Publication and performance are the twin pillars of the poetry world. Personally, I’m a fan of crossovers, but I dig reading written poems and I love hearing performance poetry — slam, hip-hop, open mike. Or the Gourd Circle — a gathering of friends for dinner and several rounds of telling stories, poetry & song.
But poetry can be more than just outreach to an audience. For some, it is valuable personal practice. Valerie Haugen of Glenwood Springs falls in love with a new poet a day. Lorine Niedecker. Amy Lowell. Gerard Manley Hopkins. Their words, insights and stylistic breakthroughs inform her poetry. Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville has made a lyric practice of writing a poem a day. After going on three years of this, she’s become a master of capturing language and experience. Both great personal practices. And both poets take advantage of the Web’s blogosphere to “publish” their work and explorations.
Another bright exploratory star flames out … Gregory Greyhawk was one of those giant souls, huge-hearted, a string of his own hockey teeth pearled around his neck. Brilliant, erratic. I loved being around him. Anything could happen, and sometimes did … I just ordered his book, “Wailing Heaven, Whistling in Hell” (Howling Dog Press, Berthoud, Colorado, 1996) … Gonna miss the wrap of his big arm as we caromed down a Denver sidewalk, and the wild grin of his gap-toothed smile. — Art Goodtimes, Cloud Acre
Remembering Karen Chamberlain
lanky stalk of grass
singing in the autumn wind
your voice packed with seeds
— Carol Bell
My dad, who never blows his cool
the day i left for Vietnam
sat down to a stack of homemade buttermilk pancakes
and poured vinegar on them, by mistake.
— Dennis Fritzinger
Earth First! Journal editor
As for us, yes, the young still go to war,
And wars continue at the speed of darkness,
Not the world wars you expected, but the others,
Wars of despisals in our countries, in our cities, in other countries and cities.
Promises and solidarity collapsed, and in the confusion
justice circles this sweating planet, looking for somewhere to land.
— Jackie St. Joan
Excerpt from “Letter to Muriel Rukeyser at the End of the 20th Century”
…jaguar has moved into the bedroom
meadowlarks are nesting in the corner
sunfish swim in the water glass on the nightstand
black widow makes a web in your shoe
the bed is a jungle
and it’s raining emeralds
— Galaxy Dancer
While Considering Demolition
I ask my teacher
She says, Notice them.
What’s on the other side?
She says, You are.
— Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer