple, a pairing—as long as there has been written rhyming poetry in English. 

We call a couplet closed when the sense and syntax come to a conclusion or strong pause at the end of the second line, thus giving a feeling of self-containment and enclosure, as in the first lines of “To His Coy Mistress”:

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.

We call a couplet open when the sense carries forward past the second line into the next line or lines, as in the beginning of Keats’s Endymion (1818):

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness, but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

     Full of sweet dreams . . .

Ben Jonson told William Drummond that he deemed couplets “the brav­est Sort of Verses, especially when they are broken.” All two-line stanzas in English carry the vestigial memory of closed or open couplets.
In an interview, Hirsch explained his intent for the glossary:

I see this as a book for the initiated as well as for the uninitiated reader. People who don’t know much about poetry can find what they need to know about certain basics, like the nature of the line or the stanza, or the characteristics of a form, like the ghazal or the sestina. But there are also a lot of things in this book that even widely read readers of poetry may not know much about because they are outside our tradition. So, for example, you might not know to look up a form of African praise poem called the oríkì. If you care to think about praise poetry—what it is, how it functions—then the oríkì has a lot to tell you. To help the reader along different pathways, I’ve added “See also” at the bottom of every entry.

Curious about the abecedarian and zeugma?

June 15, 2014

Charles Wright To Be New Poet Laureate

The Library of Congress will announce this week that the next poet laureate will be Charles Wright.

He is the author of nearly two dozen collections of verse and known for blending modernism and the landscape of the American South.

At 78, Wright is retired from teaching at the University of Virginia. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Bollingen Prize and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard

East of me, west of me, full summer.
How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard.
Birds fly back and forth across the lawn
looking for home
As night drifts up like a little boat.

Day after day, I become of less use to myself.
Like this mockingbird,
I flit from one thing to the next.
What do I have to look forward to at fifty-four?
Tomorrow is dark.
Day-after-tomorrow is darker still.

The sky dogs are whimpering.
Fireflies are dragging the hush of evening
up from the damp grass.
Into the world's tumult, into the chaos of every day,
Go quietly, quietly.

Wright's latest collection of poems is Caribou (2014)

Read more about the new Poet Laureate - http://www.npr.org/2014/06/13/321586882/charles-wright-the-contemplative-poet-laureate

June 8, 2014

Prompt: All About June

What does the month of June suggest to you? Summer? Weddings?

In Richard Wilbur's poem, "June Light," the month is present in someone "with clear location" and "the just soft stare of uncontested summer."

The Latin name for June is Junius. Ovid offered multiple etymologies for the month's name: from the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of the supreme deity Jupiter; the second is that the name comes from the Latin word iuniores, meaning "younger ones", as opposed to maiores ("elders") for which the preceding month May (Maius) may be named. Though we might associate JUne with weddings, in ancient Rome, the period from mid-May through mid-June was considered a bad time to marry. Ovid says that he consulted the Flaminica Dialis, the high priestess of Jupiter, about setting a date for his daughter's wedding, and was advised to wait till after June 15. Then again, Plutarch said that the entire month of June was more favorable for weddings than May.

I like the Icelandic folk story that says that if you bathe naked in the morning dew on the morning of June 24, you are supposed to keep aging at bay for a longer period.

If you believe in the power of the heavenly bodies, the start of June finds the sun rising in the constellation of Taurus, and at the end of the month it rises in the constellation of Gemini.

Does the month mean to you, as in this month's full moon, strawberries and roses?

This month we ask you to consider June as the theme for your poem. Perhaps, you can teach us something new about the month.

Submission deadline: June 30, 2014