Mike puts on the host hat in this third discussion on Seamus Heaney’s poetry, using the book “Seamus Heaney” by Helen Vendler as a guide. The poem this time is “St. Kevin and the Blackbird”. Heaney documents the folklore of a monk with intense control over body and mind that he held out his arm and opened his hand to be used as a tree branch for a nesting blackbird.
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 and Professor of Poetry at Oxford and Harvard universities, Seamus Heaney was perhaps the best known and most celebrated poet of the last fifty years. His death in 2013 prompted tributes from across the world.
“Seamus Heaney’s development as a poet is inextricably connected to the violent struggle that has racked Northern Ireland. Vendler shows how, from one volume to the next, Heaney has maintained vigilant attention toward finding a language for his time—“symbols adequate for our predicament,” as he has said. The worldwide response to those discovered symbols suggests that their relevance extends far beyond this moment.”
Ron hosts this stimulating discussion seeking the answer of what constitutes a love poem. The group considers three unlikely, not typical love poems by Robert Frost and Linda Pastan. What elements tell the reader they are about love or expressing love?
A flower becomes a telephone with a direct connection to the person you are thinking of. Does a love poem need to be about romantic love? Tone, imagination, the figure of speech, and rich imagery all play a part. Please join us for another tantalizing talk.
Ron and Betty host the discussion on Jane Hirshfield’s poetry. Ron shares these notes:
“In past meetings, we have discussed several theories of poetics, including Zapruder, Poe, Wordsworth, Rilke, and others. Other theorists employ explanation as to their primary technique. JH’s passage is representative of her entire book; it relies heavily on poetic technique to convey poetry’s special use of language, its intentions, and impact. Does her method clarify sufficiently, or, to use her term, does it “satisfy”?”
Touching on these topics, we select three of our favorite poems of Jane’s to discuss. Join us for an exciting look into the poetry of Jane Hirshfield.
To learn more about her new book and to purchase a copy, please visit this site:
“A French dip sandwich, also known as a beef dip, is a hot sandwich consisting of thinly sliced roast beef on a “French roll” or baguette. It is usually served plain but a variation is to top with Swiss cheese, onions, and a dipping container of beef broth au jus) produced from the cooking process.” -Wikipedia
I post many first and second drafts of my poetry on this site. The illusion of “public posting” develops a type of creative wall for me. Provides just enough pressure to help me work out the kinks.
Today I would like to share will you some raw stuff. I’m a story telling poet. Most times my poems are generated from a real life experience or observation then I attempt to carve something tangible from the block of emotional marble, if you will. I’m guessing most creatives, do not know exactly where inspiration comes from or where it goes once it’s released, but this marble metaphor is what I’m going with for now. However, the backdrop for this poem is not what most marble is used for, a god in crisis or an ancient emperor. Instead it is a four hour visit with my mom at her cabin, watching her cook a simple roast beef lunch. Ordinary and extraordinary all at the same time. Love does that.
So, I had an amazing experience and I thought I should do something with this.This is a poem, a poem I would like to share. Driving home I used my cars hands-free system to record to my phone. It’s a type of “moment capturing” that results in RAW free form poetry, or spoken free verse.
