Monday Earworm: Marcin (Yes, Again, Don’t @ Me)

Look, I have about eleventy kajillion papers to grade this week, a slush pile to finish scoring before the end of the month, and no small amount of angst over my fourth-circle-of-hell state (the geographical kind) right now. Plus, a bunch of my students are about to graduate, and I’m feeling both ecstatic for them and melancholy for myself over it. They are young people who have the capacity and preparation to do great things. So in their honor, here is a young person doing great things with a melancholy mood that makes me feel slightly ecstatic. Enjoy.

Come Write Poetry With Me For An Hour

The title of this post is not an exaggeration.

I’m going to be leading a workshop called “Daily Dose of Poetry” on Monday June 13th through WAN (Write About Now) as part of their weekly virtual workshop series, and I’d love for you to join me!

The workshop will be synchronous, live, and interactive on Zoom. It starts at 6:00 p.m. central time and actually lasts until 7:30 p.m. The workshop will be generative and also give you a chance to share the poetry you write in the workshop for feedback or just accolades.

This class is appropriate for all levels: if you are a seasoned writer and want to revive or enhance your practice; if you are newer writer and want more prompts to help you generate ideas; if you just have a lot of thoughts swirling around in your head and aren’t sure how to rein them in so you can get some sleep. There’s something for everyone in Daily Dose of Poetry.

If you want the official course description, here it is:

“In this class participants will use short poems and exercises as models for writing poetry and poetic fragments, and will practice techniques to increase observation and lyrical thinking. We’ll look at mentor texts and have a discussion on language and form. We’ll also have exercises in metaphor and imagery. Attendees will get a chance to write short form poems and use the techniques covered in class to enhance their daily writing practice.”

And if you subscribe to WAN, I think there’s even a discount on the already quite low registration fee. Here are the other workshops being offered in June:

So come join me on June 13th! Register here for the event on Eventbrite. I look forward to this relaxed and low-stress poetry party with you!

Charlie’s Angels Raffle and Livestream

Hey there! I want to show you something excellent:

These are the tickets so far for the raffle I’m doing this week in support of Charlie’s Angels, my family’s campaign to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Get your donations in before tomorrow (Wednesday) night so be included in the raffle. Each $25 donated gets a ticket — which means if you donate $100 you get four tickets, and if you donate $250 you get ten, and so on. I’ll be doing a livestream Thursday evening to pick the winner of this raffle, who will receive a signed and personalized copy of Jayne Pillemer’s gorgeous children’s book Still Mine.

Click here to read more about the giveaway and to read more about this incredible book, including photos of the cover and interior.

And click here to be taken to my LLS campaign page where you can donate directly.

And thank you so much to everyone who has already donated — and to everyone who will! So much love.

Monday Earworm: U2

Aaaaaaaand we’re back to Monday Earworms.

Here’s one of my favorite U2 songs. I think it was one of the last songs I wrote a choreography to, a double veil for what used to be Eclectic Bellydance, but I never did have the chance to perform it. Ah well. Maybe if I ever come out of dancing retirement, I’ll relearn it. 

In the meantime, enjoy!

National Poetry Month: One Last Post For This Year

Hey there! Earlier this month I posted an invitation for people to send me Book Spine Poems (a type of found poem) that they’d constructed, and I want to share this one by Chuck Wemple.

Speedboat

My Uncle Napoleon
The wave in the mind
The traveling circus

Bad girls of the Arab world
The face of war
Last night at hot slit
Our women on the ground

Against interpretation

***

Thank you to Chuck, and to everyone who participated in this year’s National Poetry Month celebration here at Sappho’s Torque! It was a real pleasure to feature so many excellent poems. 

Also, I’m already curating next year’s Poem-A-Day series (!!!) so if you have a poem you’d like me to consider for it, drop me a line in the comments or via email: forest [dot] of [dot] diamonds [at] gmail [dot] com.

And now I’m going to go rest a little bit and try to get caught up with my semester, which is rapidly drawing to a frenetic close. Monday Earworms will resume tomorrow, and I’ll be sure to update you on how things are going with my family’s LLS campaign and my efforts to excavate myself from the stack of grading that appears to have buried me.

Cheers, y’all.

National Poetry Month: Saba Husain

Dear reader, it has been such a joy to share so many poems with you this year for National Poetry Month. I’d intended to include more different types of posts this year — prompts and poetry-adjacent things and such — but ultimately I just had such a wealth of people’s poems to share that I bent to that impulse as the month wore on.

Today I’m pleased to feature a poem by Saba Husain to round out our poetry celebration. I hope you’ll enjoy it, as I hope you’ve enjoyed this whole month’s series.

The Missing Planet

Oblivious to the red blood moon
we strung the universe on a wire hanger
in order of distance from the sun:

Neptune’s swing entangled
Saturn’s rings, and sent Jupiter
spinning towards Mars.

While the lunar jaw dropper was witnessed
from Sri Lanka to California,
I counted generations on my fingertips,
and imagined faces I’d never met
turned towards the sky.

