For Poetry Month: Meaning and Pleasure featuring Michael Dickel and Myra Schneider

It’s great to get a poem or story published. It’s about income and getting read and for some it’s validation as well. These are all important (even vital), but I was reminded recently that our poetry and other writing is about so much more.

In the introduction to the March issue of The BeZine, themed Science in Culture, Politics and ReligionContributing Editor Michael Dickel wrote:

American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel

“The title of David Cooper’s book on Kabbalah invites us to re-think the Creator as Creating: God is a Verb. While I don’t want to equate science to God in a religious sense, I want to borrow this re-conception. Science is creative, creating, if you will, knowledge of the world. Science is a verb.”

Jamie Dedes

A friend of mine came to visit and glowed when she told me she’d read Michael’s introduction. God is a Verb and Science is a verb popped out at her. Something she’d been struggling with suddenly fell into place. Other company arrived and I wasn’t able to get further explanation. I’m pleased but not surprised with her reaction to Michael’s piece. It demonstrates the power of words to bring joy, clarification and healing.

My own recent experience: a few people commenting or emailing me saying my post here – not with a bang but a whimper – helped release needed tears.

On another occasion a woman in Scotland wrote to say she’d read my poem – Wabi Sabi – to her wabi sabi group.  They found it inspiring. Wow! While I do need my payments, it’s this sort of thing – this human connection – that is satisfying right down to the marrow of my bones.

Poetry is also important as an entry point into sacred space for both artist and audience.  This is motivation for everyone to practice their art, whether professionally or as amateur, which is not a pejorative. I’m sure many of you – if not all of you – know what I mean.  There’s a shift that happens. Sometimes it feels more like channeling than writing. The experience is illuminating, healing and peaceful. An unexpected insight often arrives just when you need it.

Our job as poets and writers goes even further: we bear witness, we give voice to the voiceless, and we observe and commemorate.

English Poet Myra Schneider at her 80th Birthday celebration and the launch of her 12th collection

Myra Schneider said in an interview HERE, that “I believe the role of the poet is to reflect on human experience and the world we live in and to articulate it for oneself and others. Many people who suffer a loss or go through a trauma feel a need for poetry to give voice to their grief and to support them through a difficult time. When an atrocity is committed poems are a potent way of expressing shock and anger, also of bearing witness. I think that the poet can write forcefully, using a different approach from a journalist, about subjects such as climate change, violence, abuse and mental illness and that this is meaningful to others. I very much believe too that poetry is a way of celebrating life. I think it deserves a central place in our world.”

So, as we celebrate poetry this month, be sure to give yourself time to read and write … for the sake of your spirit and for the rest of us too.

Please join us at The BeZine on April 15th for our special interNational poetry issue. Michael Dickel is the lead editor.

© Each of the personal photographs belongs to the poet pictured, all rights reserved.

softly speaking … and other poems by readers

LAST WEDNESDAY’S WRITING PROMPT: When people can’t speak-up and speak-out, they can give “voice” to their frustrations in odd ways. What kinds of strange rebellions have you observed? Tell us about that experience in poem or prose.


. softly speaking .

no need to talk, there is no one here.

no need to shout, we have no anger.

those were the early days, younger,

filled with grit and useless sentiments.

now we mindfully watch, envy old fabrics,

hear the sounds of another time, know

this is entertainment, a soothing way

to live now.

she said i looked sad,

perhaps i am.

i have a sense of wellbeing.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher


***PEBBLES IN SAND***

She walked down a solitary path
left behind her mistakes made
like pebbles in sand dissolving

she drove a car into the night
along a desert highway

until all she could see were stars
twinkling jewels of light

she plucked pearls of wisdom
caught upon her hand from the wind

no one would miss her absence
life would resume without stopping
her choices a dissipating mist

this as she stood outside a house
realizing another day beginning

her children broke the silence
calling

© 2017, Renee Espiru


Not good

wi words
she hugs him.
He shrugs her off.

She shows him
a lot of thigh
and her breasts.

“tha boring”
she tells him
leanin’
strokin’ his leg.

“Got thee ‘ed
in chuffin books
all the bleeding time.”

“‘Ow do I look?”
she says.

He shrugs.

© 2017, Paul Brookes


WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT, March 22: What would be your fantasy about the moon? Tells us in poem or prose and share the link to the piece in the comments section below if you are comfortable doing so that we all might read it. This is light one. Enjoy!

Invitation to Daring

Flimsy silver ladder
Dropping across the velvet black
Invitation to daring.
Climb to the silvery sand
Dazzling dunes
Dark gorges.
No moon shines above
The light shines from within.
In that gentle light
Fair beings dwell
Runaways from earth.