Above is the recording, below is the recording transcribed. The finish product may end up in one of my books some day. Hope you enjoy this little insight into my process. -Best wishes always, Shannon
Au jus by Shannon Laws
she asked me if I would like some Au Jus Ya that sounds good I haven’t had that in a while what kind of cheese would you like on it? and for some reason I said Jarlsberg she toasted it up on a bun and cut it on a long diagonal easy for dipping
at the cabin, we didn’t have the proper bowl for the au jus and she said well we have too small of containers or we have too large shall we go with too large or too small? and we both said too large
She toasted the bread just perfectly crispy crust on the outside and soft in the middle and we talked
We talked as I was raised to talk to talk around the dining table about common things and happy things things that will not disrupt digestion and I wondered if it was because she was raised in Minnesota or because she grew up on a farm or perhaps because she didnt get her first television set until she was 18 but she is such a good conversationalist I appreciate that about her and I realized it is a true art form I saw it for the art form that it is conversation good conversation over good food it does something to you it heals the soul it is good good times good people
it did even more than that it reminded me how much we all need each other and how much I needed her her in her late 70’s me in my early 50’s We don’t have much time with each other maybe 20 years who knows
I thought about my friends whose mothers have already passed and they all have said I wish I could just call her up on the phone sometimes and talk and here I am at a table in a cabin with my mother having an au jus sandwich
we talked we shared we laughed we had a wonderful visit
a four-hour lunch is a good time When I left she said Oh I’m going to take a look at your new car and I opened it up for her she looked inside and it made me feel better about my choice
and I want to tell you confess on paper here today no, it’s not a confession It’s a question… Have you ever seen your mother pray have you ever looked at her from across the room when she knew you weren’t looking at her and you saw her lips move and a subtle hand gesture maybe she looks up to heaven or off in the distance at nothing in particular and her lips move slightly and there’s a smile on her face or something and she just kind of glows for a moment and you know she is praying you don’t know the words exactly but somehow you sense the love from her
Do you have dreams about the home you grew up in? I can see my childhood home in my mind. The typical three bedroom west coast rambler; living area on one side and a looong hallway to the bedrooms on the other. As a young kid I was pretty sure the place was haunted. The creaky floor didn’t help.
Ghost in the Hall by Shannon Laws Odd Little Things, published 2014
When I was a child A Skeleton Ghost would walk The bedroom hall of our home Afraid of the dark I would sleep with the light on My door open just enough to keep out the trouble Ghosts are everywhere when you are four.
Often the ghost would wiggle its way past my door Steps heard creaking across loose boards Creak. Creak. Creak.
Down the hall slowly it walked Skeleton heading for the kitchen To fill up its ribs with mom’s pork chops Then fiddle its way back to bed After the meal was consumed
One scary night before this mystery was solved I slept between my parents for protection Bookends of adult and authority on either side Defense from anything ghoulish Each parent rolled over facing the walls As I lay blinking at the ceiling.
2 a.m. is Skeleton’s supper time Down it came toward my parents’ room Bones walk lightly when there is no moon Closer. Closer. Closer.
From the ceiling my eyes followed To see what stood at the foot of the bed Its frame wiggled trying to materialize To grab hold of me with solid hands Dad sighed in his sleep and the ghost misted away. Scared off by the possibility of his waking I waited. Waited. Waited.
My father was a quiet man, little brought out his anger, looking back I think dad was The Skeleton Ghost walking the halls at night His spirit jumping out, looking for food for his soul Wandering around for morsels of encouragement His bony frame proved little return
Wherever he is, I hope there is a table before him Every morning set with enlightenment, curiosity, love I hope he found peace because With one soft growl One scary night
Shannon hosts the discussion on the well-known modern American poet Rita Dove. Playing “devil’s advocate,” Shannon asks, “Do award-winning poets write amazing poetry—consistently?” Perhaps you’ve wondered this yourself while reading a famous poem? If you remove the famous name from the poem, is it still a “good” poem? Dove’s poem “Rusks” appears on all the top ten list of her best poems. Poetry Club tackles it line by line. Does it hold up or fizzle? Listen to find out.
Rita Frances Dove (b. August 28, 1952) Born in Akron, Ohio, U.S., as an American poet and essayist. From 1993 to 1995, she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She has the distinct honor of being the first African American and the youngest person to serve as poet laureate of the United States (1993–95). In 2018 she was named poetry editor of The New York Times Magazine.
President Bill Clinton bestowed upon her the 1996 National Humanities Medal, and President Barack Obama presented her with the 2011 National Medal of Arts, making her the only poet who has received both medals.
“There are so many casual pleasures in Ms. Dove’s poetry that the precision and dexterity in her work — the darkness, too — can catch you unawares.
Ms. Dove’s poems have earthiness, originality, power, and range. Despair and loss are among her central themes, but so is the hunt for bedrock human pleasures.”
