the pleasures and dangers of poetry readings

One of the opportunities that has arisen during the pandemic is the easy availability of poetry readings, as many institutions have re-imagined their live readings as online events.

I admit that I wasn’t in the habit of going to a lot of readings in-person before the pandemic. They are usually in the evenings and I try to keep as much evening time reserved for family as possible, so it was difficult for me to commit to the transport time plus the reading time. That is less of a factor now that I can attend and still be at home, in case something comes up that needs my immediate attention.

I’ve had the opportunity to attend a virtual book launch for fellow Boiler House Poets Collective member Erica Bodwell’s Crown of Wild. I heard one of my Smith College poetry godmothers Anne Harding Woodworth read from her new book Trouble, as well as her previous books. I’ve tuned into readings sponsored by the Smith College Boutelle-Day Poetry Center and the Binghamton University Center for Writers. I have even participated in an online reading with the Binghamton Poetry Project.

It’s been wonderful to hear poets reading their work and I’ve also appreciated the opportunity to hear poets speak about their lives and work in interviews or question and answer sessions.

I admit, though, that these discussions, particularly when they take place in academic settings, can shake my sense of myself as a poet.

I consider myself to be a community poet, meaning that my work is informed by my experiences much more so than by my academic background. While I have been blessed with learning about craft through the Binghamton Poetry Project, the Broome County Arts Council, Sappho’s Circle, and my poet-friends of the Grapevine Group and Boiler House Poets Collective, the last time that poetry was a significant part of my academic work was in grammar school, many decades ago. I’ve also learned a lot by reading different poets.

In comments in their readings, poets that I admire talk about the wonders of writing in forms like sonnets or villanelles and how this focuses their writing.

I’ve tried variously to write in form. I’ve never managed to write a traditional sonnet or villanelle that was worth making it out of my notebook.

The thought of trying to write a decent sestina is enough to make me break out in hives.

I do a bit better with forms that have made their way into English from Japan. I have written some successful haiku, tanka, and haibun. I am especially fond of tanka and have included several in my chapbook manuscript, which is still in circulation with publishers and amassing an impressive list of rejections. (Note to self: send more submissions.)

When I am feeling shaken about not having formal training, an English major, or an MFA with all their attendant skills and expertise, I try to remember the times that my poet-friends have reassured me that, although my poetry is different, it is still worthwhile – and that I am indeed a poet.

Now if I can just find those presses and publishers that agree…

SoCS: Words with Friends?

I’ve run into a bit of a hairy situation with Words with Friends.

I’ve been playing for years with both in-person and longtime Facebook friends. Occasionally, I also play with some friends of friends who challenge me. WWF lets me know in those cases with whom these new challengers are friends.

Lately, I’ve been getting challenges from people I don’t know.

They are all men.

Some of them have a much lower word strength than mine. My average word is 21. Some have no average word strength listed.

I start to send moves and then these guys start to chat. It tends to start with “Hi.” Then they may ask where I am from or start calling me “dear”.

I don’t answer. I don’t talk to strangers online. I’m perfectly willing to play a game but I don’t want to divulge any personal information to somerandomdude27 or whomever.

After a few moves back and forth without my answering the chat, these guys stop sending moves.

And then I win!

This has all happened since I changed my Facebook profile picture back to a picture of me (and a suitcase) after several years of using a photo of me and B on E’s wedding day.

Is it a coincidence that men started to try to chat me up on WWF after I changed to a solo pic?

Probably not…
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “hairy.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/14/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-15-18/

climate commenting

When I was on the online rapid response team for commenting on fracking issues in New York,  I learned over time not to revisit comments on articles, even though I knew I was getting inaccurate (and occasionally nasty) replies.

Due to changing circumstances, I haven’t been commenting on much of anything lately, but I did make a comment on a recent column by Thomas Reese, SJ, on a carbon tax. This has turned into a long stream of comments from a man who does not believe in mainstream climate science with my replies and a few others weighing in.

I have decided to stop replying at this point, but I’ve spent so much time on it that I thought I would share it here:
https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/faith-and-justice/carbon-tax-revisited

Links to Merrill’s poems

I’m re-blogging this post with the links to all Merrill’s poems, because it wound up posting on the draft date rather than current date. Enjoy!

Top of JC's Mind

As promised, here are the links to all of Merrill Oliver Douglas’s poems which have been featured this week by Eunoia Review.

In the Basement
High Tide
Crab Apple
What the Dream Reveals About Her Father
King’s Point, Delray Beach
I Love You Too Much to Wear Those Earrings
March
Cleaning Miller Pond
Song in Gray July
Woodchuck

Way to go, Merrill!

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