Poetry Club Talks…W.S. Merwin Part 1

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-etjuk-f7f983

Topic: The poetry and life of W.S. Merwin
Host: Amory & Linda
Poem: “Thank You” & “For The Anniversary of My Death”
Recorded: January 16, 2021

Four W.S. Merwin Poems

Poetry Club discusses two poems by American poet W.S. Merwin (b.1927-d.2019), “Thank You” and “For the Anniversary of My Death”.  Linda starts us off with his biography, then Amory guides us through two of his poems.  Merwin had a simple life as a Zen Buddhist, pacifist, environmentalist, and writer.  Can we ever know what the author truly intends?  Safe to say, we walk away from the two poems in awe of his world-class abilities, and personal life. 

Next week we’ll discuss “In Time” and “Elegy For A Walnut Tree”  

We are asleep with compasses in our hands.

Poetry Club Talks…RC Weslowski Part 2

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-bquhs-f67ef6

Topic: RC Weslowski
Host: Shannon
Poem: “Follow Your Dreams”
Recorded: January 2, 2021

Follow Your Dreams

In part two, Poetry Club enthusiastically examines RC Weslowski’s “Follow Your Dreams”, a three-minute slam performance poem.  The work brings up many questions such as is slam poetry poetry, and if so HOW do you approach it? We also explore if “writing hungry” produces better work and does success ruin the quality of creative expression or strengthen it. 

Thank you, RC for sharing your words.  We really enjoyed your three poems. -Poetry Club

RC Weslowski is the 2016 Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret award winner for excellence and innovation in the spoken word. He’s a 2 time World Cup of Poetry Slam Finalist, A Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Champion,  A Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Haiku Champion, A CFSW Underground Indie Champion, A CFSW Team Slam Champion, an NPS Haiku Death Match Runner Up, an NPS Team Slam Finalist and COACH of the 2014 Vancouver Youth Slam Team national champions.

RC gave us permission to discuss his poetry.  The poems attached belong to RC Weslowski.  Do not use without his permission.

Please visit his website to watch videos and learn more about this fascinating person.
http://rcweslowski.com/

Poetry Club Talks…RC Weslowski Part 1

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-qj3y3-f5f7e1

Topic: RC Weslowski
Host: Shannon
Poems: “Sparks” and “PNE Love Affair”
Recorded: December 26, 2020

Sparks and PNE Love Affair

The use of Hyperbole, Onomatopoeia, the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), and one special four-letter word is a few of the topics Poetry Club considers in this week’s discussion of the Canadian poet RC Weslowski.

RC Weslowski is the 2016 Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret award winner for excellence and innovation in the spoken word. He’s a 2 time World Cup of Poetry Slam Finalist, A Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Champion,  A Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Haiku Champion, A CFSW Underground Indie Champion, A CFSW Team Slam Champion, an NPS Haiku Death Match Runner Up, an NPS Team Slam Finalist and COACH of the 2014 Vancouver Youth Slam Team national champions.

RC gave us permission to discuss his poetry.  The poems attached belong to RC Weslowski.  Do not use without his permission.

Please visit his website to watch videos and learn more about this fascinating person.
http://rcweslowski.com/

Poetry Club Talks…Composition Styles Part 3

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-pdth8-f5ebb1

Topic: Composition Methods
Host: Ron Leatherbarrow
Poems: “Housekeeper”, “River Ink”, “Her Hands”
Recorded: December 19, 2020

In our final episode exploring personal styles of poetry composition, Shannon shares three poems written at different times, 2010, 2012, 2016, when her style shifted.  Her background in broadcasting plays an unexpected role, not only in her composition but also in the presentation.

Housekeeper, River Ink, & Her Hands

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash

Copyright ©Poetry Club ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This blog contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author/publisher.

Poetry Club Talks…Composition Styles Part 1

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-t2yin-f58795

Topic: Composition Methods
Host: Ron Leatherbarrow
Poems: “Gratitude”, “His Hat”
Recorded: December 12, 2020

Three of us volunteered to share poems and talk about our composition methods.  First up is Linda who shares two poems “Gratitude” and “His Hat” (below). She talks about that moment during the construction of a poem when a spark hits, why it’s difficult for her to “scrap” a poem midway, and more.

Gratitude, His Hat

Copyright ©Poetry Club ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This blog contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author/publisher.

Poetry Club Talks…Louise Gluck Pt1

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-4gjpa-f354f8

Topic: Louise Gluck
Host: Linda and Amory
Poems: “New World” and “Matins”
Recorded: November 21, 2020

Our first two-parter!
When Louise Gluck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2020, the NYT recognized that many were unfamiliar with her work. One of their writers posted five poems, from five different collections, to introduce her. Linda shares a brief Gluck bio and Amory introduces two poems.
In Part 2 Poetry Club discusses Gluck’s poem “Parable of the Hostages”

 

Poetry Club Talks…Methods and Strategies for Composing

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-bgsrw-f2de88

Topic: Methods and Strategies for Composing

Hosted: Ron

Poem: “Altered Landscape” by Ron

Recorded November 14, 2020

Ron puts his money where his mouth is by submitting his own poem (below) for this week’s discussion on strategies for composing.

