Tag Archives: poetry

A Quilt For Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A Quilt For Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So last month, I participated in National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo.  I didn’t mean to, in that I hadn’t planned it at all, until the evening of 1 April, when a poem sort of hit me over the head.  Poetry is like that, at least for me, kind of how quilting has knocked me for a loop.

But unlike quilting, poetry has been in my life for ages, even longer than I’ve driven a car.  Last year I began again dabbling in that form of prose, and by bedtime on the first of April, I’d committed myself to giving NaPoWriMo another go.  The first poem came from the weekly ads circular, a missing child catching my attention.  I scribbled down what came into my head, typed it onto the internet, not entirely certain where that initial set of verses would lead.

Little did I know what was in store for me over the next twenty-nine days; quilts and martyrs and baseball and musings into the past.  And all of it, including my dad’s fight against cancer and my battle with laundry, was captured within thirty poems ranging from very brief to somewhat lengthy.  And as is my preference, none of them rhyme.

But all have been harnessed within one volume, titled A Quilt For Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which is now available on Smashwords (and soon enough on Apple, Barnes & Noble and other web retailers).  Themes range from faith and fabrics to aging and baseball, with music, noveling, and birthdays in between.  What I like most about this collection is how well it came together with little planning on my part.  Most of the poems were written off the top of my head, in the later hours of the day, as I was again faced with providing verses to continue my participation in NaPoWriMo.  Sometimes photographs were the inspiration, as I chose one shot per day to accompany the poems, all of which can be seen on my poetry website A Poem A Day, Thereabouts.  And yes, quilts proffered many an idea.  But as I was reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters & Papers From Prison, that German pastor gave me much poetry food for thought, enhancing the month’s output.

I’ve been writing poetry for over thirty years, and this collection, while written on the fly, is one of which I am most proud, and pleased.  It’s available in a wide variety of digital formats, so if you’re curious, give it a go.  I joked with my family, when announcing this release, that I wonder how many future books will have quilts on the covers.  I’m thrilled for the Mijos Quilt to be the first, and ta cheers thanks love to my eldest, for allowing that quilt to be photographed, and her backyard used as the background.  Maybe next time I’ll get Buttercup the basset into the act too.

Semi-retired

A relative long time ago there was a movie called Semi-Tough.  Back in those days, there was no internet, cell phones, iPods, or laptop computers.  But we all seemed to survive pretty well.

Not quite back that far, but not too many years later, I started writing poetry.  It was lousy poetry, teenage-angst to the gills.  But for a young woman growing up in the middle of nowhere, it tapped into a part of my brain, leaving marks on my soul.  After I met my husband I gave it up, because all I could write was depressing drivel that seemed incongruous with being head over heels in love.  But every once in a while, an event would lead me back to a poem, or two.  At that time I wasn’t writing much more than journal entries or lesson plans, a homeschooling ex-pat mum living in the UK.  Then NaNoWriMo invaded my life, and the rest is indie novelist history.

Until last month, when a short story was pirated.  That incident peeled away a layer of skin that at the time I didn’t notice was gone.  Writers have pretty thick hides, or we should.  And while mine is darn tough in some places, it’s just semi-tough in others.  My heart and soul were burned by that thievery, but hey, crap happens.  Get over it.

I thought I had, especially since finding NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month).  It’s not affiliated with NaNo, but I’ve been having a blast in between rediscovering my poetic roots and starting an epic poem that has sort of taken over April.  “The Hounds of Love and War” is pretty melodramatic, but not all the output has been angsty; “Ninja Hat Poem” and “The Pancake That Saved Silicon Valley” spring to mind.

In April, I also wrote what turned out to be the very beginning of a series; I didn’t plan it, but sometimes sagas crop out of nowhere.  I completed the first of who knows how many installments of that tale, and plan to return to it sooner rather than later.

While still writing poems.

And snapping clouds.

Easter Sunday 2013

And gardening.

Newly planted petunias, snapdragons and one verbena

And watching baseball (rarely at the park, but Spring Training was a heck of a ton of fun).