-Dwight Garner, for the New York Times, May 31, 2016
This poem “South Beach” was written back in 2010 and later published in my first poetry chapbook “Madrona Grove” in 2013. It is what some would call a “process poem” where the writer uses the art of poetry to process a real event in their life. Of all the poems in the book THIS is the number one poem that generates an email, phone call or a conversation to me from the reader. I’m glad this poem has touched so many. When I read it, even 11 years later, a part of me is back on that beach. I can still hear the waves, I remember the eagle. That was the year of “no more.”
South Beach by Shannon Laws
Often, we would walk South Beach together That long large-pebbled beach along the Salish Sea on the island’s west side
Short, salt water waves lap up against the shore there, constant rhythm set by the wind, like a slow rock tumbler sifting for agates
Brown cliffs of San Juan barely hold a road on top itself Large crumbles of dirt clots lay at its feet predicting its fate
Hard soles are needed to walk this beach The stones just large enough to aggravate the arches as you walk, Hamstrings pull heavy with each step
Once in a while, whenever it wants to, a large eagle can be found perched on beach wood
He owns that beach and all who pass His royal brow gives no doubt
This is my favorite beach, you tell me, one foggy morning
We tried again to walk together I walked ’til I reached the Eagle King, you continued alone into the mist Mystery always favored over familiar I sit and watch you heavy step away
Alone you go into the fog leaving me to sit with the eagle You continue until a low cloud consumes you from my sight
I imagine you reach the end where the cliffs give way to the shore and the landscape bends around to the fields at Cattle point I saw you in my mind alone and happy with your thoughts and the sea
I sit and watch, You walk and ponder
A year later, You sat and watched as I walked off the island You let me go that year just like I let you walk the beach alone
Here is a poem from my latest book, “You Love Me, You Love Me Not” available on Amazon and at Village Books in Bellingham, WA. The book is an audio book and has a chap book accompaniment. The poem may come across as obvious to some. However, the book and this poem are attempts to explore that level of comfort and communication between two people who can read each other with eyes closed.
Introduction to Discovery
You are a question that must be answered
He touched me He touched me The way I wanted him to The way I wished he would He read my mind And he touched me
His fingers moved along the ridges Of my galaxy in search of the ignition old crate of dynamite hidden in the shed sweats with glycerin delicate to movement so my love is for you
drop that box! start a bang kick start a star to life
use all fingers to read me as a mystery novel written in Braille every bump, knob and dip a conjunction closer to knowing the riddle of Eve
This week at Poetry Club we ask what Is poetry analysis? Poetry analysis is examining the independent elements of a poem to understand the literary work in its entirety. Poetry Club member Lynn will host the discussion on the poem “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens (1879 – 1955) and we analyze the heck out of it.
Lynn sends us these notes:
“I’d like our discussion and reflections on this poem to move in the direction of exploring the mind watching our sensations and emotions while reading the poem…that does not hope to ‘solve’ the meaning of the poem… but expands the experience of the poem.”
Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955) was an American modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and he spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Collected Poems in 1955. credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Stevens
This program was produced by Chickadee Productions
This week Poetry Club Talks finishes our discussion about the late poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. We take a look at a few of his signature poems, discuss word selection, rhyme and speculate on the author’s intention. Ron is the host. He shares these thoughts, “The attachments provide 8 poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, including his best known and most admired, “constantly risking absurdity,” which I think are representative of his work and will offer a good basis for our discussion.” Poetry Club enjoyed talking about the work of Ferlinghetti. Please hit the “LIKE” button and comment.
“Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti (March 24, 1919 – February 22, 2021) was an American poet, painter, social activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. He was the author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration. Ferlinghetti was best known for his first collection of poems, A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), which has been translated into nine languages, with sales of more than one million copies. When Ferlinghetti turned 100 in March 2019, the city of San Francisco proclaimed his birthday, March 24, “Lawrence Ferlinghetti Day”.” -Wikipedia
All poems are copyright and owned by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Please visit Ferlinghetti’s website to read his full BIO and learn more about this important poet.