On a yet uneventful fall morning 
we tuned in, all channels, to news breaking.
We saw the monolithic twins tower
beyond the New York City skyline, higher arching   

emblems of America’s enormous
wealth, unassailable power,
and leadership in world affairs;
and life-source of our nation’s busy-ness    

The planes appeared, at first, 
at the bottom of the screen, 
by their diminutive presence,  
simply to augment the scene,
then, turning toward the center,
disclosed their sinister intent: 
to shatter our national serene    
and apprise us of the error   
of our culture and content,  
by a sacrifice obscene,             
and realize the awful threat of terror.       

then collapse in a cascade more sudden
than our startled eyes and minds could follow    
into a burgeoning mountain of rubble, 
the billowing dust veiling the vast hollow,    

and watched the constant replay, mesmerized,
unable to withdraw our captive sight
or avoid awareness of the massive scale of life
entombed within that monumental blight,    

on the altered landscape of our lives
condemned always to carry the remnants:    
seared mercilessly in each mind’s eye,
the indelible images and events. 

Poetry Club Talks…Bukowski

Photo credit Jaredd Craig, on unsplash

NEW! NEW! NEW!
Poetry Club is here for three reasons, to increase the understanding and appreciation of poetry, illustrate healthy communication between people of different opinions, and promote the creation of new poetry clubs in your neighborhood.

Since October 2015 we have been meeting in local coffee shops in our city, Bellingham, Washington. It started when four of us took Ron’s “Introduction of Poetry” class at a local community college. We enjoyed it so much we asked Ron if he would like to continue the discussion in a casual atmosphere. Currently, we are about 5-7 people who meet every Saturday online. Every week we discuss the work of a different poet, classical to contemporary.

Thank you for listening, participating, and for loving poetry.

Contact us via our Facebook page– https://www.facebook.com/Poetryclubbellingham

S1E1 Poetry Club Talks Charles Bukowshki

Poet: Charles Bukowski, b.1920- d.1994
Hosted: Shannon 
Book: What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire, Published June 1st, 2002 by Ecco Press (first published June 5th, 1999), Paperback, 416 pages
ISBN: 1574231057 (ISBN13: 9781574231052)
Poems Discussed: The Mice, The 12 Hour Night, and a video feature available here: Tom Waits reads Nirvana by Charles Bukowski  https://youtu.be/W-vdPkESLZs

Podcast Recorded: October 10, 2020

##

Day 62: Arguing with Myself

Shower Thoughts from Twitter: If we saw souls instead of bodies, our definition of beauty perfection and our world would be so different.

It’s been a few days.  The days between entries of this Pandemic 2020 Journal have larger spaces between them.  But I am still here, do not worry my five followers, do not worry.

I’m going to break one of the rules I had going into all this–DO NOT EVER appear to be bragging or complaining about work.  OK?  Alright, here we go…  Before going into the shelter in place I was working 56 hours a week, and I still am. (!!) Somehow, the stars lined up and I am in a beautiful Pacific Northwest medium-sized town of 90,000 people, not too dense, not too county, a college town, full of brilliant people of every spectrum; SO brilliant in fact our local labs developed COVID tests, AND BOTH of my jobs are considered essential.  Considering the employment stress I’ve been through the last eight years…well I mean the last twelve years (…well I could go farther back but let’s keep going…)  *clears throat*
Considering all the stress I’ve been through over the last eight years I was relieved.  Relieved is an understatement.  So, I tell you the truth–if both jobs had let me go, and if I had to wait 30 days for my unemployment, I would need the food bank.  I would be next-level-stressed.  In February I had about one month’s worth of bill money and food reserves.  I was working on a savings plan after the holidays. A plan that included saving for a small condo before I’m 60, and a simple vacation for myself this October. It might still happen.  Who knows. A girls gotta dream…

photo credit: bandsintown.com, Firefly, featuring Nels Andrews, 2019

It’s so scary for so many, too many, homes right now, not to mention small businesses.  The Firefly, a popular music bar in town, announced this week on Facebook that they decided to close its doors. Very sad.  Here is my question: will freakin’ big chain companies come in and gobble up the “for sale, foreclosure” retail space in the brick and mortar of cities across the country?  I hope not.  Back in the ’80s, a new law was passed about the gas station’s gas storage tanks.  -true story-  You see there used to be ma and pa gas stations.  Yep.  This new law required an upgrade to those massive underground storage tanks.  However, little if no funding was offered to assist.  This was so expensive to switch out, almost all of the privately-owned gas stations closed and the big names, ARCO, SHELL, CHEVRON, scooped up those ideal corner lots for themselves.  Sons o’ bitches.  I like and support local & small businesses. How will this pandemic change the face of our cities and towns?

CHANGE

I decided to re-pierce the second set of piercings in my ears to mark the change I’ve personally experienced through the pandemic.  I closed them years ago and plan to re-open them at home with a well-sanitized needle.  I’ve already ordered the gold loops.  I never wear gold, but these small loops feel like enough of a sacrifice for my needs.  I NEED a visual reminder of these months.  I feel I must “mark” this change, like how an irregular ring of a tree marks a drought, flood, volcano, or perhaps stunning growth. A scar is demanded!

