Organ of the Soul

Iphone Pics and Videos 007It’s cloudy and wet in Charleston today, the air swampy and pungent as is typical of August in this region. While I am still not used to it, I am less unused to it than I was three years ago when I moved here from Albuquerque. This morning, instead of taking my usual stroll around the neighborhood and down the bike path that runs through West Ashley, I opted for the treadmill at the gym where the air is at least somewhat controlled. I even followed up with 30 minutes of yoga before making a quick visit to the chiropractor for some therapeutic attention to what some call my “boulder shoulders”. I am blessed with a Tuesday/Thursday teaching schedule this semester so can look forward to spending my Mondays much in this way — at least until Midterms when grading papers will take precedence over feeling good.

Last week marked the beginning of the fall semester and was filled with last-minute revisions to class syllabi, office hours, and lesson plans. The early semester juxtaposition of high energy and intense focus sometimes makes me feel a little schizophrenic. Though I felt exhausted by the time Friday rolled around, I was charged from meeting this year’s new crop of students. I can already tell it’s going to be a great semester.

I opted to teach two classes this semester so that I might focus on other projects, namely submitting poems and poetry manuscript to suitable markets. Though it means tightening my belt and cutting out quite a few extras (and not so extras), I think that the trade-off will be worth it, even if it’s just more time to write and submit. Up until this year, my submission activity has been pretty light. I will be buckling down this semester and getting my work out into the world.

Meanwhile, poems for the 2017 Zingara Poetry Picks are streaming in at a nice pace and my community Creative Writing classes are going well. It’s great to be back in full-swing again.

I want to share with you a few of the thoughts that are running through my mind grapes this day; little odds and ends – snippets that might deserve further development or investigation:

  1. I think it is Borges who is credited with the theory that the soul is contained in the voice, at least that is what David Isay, founder of Story Corps, said in an interview by Krista Tippet in the May 12, 2016 “On Being” Podcast. When I google the phrase, I also get “the human voice is the organ of the soul” from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I like both of these ideas, especially when  thinking about, and writing, poetry. I’m going to ponder it all this week.
  2. The law of attraction suggests that like things are attracted to one another. In the physical world, this phenomenon is observable in H20 wherein polar molecules are attracted to one another like magnets: water molecules actually glob on to other water molecules. In the world of human constructs, it also seems that wealth attracts wealth, privilege attracts privilege, and power attracts more power. From these observations our culture has developed the theory that positive thinking can attract positive experiences and lifestyles; that we can manifest the life we want. It makes sense that this theory is not confined to what we consider desirable circumstances. Isn’t it also true that poverty attracts more poverty, addiction more addition, and violence more violence? Manifesting something other than what one is experiencing in these circumstances, while possible, is no easy feat. The move from poverty to wealth, for example, or violence to peace, requires nothing less than Herculean effort.
  3. And finally, this : able-bodied-ness is a temporary state for pretty much everyone.

That’s it for this Monday Minute. Leave your comments below and have an interesting, curiosity-filled week.

Z-Poet

Amber by Jeanne DeLarm-Neri

Before the boots wore out we found
a vast ridge of desert hills to cross,
villagers to meet, other hands to hold.
We talk like we did at fourteen,
tucked under blankets miles separated,
at three a.m. Back then, the phone cord
stretched to the end of its coil.
We stayed quiet as mice in walls
but not quiet at all – stop that scurrying!
Sleep now. The unconscious has surfaced.
Blood pumps DNA –it twists, dances.
We’re ancients, you and I.
The liquid of us received the fall of gnats
and wasps – their wings fell into us,
fossilized. These chunks of amber
once flowed free. We forget how blocks
form, how eons compress into the size
of postal cartons till we feel the rush
that made them, when sap oozed
and plasma shimmered in its puddles,
back when the exciting conduit transported
the minerals of what we’ve become.

Though Jeanne DeLarm-Neri has written poetry and stories for her entire life, she also earns a living in other fields, particularly as a bookkeeper at a private school, and as a vendor of antiques. Her poems and short fiction have been published in two anthologies (In Gilded Frame 2013 and Poems Of The Super-Moon, 2015), and several literary journals, one of which, Slipstream, nominated a poem for the Pushcart Prize. In 2014 and 2015 she was a contributor at the  Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She’s currently working on a book of poems and a novel.

My father tells me when I am married I will learn a new trick: by Tiffany St. John

to make the sun shine brighter

by my relative dimness, to reflect
the light of a lover, to speak

in the tones a cattail speaks in,
to be the plain, but not the wind across it.

Sometimes, he says, you can be completely invisible.

He tells me to be a toothless
lion, to wait

in the paleness of night for a brassy star
to overpower me.

Joy is in the sacrifice,
he says. My father says. My father

who has never been pollen, carried
from one stamen

to another, who does not lie like a needle in a pile
the size of a haystack, or been strings plucked

until the sound waves grew cancerous,
who has never steamed away, singular

into something plural, into pocket-sized ghosts,
who has never been erased from photographs

or been a moon.

Tiffany St. John is an eager pursuer and peruser of Poetry, Psychology, and Philosophy. She lives with her husband and two cats in Columbus, Ohio. She has been published in Black Warrior Review and awaits publication in the upcoming anthology Poetry on Loss through Little Lantern Press.