© 2017, Sarmishtha Basu (Sharmishtha has sixteen beautiful sites, all illustrated with her charming paintings.  Visit her Gravatar page to link to Sharmishtha’s blogs.)


WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT, March 29: How do you generally receive the night? With joy, reluctance or fear? Do you sleep well or not? Tell us in poem or prose.

This is the first time we’re featuring a poem by Colin Blundell so an introduction is in order.  Colin has what is probably the most eclectic blog I’ve encountered over the years. A former teacher, Colin says he escaped the daily humdrum of employment in 1999. I believe he was a teacher and quite a devoted one at that, but self-employment does offer its own special joy.

Colin now facilitates workshops on Neurolinguistic Programing, change management, problem-solving, time management in addition to Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. He also gardens, writes, paints, and composes music. He  makes hand-bound books and goes on long solo motorcycle trips. Colin Blundell doesn’t give in to the sound-bite world of the blogospher and entertainment news.  His posts are long, luxurious reads with marvelous detail that betrays an acute mind and sense of irony.

Two haiku…

full moon
through a slatted blind
cuts me into white strips

*

midnight:
the moon’s chimneypot
on the back lawn

© 2017, Colin Bludell


Juli is also new here. She’s a U.K. poet, Juli (Juxtaposed, Subject to Change) and she responded to the April 3 post – The Spoon Theory or How To Continue to Be Happily Artful Despite Chronic, Catastrophic and/or Life-threatening Illness – with this treasure of a poem.

Juli says, “We are as cosmic prisms, reflecting, connecting, with infinite vibrations that shake the physical and consume the spiritual. Intense awareness is ours – experience is sharp. We are our teachers and our pupils: scholars of the wisdom well; plunging into Truth and emerging as fountains, sprinkling little drops of consequence and potential.

“Thought, made manifest…

Spoons

When I wake to the day
And straight away
Feel bereft for the theft
Of my spoons in the night,
I must reset my pace
For the hours I face
And the fact I don’t keep
All my spoons in one place,
Is what lessens my plight
Though the day’s still a fight
And I grieve at the waste
Unless I stop pretending,
Surrender to fate and
Just focus on mending
And wait.

When I wake up renewed,
With all spoons am imbued,
I feel hope that I’ll cope
With the basics, at least –
Unless there’s a treat
Or appointment to keep.
I will try for an even keel
Mostly, unless I feel
Daring – spoons sparing.
And, if I succeed –
Which means no extra need –
I retire to bed with
A positive head.

My spoons are my wealth
For my life is defined
By the soundness of health
In my body and mind.
It is measured and treasured by
One simple goal:
That of having control
Just as much as I’m able,
But, oh! For a ladle
To hold in reserve that
Makes up for how much
I rely on my nerves.

© 2017, Juli

Thanks and kudos to these adventurous souls who participated in Wednesday Writing Prompt challenges. They are not only devoted artists. They’re fine people with good values. I do hope you’ll visit their blogs, explore their work, and get to know them better. The next writing prompt will post tomorrow and responses will be featured here next Tuesday.  


We continue today with the current recommended read: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. Left, right or center – American or not – it’s a must read.

LESSON SIX Be wary of paramilitaries.  “When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching with torches and pictures of a leader, the end is nigh.  When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.” Prof. Snyder, On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

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SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Contests, Events and other News and Information

CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS

Opportunity Knocks

THE BeZINE will accept submissions until April 10 midnight PST of poetry or essays on poetry for our interNational Poetry Month issue.  Submissions to bardogroup@gmail.com Pub date is April 15th.  Mission statement HERE.  Submission Guidelines HERE.

URBAN FARMHOUSE PRESS is now seeking book-length manuscripts.  General guidelines: Crossroads Poetry Series: minimum 50-60 pages of poetry; Fiction: minimum 150 pages of prose: Novellas: 60-145 pages of prose; Cities of the Straits Chapbook Series: 20-40 pages of poetry or fiction. Submissions open from April to August annually. Details HERE.

BIRDS PILED LOOSELY PRESS magazine is published three-times a year and the editors are interested in plays, sestinas, sonnets, short-stories, creative nonfiction, “hybrid word vomit,” etc. and “we welcome work from all genres.” This press also publishes three chapbooks a year.  Details HERE

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN, an anthology on parenting and mental illness seeks nonfiction: essay, memoir, or creative hybrid. “It doesn’t have to be in first person, but it needs to be personal and true.” Submission from April 1 – August 1 2017. Details HERE.

