Library School Day 2

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Hello Poets!

I am tasked with constructing a blog for my library class, but thought rather than whirl down the drain of temporary cyber space, I would instead combine the process of poetry with the process of my career; as often they have been one and the same. So, for those of you following along, I have begun my studies (online of course) at San Jose State, to get a degree and be a real-live-grown-up Librarian.

Last month I wrote an article on LinkedIn about the importance of libraries in a society that seems to have forgotten them. Though my experience has been far different, I know the general consensus is the long swan song of our public bookish spaces.

Here, I want to express my love for a small but important section of the library that pangs deeply with all of us: Poetry 813. 

The Poetry Section is a Mess. 

Not just because poets from opposing centuries get different numbers, like 811.3 or 811.8 or later in anthologies 820… no poetry books in libraries (Dewey System anyway) have a certain tendency to be thin and disheveled because poetry is disheveled. We are in an age of ever changing standards. I see it all day long working on the journal [NGQ]. I find the poetry section, unlike any other section in the stacks, to be the vast tree rings of our complex theories. A rough cut crystal hastily cracked to marvel what lies inside. The poetry section makes me wonder about what was lost, pared down, purged from the ever bulking shelves. 

I think often of the poetry shelves. The paper whisp editions of temporary art. I imagine the poetry section is purged with the most frequency and the least impact. This poet out of vogue, that long lost writer in his place. And yet, we are clearing only half an inch away. Not an encyclopedia, not a novel. Five score pages, no more.

I think often of myself on the poetry shelves. 811.13 WIR

But there is no such book. Nor will there ever be. For many of us, the poetry shelves are little more than a throw back to a simpler more guarded time. Now the internet provides for us our own shelf, equipped with the whisperes of fellow poets, aspiring writers, quiet readers. We are luckier than anyone on the 813 shelf. No purging. No missing books, lost forever in someone else’s living rooms.

I think often of the tree rings of this writing generation. Millenials, they call us. I once used that term in my thesis (long before it came into common tongue) to describe anyone writing now. Not just the youth, but the longstanding veterans, who wrote to capture this moment. This tree ring.

It has grown out of itself; sprouten and sprawled into something more complicated, unruly and wild. The tree ring of this writing generation is a seed. And with that we have outgrown the poetry shelf, our humple reminder of what greatness came to a lifetime ago.

Keep Writing and Visit Your  Local Library

ECW

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Thanks for Reading

Hello Readers,

My stance on poetry has always been an emphasis on words rather than works. The words drive the motion of human empathy, not the poet and certainly not the poetic persona. It was with that in mind that I sign all my poems ECW, rather than my full name. In a sense the initials represented a version of anonymous that I could use to separate the words, my poems, from the works, my ego. In doing so I felt I granted them a sense of freedom from myself, an otherwise fatally young unpublished novice of the trade.

It has been almost a year since I granted this site its own domain name, a stray burst of ego I felt the poems deserved. I retired the original “ACallToVerse” blog in favor of a more extemporaneous name, a name that would be effortless and rooted in value. The change paid off.  I went from 13 followers (many of them duplicate emails and ex-boyfriends) to over 100 friends and strangers, many of you poets and artists yourselves. The great joy of your company has both inspired me to write with more gusto and attend to the website with more care. Without you I would be simply a quiet light in a bright city.

I told myself I would need to write an ‘About the Author’ page on the once I got 100 followers. I now have over 100 and I have procrastinated and waited to find the right words. So while I endeavor to craft some kind of personal statement, I first wanted to say thanks for reading. Your participation in this site has given me hope for the present and future of poetry, and for that I am eternally, digitally grateful.

About the Author Page coming soon.

Until then, here’s a picture of me in a teacup. (My fiancé and I just had a whirlwind day-trip to Disneyland)

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(I’m all squinty, it was rather sunny)

Poem 83 Editing

Playing Favorites

This is a technique that grew from the idea of heart lines, the concept that there is a line in the poem that creates the work around it. This mini-version is like looking for the pulses on a sonar. In each of these 3 line stanzas a high, medium and low point establishes itself, like a pattern with no reason. There are lines I would keep and lines I would throw away. Of course there are other ways to look at a poem like this, I just saw the simplest to explain.