In another time and age I’d be
on my knees at the spectacle,
having dallied enough nights on my driveway
to know a Texas sky.

Grandson, hold on to the blue green
sphere you plucked from your mobile,
tuck the Earth under your pillow,
let the moon orbit your eyes.

***

Saba Z Husain’s work has appeared in Sequestrum, Bangalore Review, Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Texas Review, Bellevue Review, Houston Chronicle, Aleph Review, Synkroniciti, Equinox, and the anthologies of Mutabilis Press, Ankelbiters Press, Lamar University Press, Southern Poetry Vol. VIII: Texas, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2021 and 2020 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, and semifinalist for the 2020 Philip Levine Poetry Prize. Saba serves on the board of Mutabilis Press.

National Poetry Month: Autumn Hayes

I only recently first encountered Autumn Hayes’ poetry at this month’s Mutable Hour reading, and wow! Powerhouse.

Sonnet #1

What’s that thorny thing you clutch so close
Pricking the blood to your palm’s numb palm? A rose
Wild-born, lightning-crooked bush? A ball
Of pig iron painted black? A dying sun with spiked rays?

What tether have you fashioned to control
Its swing and land? A synthetic cord? A bow
Of metal marrying metal? How heavy does it hang
Welded to the weight of the wait? Does it ripple your gut

To hear it hum through the anxious air? Where
Does it cling to your body? At elbow? At knee? For me
It’s my right. Elbow, that is. Swift shrug, shoulder flick
And the air at least has been stabbed. A fuzzy brown cuff

Holds it in place. Where do you keep the tool that can sever
The tether? Behind your back? Like it’s the weapon?

***

Autumn Hayes is a freelance writer and poet; her work has appeared in Xavier Review, Storm Cellar, The Washington Spectator, 3:AM, Teachers & Writers Magazine, and the micro-fiction anthology 140 and Counting¸among other places. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she has taught reading, writing, public speaking, math, drama, and vocational welding in Los Angeles, Houston, and the Mississippi Delta. She holds an MFA in poetry and teaches English in her hometown. Find out more at autumnhayes.com.

National Poetry Month: BJ Buckley

I first encountered B.J. Buckley’s work one of the times when I was a judge for the Poetry Super Highway annual contest. I love this poem “Butter” and am pleased to feature it this year on my blog. 

Do you have any childhood memories connected to food? Does anyone not? Bread and butter are intimately linked to my memories of childhood happiness, specifically watching the homemade pita loaves puff up in the oven as they finished baking, and then spreading butter on them so soon it melted while the knife was still spreading it. That smell is still, to me, the scent of joy.

Butter

The cats are on the table licking butter
from my supper of stale discount bread,
whole grain loaf passed over in this whitebread
town. It’s nearly Christmas, and this memory
from childhood – December and real butter
in defiance of the lack of cheese or meat.
My father never shook the dust of Ellis Island
from his shoes. Year’s end he pinched
so on the Holy Morning we’d have oranges
in the toes of our stockings and nuts in their shells,
almonds and walnuts and filberts, Brazil nuts
and pecans, and ribbon candy made by the Cockney
man who had a tiny grocery, Greek cookies from
Mrs. Panopoulous whose first son had ended his own
life years before my sister and I were ever born.

My father drank his coffee half milk and so much
sugar that even we with our Irish sweet tooths
could barely get it down. I know from letters he wrote
to Bridie, sister left behind and never married,
that he longed for fish from the Shannon where it met
the sea, for Kerry butter, which you find now
in every market as if it were nothing special.
Those December dinners of whole wheat
thick spread with yellow are what I most remember,
more than the scrimped-for ham and sweet potatoes,
black olives and cranberry sauce in cut glass dishes,
the good silver hidden all year under my parents’ bed,
next to the string-tied shoebox with the captured
leprechaun from the Old Country and the suitcase
of graying photographs, the loved and lost
whose names were faded as their faces.

The cats are licking delicately their soft paws,
their pretty whiskers, cleaning their foreheads
and their ears. They smell of kibble-fish
and Kerry butter, of milk and wheat, a scent like
the hands of my father, making us our suppers
in the solstice dark, and then his thin clear tenor
that sang us off to sleep.

                                          at Yuletide, 2019

***

B.J. Buckley is a Montana poet and writer who has worked in Arts-in-Schools/Communities programs throughout the West and Midwest for over 45 years in schools, libraries, hospitals, senior centers and homeless shelters. Her work has appeared in Whitefish Review, ellipsis, Sugar House Review, December, Sequestrum, About Place Journal, The Comstock Poetry Review, and many others. Her book Corvidae, Poems of Ravens, Crows, and Magpies, with woodcut illustrations by Dawn Senior-Trask, came out from Lummox Press 2014. Her most recent work, the chapbook In January, the Geese, won the 35th Anniversary Comstock Review Chapbook Prize. Visit her website here.