THIRTY-SEVEN CENTS
Vol. 6, No. 11      An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society    November  2007

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       c) FreeFoto.com

NOVEMBERISH IN THE SOUL

There is something about November that has down through the ages evoked from writers in the northern hemisphere a tendency to look at the dark aspects of life,  As the end of each calendar year draws near, writers turn their eyes inward to look at and sing of melancholy or sadness that touches them.  Although they remember the joys of sledding and skating of winters past when they were children or young people, now that they have reached adulthood, many "snowbirds" go south literally or at least imaginatively.    How quickly the beauty of October fades and sinking temperatures are matched by the falling spirit of writers!  Nathaniel Hawthorne once described this despair for him as that of being "Novemberish in the soul."  There is, of course, the challenge to face head-on this condition and steel ourselves to make poetic capital of Novemberishness. After all, one can always concentrate on Thanksgiving feasts or shop early for Christmas, but why not try to address a part of your life not usually covered in your poems.  Try something gloomy or at least unhappy.  My tendency is to look on the bright side of everything, but in doing so, I miss much material available to me.  Now I will try, at least once, to deal with the dark around me.  Why don't you try also?  If we fail to confront the Darth Vaders of the world around us, we can always tack on a happy Hollywood ending in the last stanza.        --  Tom Padgett

CONTENTS:

Past
Issue Next
       
Poems by Members
         
Workshop

Missouri State Poetry Society



Winter Contest

Spare Mule Online

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
 
Strophes Online
 


POETRY IN THE NEWS

Lucille Clifton of Columbia, Maryland, recently received the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize of $100,000.  The annual prize established in 1986 is given to a U.S. poet in recognition of lifetime achievement.  The judges were Linda Bierds, W. S. Di Piero, and Christian Wiman.  For more information about Clifton, see Poet of the Month below.

Charles Simic is our nation's new poet laureate to succeed Donald Hall.   Simic's work is problematical since much of it is surrealism.  However, he has some poems everyone can appreciate.  The Week magazine for August 17, 2007, reprinted his short poem "Watermelons."  Here is the complete poem: "Green Buddhas / On the Fruitstand / We eat the smile / And spit out the teeth." 

John Ashbery has been named MtvU's poet laureate.  This is an exclusive network designed for college students.  Ashbery, who is 80 years old,  was a surprising winner.  His early poetry was very difficult to understand; now it is more accessible.  Read the New York Times story at
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/27/books/27laur.html?ei=5089&en=06649c5a9c6f6554&ex=1345867200&partner=rssyahoo&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

Lev Grossman in the June 18, 2007, issue of TIME discusses the $200 million gift of Ruth Lilly to Poetry magazine.  Grossman asks if this huge gift can revive a "dying art."  Read Grossman's article at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1630571,00.html

Click Back on your toolbar to return here after finishing a news item.
 

HAVE YOU VISITED THE WORKSHOP LATELY?
Click Workshop and do some of the lessons there.
If you have an idea for a new lesson, send it along. 

HAVE YOU READ YOUR ONLINE NEWSLETTERS?
Read Spare Mule Online and Strophes Online available by clicking the underlined titles.

HAVE YOU ENTERED A MSPS CONTEST RECENTLY?
Our state president is encouraging us to enter the MSPS
Winter Contest.

HAVE YOU SEEN THE BULLETIN BOARD LATELY? 
Visit our MSPS Bulletin Board for news of events and contests in our area.

 

AMERICAN LIFE IN POETRY

Ted Kooser, current U. S. Poet Laureate, in response to an interviewer for National Public Radio, stated that his "project" as laureate was to establish a weekly column featuring contemporary American poems supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska.  This column appears in on-line publications (such as Thirty-Seven Cents) as well as hard-copy newspapers.  Poets are asked to contact their local newspapers to inform them that such a column is available free to them and to relieve the editor by explaining that all of the poems that will appear week by week are accessible, not obscure poems. 

American Life in Poetry: Column 131
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

Sometimes beginning writers tell me they get discouraged because it seems that everything has already been written about. But every experience, however commonplace, is unique to he or she who seizes it. There have undoubtedly been many poems about how dandelions pass from yellow to wind-borne gossamer, but this one by the Maryland poet, Jean Nordhaus, offers an experience that was unique to her and is a gift to us.

A DANDELION FOR MY MOTHER
Jean Nordhaus

How I loved those spiky suns,
rooted stubborn as childhood
in the grass, tough as the farmer's
big-headed children--the mats
of yellow hair, the bowl-cut fringe.
How sturdy they were and how
slowly they turned themselves
into galaxies, domes of ghost stars
barely visible by day, pale
cerebrums clinging to life
on tough green stems. Like you.
Like you, in the end. If you were here,
I'd pluck this trembling globe to show
how beautiful a thing can be
a breath will tear away.