New Creative Writing Class in Charleston Community

f89a6047e669ec1ac91be6381d9ec13eI am happy to announce that I will be teaching  a creative writing class open to community members at Bliss. Thanks to Tish for providing such a wonderful space for dream incubation

Creative Writing Extravaganza
Tuesdays, August 16 – October 4, 2016, 7:00 to 8:30 PM at Bliss Spiritual Co-op
1163 Pleasant Oaks Drive, off Chuck Dawley Blvd
Mount Pleasant, SC

No registration required! Attend all eight weeks or drop in when you can!

Come learn about or deepen your understanding of poetry, memoir, creative non-fiction, essay and short fiction writing. During this eight-week class, we will explore how the raw material of our life experiences informs our artistic expression and how we can develop those expressions into finished pieces. Each class will focus on a specific sample or style of writing from which students will generate their own work by responding to prompts, engaging in invention activities, and emulating the sample writing itself. Time will also be set aside during each class for students to read aloud from any new work they wish to share (always optional). All levels are welcome.

We will explore:

  • Imagination in prose and poetry
  • The music of the sentence
  • Forms of poetry (and why they matter)
  • Elements of narrative
  • The Lyric Essay
  • Flash fiction
  • Fun with metaphor, simile, and personification
  • Flash creative non-fiction
  • The role of the writer’s journal
  • How drawing helps writing
  • Deepening writing through awareness and meditation
  • Deepening awareness and meditation though writing
  • Establishing a regular writing practice
  • Working through fear of failure
  • Working through fear of success
  • The joy of revision
  • Revising life stories for empowerment
  • Deepening craft through self-awareness

Bring your journal, favorite writing instrument, and inner child!

A Small Event by Stanley Kaplan

The source of the singer’s lament,
stuck in his clogged throat,
holds the story in its hideous space.

Hiding the false meaning he was told,
tittering like the bird, hiding in its
plastic cage,

he tries to sing, but chokes instead,
too much this day his daily bread,
his Vegas stint, his small event.

Stanley Kaplan has published poetry in a number of journals, including Onthebus, Midstream, Chiron, Ragazine, Quiet Courage etc. with more forthcoming. He lives in New York City, where he paints as well as writes, He is the recipient of a Pollock- Krasner Foundation grant and his paintings can be seen at www.pkf.org.

Remembering Monk, 1966 by Denise Low

Thelonius prowls stage
edges while

the drummer
drills a solo

jigs back backwards
to the bench

spreads fingers
stares at them

ripples an arpeggio
see-saw fall

clunks two
notes at once

stops
for the cymbals

walks behind curtains
comes back

outlines a snake spine
of notes stops

walks out maybe
gone maybe.

Denise Low, a Kansas Poet Laureate, is award-winning blogger and author of 25 books, including Jackalope and Mélange Block. Her memoir Turtle’s Beating Heart is forthcoming, Univ. of Nebraska Press. Low is past board president of AWP. She has an MFA, Wichita St. Univ., and Ph.D, Univ. of Kansas. www.deniselow.net    

 

2016 Zingara Poetry Picks Complete

This morning, I selected the last poem for 2016’s Zingara Poetry Picks and am happy to report that this will be the first time in the site’s history that a poem will be posted for every week of the year. It also represents the achievement of a goal I have been chasing since re-visioning this project in 2010.

Zingara Poet is a labor of love, one that requires a lot of time which must be carved out of a of a busy life filled with such activities as grading papers, taking the cat to the vet, having the car repaired, paying taxes, fixing dinner, spending time with the husband, seeing the dentist, moving across country, finishing an MFA, and, oh yes, sleeping.

Still, I always approach the project with anticipation and always look forward to reading the submissions in my inbox. I am frequently impressed by the quality of work and often find myself contemplating a poem for several days — which often means my readers will, too. And because this year’s submissions have been so wonderfully awesome, I’ve lingered even longer than usual in making final selections.

Let me reiterate that previous point: This year’s submissions were truly wonderful. I am humbly grateful.

All this careful reading and busy life-living, however, imposes a longer wait-time for those who submit work. Some poets waited for as many as as eight months before hearing from me this year, and though no one has been unreasonably grumpy about this situation, I am looking into ways of cutting that wait-time down.

Firstly, there will be two submission periods for 2017. Poems submitted during the first submission period, August 15 to December 30, 2016, will be considered for the first half of 2017 (January – June, 2017). See submission guidelines for complete details.

Poems submitted during the second submission period, February 1 to April 30, 2017, will be considered for the second half of 2017 (July-December) 2017).

As always, I reserve the right to extend these submission periods.

Secondly, beginning August 1, (that’s today) I will be bringing an intern on board to help with administrative tasks, thus freeing me up to read and respond to submissions in a more timely manner. I will be introducing her to you in the next week or so.

Thirdly, well, there isn’t a definite third thing yet, though it is developing and involves a lot of brainstorming on my part. In any event, more great features and opportunities will be unveiled in the weeks and months ahead. Just know that I am moving toward making the project more visible and viable. Besides, building something carefully over time is preferable to doing too much too soon. Two big things can be enough for now.

Let me close by once again thanking all of this year’s contributors and readers. Zingara Poet means to be the change I wish to see in the publishing world. If you like the direction in which this project is moving, please submit your poems, subscribe to the site, and share widely with your friends.

Write On!