When looking for strong lines, we are also looking for the intention of the poem. That might sound silly after all of my other preaching about letting the poem come to life and allowing it to be itself. But the truth is poetry is a second language and we are sometimes lousy translators. When a poem gets muddy it is important to see where you were trying to go, where you feel is the best representation of the feeling, like a tiny heart line, a pulse.

These pulses are not necessarily the be-all-end-all for your work, just a sign that there are other forces under the poem working past the muck. So, like a sonar, if we highlight these lines we get a better picture of what’s really under the water. Cheesy but you get my point.

This poem was done as a representation of a painting. There are 1,000 ways I could have gone with it, but in this case I saw it fit to emphasize the personality of yellow in an internal rhyme syncopation. That, I hope, was the poem that was trying to get out all along. You’ll have to see for yourself.

TAKEAWAY

Here’s another way to look at a poem that might not yet have its sea legs. Looking for the peaks, or pulses, in each stanza will allow you to better landscape your poem and see what you were trying to write. We don’t always get it right the first time, but there are plenty of ways to rediscover the poem lurking below.

Poem 83 RevisedPoem 83 Original

Poem A Revised

On Modern Art
No matter width or stickiness
oil on cloth— motivates brushstrokes
to static-electric telepathy
between minds. Where one eye sees
a woman and the other sees a waltz;
where the two are one. Not a woman
waltzing but the dichotomy of
impossibilities. A body. A dance. A hand.
A brushstroke. Artists painting paradoxes:
Neither dancing nor standing still.
–ECW

Poem 83

An assignment from 18 months ago. describe a painting.





White all white, but white when it pretends to be yellow
With mustard catastrophes
Falling down down until they meet the storm
It begins with spheres. Maybe. If only they could agree
On their trajectory. Burrowing out the blackness
Desperate crimson navy epiphany. Flashing lights.
Scribbling. Over and over until the golden blending
Comes again to new circles, its own length from the base
Where yellow cyan smudging compromises into green
The pathetic furrowing of greys blues and wax
Blacken near the middle where lifeless pearlescent curls
Calm the outer reaches of the canvas.
White all white, but white when it pretends to be yellow
And settles for deep blue or ruby when it cannot be that.
White, the quiet in the corners, compromising colors.
 –ECW

Shouting in the Literary Conversation

I promised myself I would never make a blog, but this seems important enough.
Everything I know about poetry lives in anthologies. And then there’s the internet: a swarming mass of untapped inspiration and no one to harness it. So here I am, with my puny blog asking for something bigger than a connection or a website. I’m looking for the next splash in the poetry world. Are you with me?
The literature of the time is decided by men and women at desks with lofty titles. This Cannon will exist beyond this year and the next and eventually define poetry for the future. Even more important than that is the Literary Conversation: a trail of ideas and experiences shared through writing and art that spans generations. Will you be part of it? Are you with me?
The poetry sections in bookstores are too small. There are too many poets writing on napkins and in the margins of textbooks to ignore any longer. Forget what you know and share with me what you see in the world. Throw your ideas into this hat and see if you don’t walk away with something greater.
This space is for sharing, editing, discussing, suggesting. The poems you post will be your own, but the ideas we create will better mold the landscape of poetry and the way we treat inspiration. Are you with me?
I’ll start with a poem very close to my heart. Please tell me what you think, where I can improve. Post one of your own in the comments and we will do the same for you.
–keep writing
On Modern Art
Existence depends on brushstrokes
No matter width or stickiness
This oil on cloth—stretching forward
Endows perspective—we depend on
Disorganized mind-waves
Buckling thought processes
Folding one image upon another
Like a resting fan
Anticipating a flip sunward
Revealing divinity… perhaps
Existence depends on the
Static-electric telepathy between
Minds, where one eye sees
A woman and the other sees a waltz;
Where the two are one. Not a woman
Waltzing but the dichotomy of
Impossibilities. A body. A dance. A hand.
A brushstroke. God paints paradoxes:
Neither dancing nor standing still.