American Life in Poetry: Column 133
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006


It may be that we are most alone when attending funerals, at least that's how it seems to me. By alone I mean that even among throngs of mourners we pull back within ourselves and peer out at life as if through a window. David Baker, an Ohio poet, offers us a picture of a funeral that could be anybody's.

AFTERWARDS
David Baker

    A short ride in the van, then the eight of us
 there in the heat--white shirtsleeves sticking,
the women's gloves off--fanning our faces.
  The workers had set up a big blue tent

    to help us at graveside tolerate the sun,
 which was brutal all afternoon as if
stationed above us, though it moved limb
  to limb through two huge, covering elms.

    The long processional of neighbors, friends,
 the town's elderly, her beauty-shop patrons,
her club's notables. . . The world is full of
  prayers arrived at from afterwards, he said.

    Look up through the trees--the hands, the leaves
 curled as in self-control or quietly hurting,
or now open, flat-palmed, many-fine-veined,
  and whether from heat or sadness, waving.
 

American Life in Poetry: Column 132
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006



Children at play give personalities to lifeless objects, and we don't need to give up that pleasure as we grow older.  Poets are good at discerning life within what otherwise might seem lifeless.  Here the poet Peter Pereira, a family physician in the Seattle area, contemplates a smiling statue, and in that moment of contemplation the smile is given by the statue to the man.

THE GARDEN BUDDHA
Peter Pereira


Gift of a friend, the stone Buddha sits zazen,
prayer beads clutched in his chubby fingers.
Through snow, icy rain, the riot of spring flowers,
he gazes forward to the city in the distance--always

the same bountiful smile upon his portly face.
Why don't I share his one-minded happiness?
The pear blossom, the crimson-petaled magnolia,
filling me instead with a mixture of nostalgia

and yearning. He's laughing at me, isn't he?
The seasons wheeling despite my photographs
and notes, my desire to make them pause.
Is that the lesson? That stasis, this holding on,

is not life? Now I'm smiling, too--the late cherry,
its soft pink blossoms already beginning to scatter;
the trillium, its three-petaled white flowers
exquisitely tinged with purple as they fall.



American Life in Poetry: Column 134
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

When ancient people gathered around the fire at nightfall, I like to think that they told stories, about where each of them had been that day, and what that person had seen in the forest. Those were among our first stories, and we still venture into the world and return to tell others what happened. It's part of community. Here Kathleen Flenniken of Washington tells us about a woman she saw at an airport.


OLD WOMAN WITH PROTEA FLOWERES, KAHALUI AIRPORT
Kathleen Flenniken


She wears the run-down slippers of a local
and in her arms, five rare protea
wrapped in newsprint, big as digger pine cones.
Our hands can't help it and she lets us touch.
Her brother grows them for her, upcountry.
She's spending the day on Oahu
with her flowers and her dogs. Protea
for four dogs' graves, two for her favorite.
She'll sit with him into the afternoon
and watch the ocean from Koolau.
An old woman's paradise, she tells us,
and pets the flowers' soft, pink ears.


POET OF THE MONTH: LUCILLE CLIFTON

For a brief bio of Clifton and five of her poems, go to http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/79.

For an encyclopedia article on Clifton, visit  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucille_Clifton

For thirty-four poems by Clifton, see http://www.poemhunter.com/lucille-clifton/.

For critics' comments on some of Clifton's poems, visit http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/a_f/clifton/clifton.htm.

For a Lucille Clifton page, see http://www.math.buffalo.edu/~sww/clifton/clifton.htm


POEMS BY MEMBERS

SALUTATIONS
Pat Durmon

Driving at daybreak
we pulled up and onto the pavement
of Push Mountain Road.
We headed northeast toward
Matney Knob to begin the long ride.

As we approached Zimmerman Peak,
we saw a man, up high, standing
on a ledge, staring at the eastern sky
drinking the rising dawn. He stood
straight-backed with coffee cup in hand.

My husband slowed the car
to wave his full hand and greet
the nobleman of this rock-ribbed
mountaintop. Mr. Zimmerman,
twenty years older than he, answered
by lifting his mug high in salute
as we passed.

Ahead, the road hugged the Knob.
A crimson sky streaked with peach
burst upward, like a flower unfolding,
then we abruptly curved back north.
My husband saw a man
welcoming the day and life. I thought
I saw one gentle man toast
and bless another.
 

