poetry

Last night I did something different. I participated in a Literacy Night at a local elementary school. Thanks to reader and amazing person/teacher Debra Rook!

The idea was to create custom poetry on typewriters. Typewriters! Which, as many of you know, are one of my obsessions. It was so awesome! I had such a great experience. The students selected two to three words and we had to create poems that included those words.
It was a cool way to get back to my roots and it also made me happy to create instantly.
My first “creative” job was creating custom poems for others. I built a company from those experiences and it was reasonably successful. But I haven’t been paid to create poems for others since 2006. But this experience reminded me so much of those roots.
It reminded me that I am an artist which I think gets lost in the everyday minutiae of my life. It isn’t something that I remember while I’m grading papers or teaching composition.
That instant creativity was awesome and let me tell you, those students picked some great and interesting words. I wrote poems about shampooing sharks, spiders and spinach, horses and heroes. Once again, I am speechless about how great the experience was for me and I can’t wait to do it again.
poetry

“Dark Phrases”-Ntozake Shange

Ntozake Shange is known primarily for her work, for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf. I came across an excerpt of the following poem on an Instagram account and immediately knew that I wanted to share it here. There is something about this poem that made look me back to a moment when I could only scream and cry as a means of expression and it was not when I was a baby. I thought that the picture below was the perfect accompaniment to “Dark Phrases” because it has a bit of darkness and the still evokes a sense of sound.

As always, enjoy!

photo of woman wearing funky dress
Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com

i can’t hear anythin
but maddening screams
& the soft strains of death
& you promised me
you promised me…
somebody/anybody
sing a black girl’s song
bring her out
to know herself
to know you
but sing her rhythms
carin/struggle/hard times

sing her song of life
she’s been dead so long
closed in silence so long
she doesn’t know the sound
of her own voice
her infinite beauty
she’s half-notes scattered
without rhythm/no tune
sing her sighs
sing the song of her possibilities
sing a righteous gospel
the makin of a melody
let her be born
let her be born
& handled warmly.

poetry

American History – Michael S. Harper

This post is a bit late. It should have been posted last month but I decided to still share it. It’s a piece that caught my attention because of its mention of “those four black girls”(Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, and Carole Robertson) who were killed in the bombing of Birmingham, Alabama’s 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15,1963. The poem is also a cyclical testament, a glimpse of the tragedies, of the black experience in America. The tale of those little girls is one that has resonated with me since I first learned of it, and this poem reminded me of just how much poetry is able to connect to historical and memorable moments.

brown wooden church bench near white painted wall
Photo by Nikko Tan on Pexels.com

Those four black girls blown up

in that Alabama church

remind me of five hundred

middle passage blacks,

in a net, under water

in Charleston harbor

so redcoats wouldn’t find them.

Can’t find what you can’t see

can you?

poetry

Intertwined

This is a piece that I wrote yesterday to share today. It is very rough and will definitely be one that I revise once this month is over.

So much of my identity

Is tied to her
To her face, her life, her family
Connected to being her pride and joy
To being her baby
So much of me
Still aims to please her
To fulfill her dreams of me, for me
Want to accomplish those goals
To be the person she knew I could
So on days like today
When the grief threatens
To overwhelm me
I remind myself that her love still covers me,
Is imbued in my skin, my heart, my being
I am still her mark on the world.
writing

OctPoWriMo

autumn background blur candle
Photo by Toni Cuenca on Pexels.com

In the month of October, I’m going to do something different. It’s called OctPoWriMo! I’ve decided that I’m not going to uselessly participate in Preptober knowing that I have in all likelihood given up on NaNoWriMo for the immediate future.  Instead I’m going to set my sights on creating one poem each day. No heavy revision until the month is over. Then I will reread them and decide if they’re worth keeping. One of the reasons that I’m excited about this is that I’ve decided that the poems created in October may be the bulk of my next collection; if I succeed.

I stumbled across the concept of OctPoWriMo while researching workshops in Southeastern Virginia. I was immediately taken by the idea of creating a series of poetry during the month. Even though I’m not going to enroll in the workshop that’s available; I knew that I was interested enough to give it a try. So, for the next thirty-one days I will be writing and creating new poetry which I may be posting throughout the month.

I’ve already been experimenting with shorter poems, so I anticipate having a nice mixture of pieces by the end of October. I’ll admit that some of the pieces may be based on drafts that already have two to six lines or ones that are incomplete but for the most part I will be creating based on whatever pops in my head. I will also be looking at some prompts on Poets & Writers.

Have any of you ever heard of or participated in OctPoWriMo before?