Tag: Poetry

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Puppy Love

 

I didn’t get this posted for Valentine’s Day because I was out of town, but it’s too fun not to share. Every year I send out Valentine’s postcards to friends and family with an illustration done by one of my children. This year, my new daughter-in-law did the honors. I was hesitant to ask at first, but she seemed excited to be included in this family tradition. After years of asking my sons to remember to marry someone who would like me, I feel very blessed that (so far) they have listened! The dog in the illustration is my six-year-old puppy Inigo.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Flyting: More than 1,500 Years of Rap Battles

 

Battle Rap. Have you heard of it? It’s a fairly new thing that started in the 1980s, I am told. In fact, Wikipedia says:

Rap battle is generally believed to have started in the East Coast hip hop scene in the late 1980s. One of the earliest and most infamous battles occurred in December 1982 when Kool Moe Dee challenged Busy Bee Starski – Busy Bee Starski’s defeat by the more complex raps of Kool Moe Dee meant that “no longer was an MC just a crowd-pleasing comedian with a slick tongue; he was a commentator and a storyteller” thus, rendering Busy’s archaic format of rap obsolete, in favor of a newer style which KRS-One also credits as creating a shift in rapping in the documentary Beef.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Let America Be America Again

 

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

— Langston Hughes, excerpt from “Let America Be America Again,” written in 1925

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?

 

“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Cursing, Swearing, Blaspheming, and Obscenity

 

Not just a matter of knowing the words,
Nor stringing together in ways unheard
That makes a blast of vitriol seem new.

Any man can make fires rhyme and smell
Of brimstone, sulfur, and lye, all quite well,
But is it art? Is it glory they spew?

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: 19th-Century Discontent

 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning.jpgDISCONTENT
Light human nature is too lightly tost
And ruffled without cause, complaining on–
Restless with rest, until, being overthrown,
It learneth to lie quiet. Let a frost
Or a small wasp have crept to the inner-most
Of our ripe peach, or let the wilful sun
Shine westward of our window,–straight we run
A furlong’s sigh as if the world were lost.
But what time through the heart and through the brain
God hath transfixed us,–we, so moved before,
Attain to a calm. Ay, shouldering weights of pain,
We anchor in deep waters, safe from shore,
And hear submissive o’er the stormy main
God’s chartered judgments walk for evermore.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

On first glance, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1805-1855) would seem to have lived a life of privilege and fortune, with little room for discontent or unhappiness anywhere. Her family, which resided in the north of England, was extremely wealthy on both sides, the result of both inheritances and ownership of Jamaican sugar plantations. As the oldest of twelve children, she had a very comfortable upbringing, well-educated, and encouraged in her love of poetry-writing by her mother, who kept every one of her daughter’s notebooks, giving us a fascinating glimpse into Elizabeth’s stylistic and philosophical development as she aged.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Focusing on the Personal

 

Last year, my church introduced a new at-home study program called “Come, Follow Me.” It included weekly reading assignments for studying the New Testament, including suggestions for how to adapt those assignments for different family situations. Probably a lot of you have followed similar programs on your own or with your families.

When I started the program, I decided to do something a little different. I made a goal to write at least one poem inspired by the reading assignment each week. The goal wasn’t necessarily to try to interpret the scriptures, but to deepen the spiritual and emotional experience I had during my study.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Ave Atque Vale, Thou Bleak Midwinter of My Discontent!

 

As most of you know, I’m British. And as such, I generally try to keep a pretty stiff upper lip about things. Not to whine unduly. And when I do whine, I try to whine at the person or people who are at the root of my dissatisfaction or unhappiness, or in the case of “things” that unsettle me, at the person or people who can actually do something about them. Thus my recent encounter with Highmark Insurance, who abruptly cancelled Mr. She’s Medicare Advantage plan because of “your failure to pay your bill for several months.” Big mistake. By the time I’d finished “whining” at them, I’d gotten matters corrected, his coverage reinstated and backdated, and an abject and fulsome apology from the Assistant to the CEO. The next day, I cancelled Mr. She’s Highmark Insurance, and signed him up with UPMC. A petty revenge, perhaps, but sweet nonetheless.

Which is all a roundabout way of saying that I’m not very good at passive-aggression, as (for better or worse) my behavior generally tends towards the denominator, rather than the numerator, of the fractional representation of the whole number that is my life. Passive-aggression, has just never been my style. Usually, if you’ve ticked me off, or (in my estimation) treated me poorly, you’ll hear about it from me directly. Doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to, though. If there’s a real point of contention at the center of our disagreement, hopefully we can sort it out between ourselves, without outside meddling. Hopefully. Because I was brought up to believe that’s how it’s done.

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Member Post

 

 We ventured out between monsoons to pick up last minute holiday gifts and necessities, which included Barnes & Noble, a book store with a coffee shop, delicious cookies, a toy section and my yearly cat calendar by artist B. Kliban. There are only three bookstores left in our area. I picked up a discount book […]

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Member Post

 

Noel Christmas is lonelylike the rustle of a nestthat keeps out cold one night longer. More

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Three Melancholy Poems

 

I haven’t been around here for quite awhile while I dealt with some things. Mostly, politics was driving me crazy so I stepped out for a bit. I didn’t want to make a big explanatory exit, so I just left … and now I’m back.