Cactus League in March 2013

And…  All the other stuff that happens when I’m not seated in front of my computer or somewhere else with pen and paper in hand.  I adore pen and paper, how the poems are fashioned, even the LONG ones, like “The Pancake That Saved Silicon Valley”.  It was fourteen single-sided sheets from a legal pad, and I reveled in every ridiculous minute of it.  (Pancakes, aliens, Eric Clapton, blah blah blah…)

Amid all this faffing about, I learned something else; I don’t particularly want to publish novels anymore.  In part, yes, due to having been pirated.  I’m pretty damn tough when it comes to some areas in my life.  But in others, I’m semi-tough.  And until I can be tough all over when it comes to publishing…

I’m going to pull back.  I’ll be retired fully once I finish “The Hounds of Love and War”; I want to publish that leviathan, one of these days, as it’s part-poem, part-novel.  As for the rest of it…

It’s like baseball or football, which is what the film Semi-Tough was in part about.  Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, and Jill Clayburg were a love triangle also involved with football and self-help movements.

(Remember, it was 1977.)

But whether it’s 1977 or 1999 or 2013, if one’s heart isn’t in something, what’s the point?  I don’t like admitting a pirate got the better of me, or maybe that’s not it at all.  Maybe poetry has been waiting for me to get over the angst, then return for new lessons.  Life is about learning, exploring, finding one’s true calling.  For the last couple of years it was publishing novels (and expunging a truck-load of melodramatic tendencies).  Now it’s something different.

As I begin this new adventure, I won’t be blogging about it; in part that I think I’ve said all I need to say about writing.  And that poetry is a wild, fleeting gift that arises without warning.  You can’t cage it, although you can revise, just as in noveling.  But the act of catching a poem, or being caught by one, isn’t the sort of treasure I could accurately describe in a blog post.  I’ve been blogging about writing since summer 2007, here at WordPress since last July.  Over the last six years I’ve met fantastic bloggers and authors who have enriched my life immensely.  Now it’s time to slip inside a poem and see what happens.

As I’ve noted on this site’s main page, I’ll consider myself semi-retired until “Hounds” is released.  Then I’ll be a fully retired author of novels or novel-like poems.  Indie publishing was a blessing that I’ll forever hold close in my heart.  But not everything lasts forever.  Some events are momentary, yet, unless I’m willing to sit quietly, those events might pass me right on by.  Thanks for reading this blog, and the books.  May all your authorial dreams be found, and may some of them sneak up behind you and say Boo!

Rough poem from Arizona

Years ago I wrote poetry, and I’ve been fiddling with it again over the last month or so.  Two poems have emerged whilst on holiday, and here’s one I just scribbled this morning, based on our drive last night from Tucson back to Phoenix.

 

“Night between Tucson and Phoenix”

 

Miles and cities and stars

all compete with truckers and truck stops

and night skies longing for a respite from heat, from scrub, from Pima cotton

grown in one of the driest places I have ever visited.

I thought the Princeton, California rice fields were odd.

Nothing prepared me for Pima cotton in the middle of the desert.

 

But in darkness cotton lies invisible,

as silent as mesquite trees and jutting rocks,

as yellow and purple flowers quietly decorating the highway.

All that remains is one of the darkest skies in my memories.

Stars shined halfway between Tucson and Phoenix, as if yet another

part of the country.

Phoenix is never hushed, but along I-10 a pitch-black

night overwhelms, subdues.

Big cities are too far away, miles of tarmac

broker two worlds.  I was in two worlds last night,

announced by hulking semi’s, their long cabs calling

the drivers to shut down and become

one with the night.  Fall into its blackness

and glory for a few hours.

The night only lasts a few hours.

The day lasts forever.

 

As we approached Phoenix, an eastern glow

beckoned, while the west remained cloaked in

black, beautiful night.  Black beautiful peace

was edgeless horizon to crescent moon with

an eyeless smile, noting the rightness of

stars’ correct placement in the universe.

In Phoenix stars are drawn by children

hoping for something glimpsed on holiday,

in books, as myths.

But halfway between Tucson and Phoenix, stars rule.

 

I’ve been listening to Endless Boogie’s “The Artemus Ward” and “The Montgomery Manuscript” as inspiration for this poem, and one other that has been written whilst on holiday.  Not sure what I’m going to do with them; if enough emerge, I might publish a collection.

Once I finish them, of course.  I feel like this one needs to be longer.  But for now, our last full day in Arizona, here’s a little of what’s on my mind…