WRAPAROUND SOUTH seeks submissions of poems, fiction, creative nonfiction, mixed genre works, and interviews that are previously unpublished literary works between September 1st through November 20th for our Fall/Winter issue, and between February 1st to April 20th for our Spring/Summer issueDetails HEREThere is a processing fee of $2.50 on all submissions.

HIPPOCAMPUS MAGAZINE is a monthly magazine that accepts submission of memoir excerpts, personal essay and flash creative nonfiction. Articles by assignment only. $45 dollar honorarium or accepted work sixty days after publication. Processing fee of $3. Details HEREThis press also publishes books. Details HERE.

ARTEMISpoetry is published twice yearly by Second Light Network of Women Poets (based in London). Poems by women of any age may be submitted now for Issue 19. Deadlines:  Poetry by 31st August 2017; Artwork by 14th September 2017. Details HERE.

HAUNTED WATERS PRESS “is the annual literary journal of Haunted Waters Press. Featuring works of prose and poetry, the journal is released in both print and digital formats in the fall of each year. Described as “one of the most compelling and beautifully illustrated literary journals,” From the Depths was created to showcase and celebrate the writing of new, emerging, and established authors. We offer contributors several paths to publication.” Reading periods vary. Calendar and other details HERE.


CONTESTS

Opportunity Knocks

The PEN Center USA Literary Awards, Calls for Submissions:”… is accepting teleplays by writers living west of the Mississippi River. Entries are reviewed and judged by panels of distinguished writers, critics, and editors. Winners will be announced in the late summer of 2017. Each winner receives a $1,000 cash prize, a one-year membership to PEN Center USA, and two tickets to the Literary Awards Festival in the fall of 2017.” Further Details HERE.

HIPPOCAMPUS MAGAZINE CREATIVE NONFICTION AWARD $1,200: Memoir excerpts and personal essays up to 4,000 words; August 31, 2017 deadline; $12 entry fee.  Details HERE.

THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS has deadlines coming up on three contests:

  • $5,000 Miller Poetry Prize deadline is September 30, 2017.  The judge is Billy Collins and the entry fee is $28.  This is for collections. Further details HERE.
  • 2018 $1,000 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize for a second book of poetry in English by a writer of Arab heritage.  “Since its founding in 1996 the Radius of Arab American Writers has celebrated and fostered the writings and writers that make up the vibrant and diverse Arab American community; and the University of Arkansas Press has long been committed to publishing diverse kinds of poetry by a diversity of poets. The series editors are Hayan Charara and Fady Joudah, and the prize is named in honor of the world-renowned poet, novelist, essayist, and artist Etel Adnan.”  $25 entry fee. Hayan Charara and Fady Joudah are judges and the series’ editors. Further detail HERE. April 15, 2017 is the dealine to be considered for the 2018 prize.
  • 2018 $1,000 CantoMundo Poetry Prize for “a book of poetry by a Latina/o writer. Since its founding in 2009, CantoMundo has cultivated and supported a community of Latina/o poets and the poetry they create, and the University of Arkansas Press has long been committed to publishing diverse kinds of poetry by a diversity of poets.” Deborah Paredez and Celeste Gúzman Mendoza are the judges and the series’ editors. $28 entry free. Further detail HERE. April 15, 2017 is the deadline to be considered for the 2018 prize.

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK OF WOMEN POETS 2017 (Demographic restrictions) Short and Long Poem competion is open JUDGE MYRA SCHNEIDER will read all entries. Myra Schneider’s latest and recent books are Persephone in Finsbury Park (SLP), The Door to Colour (Enitharmon); What Women Want (SLP); and the writing resource, Writing Your Self (with John Killick). Deadline Tuesday, 15 August.

  • £300 First Prize for each of Long (no upper limit) and Short (max 50 lines) poems
  •  £150 Second Prize (1 poem from either category)
  • £75 Third Prize (1 poem from either category)
  • Winning & Commended Poets published (in full or extract) in ARTEMISpoetry
  • Winners offered a London reading.

Entry: £6 each per long poem. Short poems: £4 each or £9 for 3, £14 for 8. Enter by post (2 copies) or online.
**Members are entitled to one free entry into the competition. Join now to be eligible.** (see About Second Light/Joining)
more: Rules & Entry        direct link to payment at poetry p f online shop note: payment link in competition flyer ends ‘s l(el) 5’, not ‘s 1(one) 5‚. The results will be posted on the website by 30th September.


EVENTS

  • TONIGHT! Austin Writers’ Roulette, Sunday April 9, 4-6 p.m. CDT, Malvern Books, 213 W@ 29th St. Austin, TX,  Austin Writers Roulette is an uncensored, theme-inspired spoken word and storytelling event. It features a different monthly theme and line up of artists who perform their original written works such as poetry, essays, spoken word, singer-songwriting, or excerpts from novels for 5-8 minutes (1200 words or fewer). Interested artists who would like to perform for an upcoming event can email their submission to mathdreads@yahoo.com. Or you can show up during the day of the event and sign up for the open mic after all the featured artists perform. And of course, performance art lovers are always welcome! This month’s theme is “Pretense Is Underrated.” Our featured artists include: DONNA DECHEN BIRDWELL, JUSTIN BOOTH, TERESA Y. ROBERSON, & THOM THE WORLD POET. Visit the Austin Writers Roulette website for more information:http://austinwritersroulette.com/
  • TONIGHT! Bus Boys and Poets, Jazz & Verse Open Mic, Tacoma, Washington, every second Sunday, cap off brunch with two hours of incredible music and poetry! Audiences can expect a diverse array of spoken word performers, open mic rookies, musicians and more with a Jazz soundtrack! It will feature the sounds of a professional Jazz Band to groove us into the night. All are welcomed to perform, or enjoy a night of Jazz & Verse! Time, Place and other Details HERE.
  • HIPPOCAMP 2017 A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers, September 8-10, 2017, Lancaster, PA  Early Bird Registration: $379.00 Regular registration: $419.00  Details HERE.
  • Reginald Gibbons & Angela Jackson, Thursday, April 20, 7 pm Poetry Foundation,  61 West Superior Street, Chicago.
    Free admission. Details HERE.

NEWS & INFORMATION

The recommended read: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. Left, right or center – American or not – it’s a must read.

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ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

THE ELEPHANTQUAKE and other poems by readers …

Much to my delight there are seven poetic responses this week. Bravo, my friends! Five of the poems are responses to last Wednesday’s Writing Prompt:

“How do you generally receive the night? With joy, reluctance or fear? Do you sleep well or not? Tell us in poem or prose. If you would feel comfortable doing so, please put a link to your response in the comments section below – or, if the work is short enough – just include it there that we might all enjoy it. Responses to Wednesday Writing Prompts are published here on the following Tuesday.”


I was introduced to the multitalented (poetry, art and asemic writing) Sonja Benskin Mesher when I featured Rueben Woolley and his work.  Sonja designed the covers for his collections.  I’ve been enamoured ever since.  Sonja says, ” I have worked full time as a visual artist since 1999, and have spent those years exploring ways to communicate thoughts and concerns with my paintings and drawings. It’s not all you see on the surface, it goes deeper than that. The work goes back touched and collected. My present surroundings, here in Wales, and that of Cornwall where I spend much of my time, inform the work, and inspire the subject matter. Then with the work I remember, and try to make sense of it all.”

. vanta black .

‘ is dark at night, i lay here looking’

yes

‘ not totally black though,

i like the greys and shadow.

i like when the cars go by,

the lights go across the walls’

yes

‘ i do not think i will like very black,

not vantablack like anish kapoor’

said the bear quietly.

it is alright to say so.

© Sonja Benskin Mesher


I think Sharmishtha Basu – artist, poet and writer – has been blogging as long as I have, which would mean since 2008.  I’ve watched her grow her talent and expand her art and writing world into a small industry.  She illustrates her own poems, has sixteen blogs and self-publishes on Amazon.  From the tentative writer she was initially, she has grown strong and confident as a result of hard persistent work.  Visit Sharmishtha’s Gravatar Profile for links to her blogs.

PEACEFUL IS YOUR PRESENCE

Peaceful is your presence
Like losing oneself
In embrace of peace itself
Losing self awareness
for some certain moments
Turning away from worries
Frictions and tensions
That won’t leave wakeful mind.
Who says you invoke only
Fear, terror and darkness.

© Sharmishtha Basu


Renee Espiru (Just Turtle Flight) writes poetry and short stories and is adept at digital art, producing interesting illustrations to accompany her poetry.  She says she’s been writing from a young age and that her  ” writing is based on my life’s experience and my observation of life. I have been asked the question of where I come by my ideas … and have come to the conclusion that without life observed there would be nothing on which to base any writing at all.”  Over the years, I’ve always appreciated Renee’s willingness to take on any writing challenge thrown at her. Renee’s work is often featured in The BeZine.

