Tag Archives: poetry

Sweet Visions

Last week I posted a haiku writing from a close friend, Preston*, who I’ve known for more than 20 years.  Haiku (or hokku) is a Japanese verse form of poetry that follows a very strict composition of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables and is often a prelude to a longer poem or a story.  The terse nature of haiku verbiage always challenges the writer to capture what is absolutely necessary for that particular moment.  Such brevity is more difficult than most imagine, but just a few carefully chosen words can evoke extraordinary visions in the minds of an audience.

Smiling was easy

When our eyes were bright and clear

We were so naïve.

 

– Preston

 

*Name changed.

Image: Faunaimage

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Stolen Moments

A friend of mine, Preston*, has recently taken to poetry writing, or more specifically to haiku writing.  Haiku (or hokku) is a Japanese verse form of poetry that follows a very strict composition of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables.  Not popular in Western cultures until about the early 1900s, haiku are often accompanied by an image, or a pair of images, meant to depict the essence of a particular moment in time.  Their brevity is occasionally an introduction to a longer poem or a story, but its central purpose is to focus the reader’s attention on that one single moment that struck the poet’s mind as critical or somehow significant; a moment where everything came into focus; where the complexities of life were abruptly reduced to what is – and what is not – essential.

I trust and admire Preston greatly.  I wrote about him nearly 6 years ago in “One Good Friend.”  He’s truly one of those rare individuals who is focused and level-headed.  For us writers, focus is always a challenge, while level-headedness is sometimes elusive.

Time is a bandit

Reducing our hopes and dreams

To mere memories

 

– Preston

 

*Name changed.

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A Land Called México

They have experienced the glory and the pain.

They have weathered through generous pride and torrid shame.

They have felt the hate and the love.

They have lived through peace and seen blood.

They worshipped then, as now, both sun and moon.

They have guarded their temples and slept quietly in their tombs.

They have fought savage invaders and their very own.

They have been dragged through dirt and scraped their bones.

They have suffered through individual and collective emotions.

They have seen painful strife and been betrayed by unwanted notions.

These are the people who looked down from the mountains and built a nation on a lake they named Texcoco.

These are the people of a land called México.

 

I wrote this poem in the early 1980s and had it published in 1984 in “Our World’s Most Beloved Poems”, a compilation of poetry by the World of Poetry Press.  There’s not much information available now on WPP.  They published my poem for free, but – of course – I had to buy the gigantic book in which it appeared.  Yes, it’s amazing how naïve people can be at the age of 20.

Odd, but I never considered myself a poet.  A writer, obviously; yet poetry generally ranked somewhere between Reader’s Digest and the local classified ads, as far as I was concerned.  Still, outside of my blog, letters to a newspaper editor and a couple of anonymous romance inquiries circa 1990, it’s the only thing I’ve officially had published.

 

Image: “El Mercado de Tlatelolco” by Diego Rivera, c. 1935.

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The Soldier’s Christmas Poem

Thank you to Poet Creations for this.

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Trethewey Selected Poet Laureate

Natasha Trethewey has reacted humbly to her selection as the 19th Poet Laureate for the U.S. Library of Congress, even though she’s unintentionally broken the mold.  At 46, she’s the youngest U.S. Poet Laureate and, as a native of Gulfport, Mississippi, she’s only the second one from the South.  Poetry often has been considered the ugly stepchild of the literary world; no one wants to deal with it unless it’s absolutely necessary.  But, Trethewey approaches the craft “without preaching,” said James Billington, the Librarian of Congress.

Trethewey has attained some significant accomplishments, notably receiving the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her collection “Native Guard.”  She is the author of two prior poetry collections, “Domestic Work,” (2000) and “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (2002), and the 2010 nonfiction book, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”  Another collection of poetry, “Thrall,” is set to be published later this year.

“I’m still a little in disbelief,” Trethewey told the New York Times this week, before her selection had been publicly announced.

Trethewey discovered her poetic muse after a brutal personal tragedy.  While still a college alpahmore, her stepfather killed her mother.  Trethewey started writing poems “as a response to that great loss.”

Trethewey, who is currently Mississippi’s poet laureate, will serve the term as U.S. poet laureate concurrently. She has elected to live and work in Washington from January through May of 2013, becoming the first U.S. poet laureate to choose to work in the Poets Room at the Library of Congress during her term.

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