It’s been quite a year. While there have been many happy occasions—one son married, another son returned home after two years in Tijuana—I’ve also faced plenty of personal dissappointment and the feeling that little bits of my heart were gradually being stripped away. On the plus side, I’ve done a lot of writing and it looks like I’ll probably publish another volume of poetry by the end of next year. Today I’m sharing three more personal poems that won’t be included in that volume. They kind of ecompass the tectonic shifts in my world this year.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: The Bard of the Yukon

 

Klondikers on Lake LeBarge 1897There are some things that, when they erupt in my life, catapult me instantly back in time, or elsewhere in place or company. Certain smells, and I’m in Granny’s kitchen five or six decades ago. Or, it’s the early 1970s, and I’m cleaning fish on Court Brothers’ wharf in Rustico Harbour, PEI. Or perhaps I’m wandering around Kano Market in 1960, eyes and nose running at the variety of pungent spices and out-of-this-world hot peppers for sale, or just for breathing-in. (I’m thankful it’s only on rare occasions these days, that a redolent something wafts by and reminds me of the camels.) Particular colors, and my sister appears before me, as I think about how well a pair of earrings would suit her, or what use she could make of a gorgeous skein of yarn.

Flowers and landscapes–reminders of childhood, of places I’ve visited, of places I love–reminders of beloved friends, some still here, some, seemingly lost to me forever. All, at one time or another, a part of my life. All, when they happen now, becoming themselves a part of my life today.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: Autumn’s Rainbow

 

There was no rain. There was no wind.
A sunny day’s bright, piercing sky,
And colors that refuse to blend
In trees that wear each hue and dye.

The sky scalded with skeins of crimson:
Sweet sugar maples sing of red,
The green of leaves long left behind.
And excreted over all: the oil of blood.

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Member Post

 

– From a middle school teacher   More

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Ten Favorite Poems

 

I’m surprised you made it this far. Let’s face it: It would be difficult to come up with a title any less inviting than My Ten Favorite Poems. I suppose I could have called it My Ten Favorite Poems! Number Seven Will Blow Your Mind! But I have too much integrity to use that sort of clickbaitery just to attract the gentle readers of Ricochet. (Photos of cute kittens and Bob the dog to follow.)

First some historical background: Poetry has fallen on hard times, a beggar on the streets of culture. The New Yorker still publishes a poem or two, more out of tradition than anything else. They pay 40 bucks for a poem. They pay 675 bucks for one of their unfunny cartoons. That tells us something about the state of poetry, doesn’t it?

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: By a Gentlewoman of Those Parts

 

 “If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” — Anne Bradstreet, Meditations Divine and Moral

So, there I was, looking for a quote about Spring, about how glad I am that the cycles go on, and that this fact has finally been borne out for this year, that the crocuses have finally emerged from their chilly beds, and that the hyacinths, daffodils and tulips are on their way, and I fell over this little treasure from Anne Bradstreet. The name was vaguely familiar, so I looked her up, and found that my recollection was correct: She’s an early American poet (born 1612, died 1672), and her claim to fame is that she’s the first published Puritan author of any substance. And, hey, she’s a woman! (That wasn’t such a big deal, the last time I ran across her, which I think was in a 1973 Survey of American Literature class, but I bet that makes her the bee’s knees now.)

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. World Poetry Day: Rhyming and Chiming and the Khmer Metres

 

Today is World Poetry Day and to celebrate the occasion, I am introducing you to Khmer versification. But first, a brief lesson on the Khmer language. The language is part of the Mon-Khmer family. Khmer is a non-tonal and analytic language. Since the language has no inflections, conjunctions or case endings, it is rich in particles and auxiliary words. It is a language that does not need to repeat the subject, object or indication of time, once they have been established. Though in most cases, especially in songs and lyrics, subjects are dropped altogether. Khmer is heavily influenced by Sanskrit, which reached Cambodia along with Hinduism via Indian traders around 5th century BC. The Sanskrit influence is found primarily in the religious, law, science, literature and royal registers. Having said that, the majority of Sanskrit borrowings are more of a style rather than a necessity. This also applies to Pali, the language of Theravada Buddhism, which came into contact with the Khmer language in the late 14th century. After the mid-19th century, the French influence on the language emerged as well.

Khmers have always liked verse and there is a lot to like, at least to the Khmer ear. Native Khmer is very ornate and orotund. Its lexicon offers an abundant wealth of rhyming, chiming and alliterative words. The alliteration sometimes involves more than one syllable and in poetry, they are used to the full. For examples: can cap (capture), srapan srapon (wilted). Sometimes more than four alliterative syllables occur in succession.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

It is a lovely, cool, rainy day in the Valley of the Sun. We very much need the rains, and a snow pack on the mountains to the north, to replenish the reservoirs from the dry decade in the drought cycle. Arizona has been in drought since August 2009. The more water falls in Arizona, […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Things We Love

 

I’ve mentioned once or twice that I’m an avid fan of the novels of mystery writer Louise Penny. A friend of mine introduced me to them several years ago, and at first I was hesitant, wondering how I’d get along with a Francophone Chief Inspector of the Sûreté du Québec, and his adventures in and around the little lost hamlet of Three Pines, somewhere in Québec’s Eastern Townships. It all sounded a bit “foreign” to me, given my almost exclusive devotion, whodunit-wise, to the British variety of same.

Then I read the first couple of books, and I fell in love. With Penny, who’s an extraordinarily good, and very insightful, writer. With Three Pines. And with the eccentric and recurring cast of characters who populate it and the books, who’ve invaded my heart, and who sometimes simultaneously (and at the same time), have me weeping with sorrow, laughing with joy, and crowing with delight. The plots aren’t so bad either. (If you’re interested, I’d strongly suggest reading the books in order, just because of the recurring characters, and the development of each of them throughout the series.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Modern Poetry Podcast #6: Wallace Stevens, Of Mere Being

 

Friends, our own @langevine joins me for our third Wallace Stevens conversation, this time a very late poem dealing with the distinction between the beautiful and happiness. Listen, share, and join us in the comments–and we’ve got another one for next week.

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