A SIPHON FOR DREAMS

The night is a siphon for dreams
drifting thru stars & moonbeams

nudging in its’ turn each muse
igniting imaginations’ fuse

visiting angels night’s shadows
a lighting of a candles’ tallow

© March 2017 Renee Espriu


Gary W. Bowers (One With Clay, Image and Text) was born in California and lives now in Arizona. He is a poet and artist with a quick wit and a unique and engaging style. Gary’s creative specialties are acrostic poetry, portraiture, ceramic sculpture, Ticonderoga Black pencil drawing and, most recently, mixed media that includes oil pastel. Check out his blog. Inquiries about purchase of posted artwork, or commission of custom work including but certainly not limited to acrostic portraiture, may be made via e-mail to onewithclay@hotmail.com.  HERE is the artwork that Gary did for me.

nightie night

shutter lids o halfanearth
shadow has your number.
cue the creatures oer your girth
batten down n slumber.
slow the breathing ebb the sway
as the starscapes twinkle
and the dreams come out to play
and the brows unwrinkle.

© Gary Bowers

Gary’s poem in response to my baseball season kick-off with a poem – Line Up for Yesterday – by Ogden Nash.

Though life has its hashes
And reasons to grieve,
It gave us two Nashes:
One Ogden, one Steve.

(Steve Nash, one of the most brilliant of basketball’s Phoenix Suns, was the hardest-working player in the NBA, back in the day.)

© Gary Bowers


Paul Brooks’ blog (The Wombwell Rainbow) is subtitled “Inspiration. History. Imagination.” All true. Check it out.  I find his imagination charming and it’s something you can appreciate given his poem shared here today. Paul’s newest collection, The Spermbot Blues, his second chapbook is tentatively to be published by OpPRESS this Spring. Announcement pending. We’ll let you know.

THE ELEPHANTQUAKE

Elephantquake bossed a vast forest.
no rain, all lakes, tanks, ponds,
water holes arid. It thirsts
It searched for water.

It knows of a hidden lake
always full and goes there
to save itself. After five nights
it revelled and splashed in the lake.

Daily it marched upon moonhares,
maimed and wounded them,
on its route to the lake.

One day moonhares met
to save themselves
from the elephantquake
Some said “Abandon this place.”

Others “It’s our ancient home.
Let’s find an alternative.
Let’s see if we can scare off
rampage of elephantquake.”

Some of them said, “We know
of a trick that works
with elephantquake.
we need a sharp person.

A moonhare has a message
for elephantquake. It says
“I come from Moon who doesn’t
want you supping lake as bound

there you kills and maim hundreds
of hares. Lake is forbidden.
Return to your forest home.
“But where’s this Moon, your home? asks

elephantquake “In this lake.
It consoles the survivors
of your rampage.” “Then, let me see him,” requests the elephantquake.

“Come alone with me, I will
show you.” Moonhare takes it one
night to shows Moon’s silvery
reflection in the lake, says

“Here it is, my home, the Moon.
Lost in meditation.
Move quietly, salute it.
Don’t disturb it and bring wrath.”

Elephantquake sees it as real,
salutes it, leaves quietly,
returns to its forest home.
Hares heave sigh in relief.

© Paul Brooks


U.K. poet, Juli (Juxtaposed, Subject to Change), responded to The Spoon Theory or How To Continue to Be Happily Artful Despite Chronic, Catastrophic and/or Life-threatening Illness with this treasure.

Spoons

When I wake to the day
And straight away
Feel bereft for the theft
Of my spoons in the night,
I must reset my pace
For the hours I face
And the fact I don’t keep
All my spoons in one place,
Is what lessens my plight
Though the day’s still a fight
And I grieve at the waste
Unless I stop pretending,
Surrender to fate and
Just focus on mending
And wait.

When I wake up renewed,
With all spoons am imbued,
I feel hope that I’ll cope
With the basics, at least –
Unless there’s a treat
Or appointment to keep.
I will try for an even keel
Mostly, unless I feel
Daring – spoons sparing.
And, if I succeed –
Which means no extra need –
I retire to bed with
A positive head.

My spoons are my wealth
For my life is defined
By the soundness of health
In my body and mind.
It is measured and treasured by
One simple goal:
That of having control
Just as much as I’m able,
But, oh! For a ladle
To hold in reserve that
Makes up for how much
I rely on my nerves.

© Juli 


“In politics being deceived is no excuse.” Leszak Kolakowski

Recommended read: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. Left, right or center – American or not – it’s a must read for our chaotic times … and not just the list of lessons but Prof. Snyder’s commentary on each. This book is a rational enlightening little gem and a powerful wake-up call.

Lesson Two: “Defend Institutions. It is institutions that help us preserve decency. They need our help as well. Do not speak of ‘our institutions’ unless you make them yours by action on their behalf. Institutions do not protect themselves. They fall one after the other unless each is defended from the beginning. So choose an institution you care about – a court, a newspaper, a law, a labor union – and take its side.” Prof. Snyder

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