CARPENTRY: ANOTHER FORGOTTEN ART
Harding Stedler

Hammers lie
where we left them
a week ago today.
And boxes of nails
remain unopened,
resting on stacks of 2 X 4's.
Everything we need
to build walls
we have, except for a carpenter.
Carpenters seem to be
in short supply this season.
In the seven days we've waited,
not one has passed our way.

Walls do not build themselves,
nor do nails
hammer themselves through drywall
into studs.
Likewise, thumbs are not split
without someone to wield a hammer.
And until there are walls,
there is no need for murals.


CHANGE PASSED BY ITSELF
Jeanetta Chrystie

Change passed by itself
Comings
Goings
And somehow knew its opposite
was Death
We are ever being born
Growing
Changing
And the thrill of choosing
is Life
Unbidden, we discover life
Choosing
Changing
Changes
Choosing
Until
the final change.
 

OVERHEAD SHADOW
A tanka
Pat Laster

overhead shadow--
crows unusually vocal
this mid-November
   do they know it's getting cold?
   does he know my ardor's cooled?
 

HAIKU
Steven Penticuff

Sneakers, still thirsty,
ska-wishing for a puddle
the size of Vermont
 

HAIKU
Valerie Esker

finally the sun
sinks below the horizon
but strange light remains
 

SCANDINAVIAN MEDITATION
Tom Padgett

Gray day, sad music, November in my soul--
a hint of snow, a hurting theme,
and throbbing thoughts of squandered time.

Leafless trees sully carpets dried of life,
strings and woodwinds struggle toward accord,
the self in grief mulls on prescribed enjoinments.

Belated sun turns clouds of steel to dove,
a flute consents to trill a note of peace,
a dream shakes loose and starts with hope.

In bare trees a late breeze tries a game,
through gloom a cello forges room for clarinets,
a small resolve affirms a faith in spring.

 

 


JUST PASSING THROUGH MUNICH
Tania Gray

The terminal was clean and bright,
bilingual signs were clear all right,
officials there were crisp and cold--
they ran efficiencyís stronghold
so well we thought weíd get frostbite.

We had two hours to our next flight.
We shared a sandwich, drank some Sprite,
we hoped weíd not again behold
             the terminal.

Some guards in pairs of even height
walked circuits brisk and robot-like
past shops where duty-free was sold:
some Euro leather, scent, and gold.
We sure were glad to disunite
            the terminal.


THE SUPREME BEING
Jean Even

In your tent, O Lord, I sing to You,
For blessings given in life unto me.
Glory, O holiness, in
Zion on high,
Life is for the living who believe in You. 

Place that vast hope within me, O Lord,
As I sing with exalted joy for You.
You are the supreme being who delivers;
Iíll live forever in Your kingdom, O Lord.


MY COMPUTER
Jennifer Smith
(With apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson and Dr. Seuss)

I have a little computer
It sits on my desk with me.
But what can be the use of it
Is more than I can see . . . sometimes.

It has a blinking thingamajig
(Iím told itís called a cursor)
Somedays methinks that Iím the curse
When I want to call it something worser.

Somedays itís awful slow
To get where I want to go.
Other days itís so nice to me
A good helper, a real Girl Friday. 

I like it when it auto saves
And corrects my spelling woes
Or does the number crunching
And keeps me on my toes.

I like to keep in touch with folks
Through e-mail on the Ďnet.
Oh the places the web can take you
A wonderful world, and yetÖ

I think I have it figured out
The íputer is like the girl
The one who on her forehead had
The cutest little curl. 

When my computer is good
Itís very good, you see.
However when itís bad
Itís H-O-double R-I-D


CONTINUUM
Laurence W. Thomas

I know this morning
because Iíve known
such mornings before
each much alike
and only remarkable
because one has flowers
another snow or rain
or bad news.
Yesterday, a fox
playing in my yard
does not mean a fox
will return today
but here I am again
and look!
the yard is still there.


RAIN, COME ON DOWN
Diane Auser Stefan

I welcomed you falling lightly, briefly

early this morning on the chapel roof

and then again as we drove home.

 

Thankfully, your second coming lasted

and kept coming as we crawled back in to bed

and pulled the covers over our heads and slept.

 

Rain, will you wash the oak pollen down and away?

The yellow blanket of it covers every leaf, stone, and road

and makes my eyes water and my nose run miserably.

Yesterday on our walk, Iíd rub my eyes

and Daisy would sneezeó

werenít we the pollinated pair?

 

Rain, please wash us clean.

 

 

 


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