Hello, Reader. Happy Friday, Happy “ski week” — which is the week of no school in February when many people in the P-town apparently go skiing (?) and we go to the library. Severally.
There are five children in this house as I write this. One is on rollerblades, two are on walkie-talkies, one is making crepes (I’m basically speechless about this). The other must be…. somewhere.
One of the things that makes me happy about this world are its juxtapositions. A teenager and a stove; crepes and rollerblades; an adorable three year-old and his existential questions (“Aunt Molly, what do you DO wid all dose pens?”).
As you can imagine, my poetry life this week has been high on catch-as-catch-can and low on coherent thoughts. This roundup will be short and perhaps incoherent.
love that dog What!!?? I know, I was surprised, too, when I found a little book at the library yesterday (4th trip of the week) called Love That Dog. Anyone who teaches poetry to children might want to take a look at this little book, which is a (very short) novel in verse about a boy whose approach to writing poetry goes from “I don’t want to / because boys / don’t write poetry. // Girls do…” to “Love that dog / like a bird loves to fly… .”
It’s both hilarious and heartening, as the boy expresses in his own writing his befuddlement with poetry (“I don’t understand / the poem about / the red wheelbarrow”; “What was up with / the snowy woods poem / you read today?”) and slowly, over the course of the story, begins to write his own singing lines and to fall in love with poetry.
on persona poetry Last week I wrote a paper on considerations for persona poetry. In the course of my study, I found this article which looks at the tradition and craft persona poetry. You need to have a membership in AWP to access the full article, but here are a couple of my notes from it.
On why we might write in persona:
“The use of a character voice can provide an escape from our biographies, as we write in the voice of someone else. At the same time, the use of a character voice can allow us to go deeper into feelings and ideas associated with our biographies, since it provides a kind of insulation.”
On what the author calls “modulation” (which is a trait of my favorite persona poems, but of course I didn’t realize that until this article articulated it for me):
“(T)he voice of a dramatic monologue also often modulates. In this case, away from character, toward the poet’s actual voice – in order to let us feel the human stakes behind the mask.”
The article is by Benjamin S. Grossman and is worth your time if you’re interested in writing in persona.
fishing The thing about poets is you keep finding more of them. I can’t remember where or how, but a week or so ago I found Talvikki Ansel. The semi-secret super library nerd lending program came through for me once again, and I’ve been reading her first book My Shining Archipelago. I’m particularly fond of her poem “Fishing” and I found it for you on Google books — I hope the link will work. Here it is (you may have to scroll down a bit to find page 14).
“I have tried so many times to take / this photograph: white door frame, / view beyond: green strip of lawn, / sea wall, clouds above breakers, / but I can never focus the inside / and the outside, the kitchen / darkens and the cedars blur.”
Me too, Talkvikki Anselm, me too.
No children were harmed in the writing of this blog post. Amen.