Crud, it’s a trend! Women Are Leaning In And Loving Their Gray Hair Like Never Before, Huffington Post, April 2020

I’ve changed of course.  My whole body along with a questionable romantic future of any kind.  Most 50-year-old men scoop up the daddy issue filled 35-year-olds that can give them a baby.  50-year-old single men seldom want another 50-year-old woman, so fuck them.  (This attitude will suffice for a few more years so leave me alone…)  Last summer I shaved my head.  It was time to rediscover my natural hair color.  I jumped in, why not.  It’s been six months since my last cut.  Today I have four inches of salt n’ pepper. Then, without warning, menopause snuck in through the cat door.  The hot flashes seem to have stopped, but the hormone imbalance hit me like a ton of bricks, well about 60 pounds of bricks to be exact.  Fuckin’ change.  Life is full of it!

Entering the third month of sheltering in place I am a changed person; physically, spiritually.  Also, I acquired new skills.  (the fun continues) I know how to host a zoom meeting, attend a zoom meeting, how to adjust the lighting in my home for a zoom meeting, and sit with proper posture for two hours to hide a double chin or my loss of interest. I know how to walk a new tenant through a lease signing remotely, how to turn over a family shelter with a turnaround team while social distancing.  I learned I had the computer power to remote into my office platform and create the two weekly and one monthly publications.  I’ve learned how to change the freakin’ battery in a cordless mouse.  I’ve learned to listen to people around me and differentiate between regular panic and pandemic panic.  I give grace and space to both.  I’m on the road about four times a week.  Driving is new.  More bikes, more foggy heads, drivers go too fast, too slow.  A friend use to say, Stay Alert, Stay Alive!  It’s true.  Very true.

**

So here is the new poem I shared this week at Poetry Club: Pandemic Edition.

Can of AIR
by Shannon Laws

The apartment is 500 square feet.
The smells in my 500 square feet are important to me.
I judge my cleanliness which is equal to my humanity by its smells.
It is mid-May, and it is noticeably missing any hint of lavender or vanilla.
Instead, the fragrance of fresh dirt in the newly potted house plants,
and the body oils embedded in the couch fabric touch my nose.
The bathroom smells like soap, shampoo, and Lysol as I want it to.

Does everyone know what air smells like? Good clean fresh air?
No, not everyone, everywhere.
Maybe air has no smell so the perfect canister of “air” should be
filled with nothing.
But that doesn’t work either.

If you buy air you want it to be better air than what you are currently smelling.
New and improved air.
The illusion of a clean, happy, healthy home at your fingertips after a fish dinner.
Few want a can of Dusty Closet.

I purchased this can labeled “Air” and I’m not buying it, but I did buy it
now I can’t throw it away until it’s used up, because then I’m wasting money
and that is much worse than being a person in a smelly house.

**

My current mood expressed by meme.  Stay alert, stay alive. -Shannon


https://www.ewg.org/research/mtbe-knowledge/storage-tanks-were-known-be-leaking-1970s-and-1980s

Day 38: Raw Poetry

Northwest Washington is experiencing some rain this week.  Most of us are well equipped for walking in the rain, but if you can find a sunshine break to get in a mile or more of a walk it is perfect!

The monthly poetry discussion group I’ve been apart of since October 2015 is meeting on a weekly basis during the shutdown.  We call it Poetry Club: Pandemic Edition, find us on Facebook.  Somehow we have been discussing the work of Robert Frost for ALL of April.  We got stuck on his work and can’t get off that bus.   The discussions are stimulating, nonetheless, thanks mostly to the host Ron Leatherbarrow, who taught Frost at a collegiate level.

Here is the rough poem I’m sharing with the group for critique.  It’s a poem I found in my writing journal from 2017:

Sawdust
by Shannon Laws

“And, as my way is, I begin to dream, resting my elbows on the desk and leaning out of the window a little,” -John Ashbery

As I stand to look out the windows of the factory,
I wish I did not have to sweep this floor on such
a summer’s Saturday.
I imagine, past the trees and along the waterfront,
people are walking with inner peace.
And I envy them—they are so far away from me!
No one has to worry about working five hours of
overtime to help pay their bills.
And, as my way is, I imagine myself small, a doll
in the hand of a god.
The mill—a toy house and the window fills up
with the freckled face of the child that plays.
If the real world is large and I just a toy, still I would
want to run free.
Freedom is better than shelter and care, I bravely think.
But inward I know I only have what others have given.
So, here I am, under the press of having to shovel a
mound of sawdust into the bin.

 


My Netflix queue is Peaky Blinders, Ozark, Dracula, Outlander, the very silly DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and the original Star Trek with special effects remastered.  Star Trek could be a drinking game; take a shot of tequila every time a woman apologizes for almost being raped.  Oh my gosh, I did not know how sexist that show was!

Have a good day!  Be nice to yourself and those around you!  -Shannon