poetry friday roundup is here!

“When our trust in politics has run out, when our faith in humanity has run out, art is there to make sense out of chaos.” ~ Janis Ian

“It is always better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

I actually had an entirely different post planned for today that I’d written two weeks ago, celebrating the first female President of the United States. But it was not to be, and the world as I thought I knew it changed on a dime. I’m trying hard to understand and accept, but it is very difficult. I know many of you share my pain, sadness, and disbelief.

So instead, I thought I’d share a poem I stumbled upon last year. Joe Salerno was new to me, and I think you’ll appreciate what he has to say about the nature and power of poetry. When we seek expression of the ineffable, it’s poetry that steps in with words bred of emotion, infused with truth. Poetry sometimes unearths the profound with far reaching consequences.

Spanish writer José Bergamín once said, “The novel is born of disillusionment; the poem, of despair.”

“Woman at Writing Desk” by Lesser Ury (1898)

POETRY IS THE ART OF NOT SUCCEEDING

Poetry is the art of not succeeding;
the art of making a little ritual
out of your own bad luck, lighting a little fire
made of leaves, reciting a prayer
in the ordinary dark.

It’s the art of those who didn’t make it
after all; who were lucky enough to be
left behind, while the winners ran on ahead
to wherever it is winners
go running to.

O blessed rainy day, glorious
as a paper bag. The kingdom of poetry
is like this — quiet, anonymous,
a dab of sunlight on the back of your hand,
a view out the window just before dusk.

It’s an art more shadow than statue,
and has something to do with your dreams
running out — a bare branch darkening
on a winter sky, the week-old snow
frozen into something hard.

It’s an art as simple as drinking water
from a tin cup; of loving that moment
at the end of autumn, say, when the air
holds no more promises, and the days are short
and likely to be gray.

A bland light is best to see it in.
Middle age brings it to flower.
And there, just when you’re feeling your
weakest,
it floods you completely,
leaving you weeping as you drive your car.

~ Posted by permission. Copyright © 1998 Joe Salerno.

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Nothing to do now but roll up our sleeves and get to work. No time for despair, self-pity, or blame. Creatives create. Making is the best healing. Make stories, songs, pictures, soup, cookies, poems. Model a world of diversity, inclusion, love, decency, and tolerance for all the children out there. In our own spheres, what we do with purposeful intent can make a difference. Let’s remember to support each other, be generous with our time and advice, always be kind, and “never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

Now, please leave your links with the always hungry Mr. Linky. Don’t forget to put the name of the poem or book review you’re sharing in parentheses after your name. Thanks for joining us today!

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“When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” ~ John F. Kennedy

 


Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

[review] Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, Michiko Tsuboi, and Toshikado Hajiri

Though every elementary school student in Japan is familiar with Misuzu Kaneko’s poetry, relatively few in the English-speaking world are familiar with her work.

Marked by a refreshing ingenuousness, curiosity, and extraordinary empathy for the world around her, Misuzu’s poems resonate with people of all ages, demonstrating that quiet, gentle words have their own special power.

DEWDROP

Let’s not tell anyone.

In the corner of the garden this morning,
a flower shed a tear.

If word of this spreads
to the ears of the bee,

it’ll feel it’s done wrong
and go back to return the nectar.

Thanks to this breathtakingly beautiful picture book, a new audience of North American children can now read a selection of Misuzu’s poetry in English, learn about her short tragic life and the fascinating backstory of how her work was lost for half a century before being rediscovered in 1982.

 In Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko (Chin Music Press, 2016), author David Jacobson frames the story of Misuzu’s life with an account of how young student poet Setsuo Yazaki read one of her poems and was so impressed by it that he spent the next 16 years searching for more.

art copyright 2016 Toshikado Hajiri

BIG CATCH

At sunrise, glorious sunrise
it’s a big catch!
A big catch of sardines!

On the beach, it’s like a festival
but in the sea, they will hold funerals
for the tens of thousands dead.

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autumn pleasures: three poems, butternut bisque, and gingerbread applesauce cake

Hello Friends. Can’t believe it’s already the end of October!

Fall is going much too fast for me. I wish there was a way to make it last longer — trees aflame with color, deep blue skies, crisp mornings, apple everything and friendly pumpkins! If I had my way, I would skip summer entirely and have two autumns in a row.

More than any other season, Fall reminds me to make the most of each moment. Lovely though it may be, there’s always this sense of reckoning, the gathering in and taking stock, and with that an acute awareness of life’s evanescence.

“Pumpkin Patch” by Paul Peel

AUTUMN
by Linda Pastan

I want to mention
summer ending
without meaning the death
of somebody loved

or even the death
of the trees.
Today in the market
I heard a mother say

Look at the pumpkins,
it’s finally autumn!
And the child didn’t think
of the death of her mother

which is due before her own
but tasted the sound
of the words on her clumsy tongue:
pumpkin; autumn.

Let the eye enlarge
with all it beholds.
I want to celebrate
color, how one red leaf

flickers like a match
held to a dry branch,
and the whole world goes up
in orange and gold.

~ from Heroes in Disguise (W.W. Norton, 1992)

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[book review] No Fair! No Fair! And Other Jolly Poems of Childhood by Calvin Trillin and Roz Chast

Do you have a bossy older sibling? Wish you could eat ice cream for breakfast instead of oatmeal? Why ride the bus to school when a helicopter would be so much better?

Ah yes, life’s little injustices! If you can’t change them, may as well laugh about them.

In No Fair! No Fair! And Other Jolly Poems of Childhood (Orchard Books, 2016), eminent New Yorker contributors Calvin Trillin and Roz Chast serve up big helpings of funny with their poems and pictures about various and sundry everyday things that can drive kids nuts. No matter our age, we’ve all been there. Ever have a wardrobe crisis in the morning?

GETTING DRESSED

Oh, this is such a silly rule —
That people must wear pants to school.
A better rule, a wise man said,
is wear your underpants instead.

This little morning complaint is just the beginning. There are complaints about school and for the evening, too. As the title states, no fair! no fair!

Many of the 23 rib-ticklers in this collection were inspired by real-life experiences from Trillin’s children, grandchildren, and his own childhood. Young readers will giggle in recognition at the ploys used to convince one’s parents to get a pet, the earnest desire to send back a new baby brother, and horror of all horrors — sitting next to a scoocher sister who won’t stay on her side of the backseat. Grrrrrr.

She’s over the line,
she’s over the line.
She occupies space
That’s rightfully mine.

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to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free

“He’s a poet. Basically he’s a poet. He does not trust his voice. He doesn’t trust his guitar playing. He doesn’t think he’s good at anything, except writing—and even then he has self-doubts. Have you heard that thing he wrote about Woody Guthrie? That to me is the sum of his life’s work so far. Whatever happens, that is it. That sums it up.” ~ Eric Clapton on Bob Dylan

Glory Be! The man has gone and done it!

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature is such a crowning achievement for our favorite song and dance man. Bob turned 75 this year and is still breaking boundaries as the only singer-songwriter to have ever been awarded this coveted prize.

Aside from my inner fangirl whooping for joy and turning cartwheels at the sheer awesomeness of the whole thing, what I’m most happy about is that perhaps this distinction will inspire the average person to broaden his/her view of what constitutes “poetry.”

A rare smile!

Poetry doesn’t have to be esoteric, elitist, abstract or inaccessible. It doesn’t have to live in slim volumes with boring covers. It can be the well crafted lyrics of anthemic compositions that capture the heartbeat of personal and social history through time.

After all, poetry began as an oral tradition, much of it meant to be performed with music. To those who find Dylan undeserving, I would ask that they throw off their cloaks of intellectual snobbery and abandon preconceptions about conventional “Literature.”

Bob with his son Jesse.

“Literature” is not limited to printed novels, plays, or short stories. Talk to me about more than five decades of enormous cultural influence, words of searing truth, crackling inventiveness. Talk to me about enlarging the possibilities of American popular music.

Take the average Joe in a grocery store check-out line. Chances are he’s never read any of the Nobel Prize winning novels, but he’s heard a Dylan song or two.

A song is a poem for everyman.

I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.

Eight years ago, the very first time I hosted Poetry Friday, I asked participants to post their favorite Dylan lyrics. I shared the 8th of Dylan’s “11 Outlined Epigraphs.” He was 22 when he wrote this in 1963:

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