Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Word from the Corner - Marching Band by Brie Carter

The Word from the Corner I'm fresh from the marching band competition yesterday at North Andover High School - 16 HS and 2 college bands played and marched and performed. What a show. I love the smaller bands, but it's the biggest ones with more than 100 band and color guard performers that really amaze. Found a poem that captured one of those times, from the HS student's perspective, from the field. Enjoy. __________________________________________ Marching Band - by Brie Carter As the snare clicks My feet hit the ground Steady with the beat I can't look around To see the large crowd All eyes on us With an audience this size We better not mess up The adrenaline's pumping I'm ready to go We stand at attention Waiting to start the show The drum major counts off And the music starts We sound just fine The beat matches my heart I can smell the night air And the fresh cut grass on the field The best smells in the world To match the weapons we wield Friday night lights Go well with the band As we finish up The audience claps and then stands Mark time mark We march off to our seats My uniform is uncomfortably tight But I must say, our band is pretty sweet _________________________________________

Monday, September 24, 2018

It’s Time for Indigenous Peoples Day (poem)

It’s Time for Indigenous People's Day

First, it’s not true 
that I can only speak in rhyme.
I can’t talk that way on cue, 
and who has the time?
I can only say what I say, 
and for that, I’m not sorry.
Poets only arrange words this way 
when we want to tell a story.

Columbus explored, 
for that he’s rightly known,
But as we’ve learned some more, 
our knowledge has only grown.
In the story we all learned, 
some chapters were left out.
Other people here, they yearned
to be heard, without having to shout.

Columbus changed the world, 
and in our alma maters, 
one thing will never change,
he’ll remain known. 
But as history has unfurled, 
the distance has made things clearer.
As we get farther from that 1492 meeting,
We’re seeing a bigger picture.

That’s why we don’t want the lesson shortchanged – 
We want our kids to learn, to truly understand.

We want our kids to read from all the missing chapters.
We want our kids to heare from every voice, completely.
We want our kids to know that books can have many authors.
We want our kids to hear the story of our entire human family.

If that means we change the name, 
from time to time,
of some of our favorite holidays,
then I believe, if I may claim,
we shall be a little better, 
and in the end, 
I believe, we shall even be, ok.

North Andover Mass., September 2018

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Word from the Corner - Good Bones By Maggie Smith

The Word from the Corner Sometimes it's hard to know whether to go up or down. What is needed. Anyone who loves how words can capture a thought or a moment learns to go with what the moment says, and what is needed. And step out of the way. Sometimes down is up, you know? You gotta laugh sometimes. Or cry. Or both at the same time. Here's one by Maggie Smith that did that for me. Enjoy. I hope. Peace. _____________________________________________ Good Bones By Maggie Smith Life is short, though I keep this from my children. Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways, a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative estimate, though I keep this from my children. For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird. For every loved child, a child broken, bagged, sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world is at least half terrible, and for every kind stranger, there is one who would break you, though I keep this from my children. I am trying to sell them the world. Any decent realtor, walking you through a real shithole, chirps on about good bones: This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful. ____________________________________________ From "The Best American Poetry 2017", edited by Natasha Tretheway and David Lehman. The Best American Poetry 2017 Find more poetry in the North Andover area here:

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Western Canon In Haiku

The Word from the Corner September 16, 2018 A challenge for you this week. At this past Tuesday's Frost "Hoot" at Cafe Azteca, I had some some fun with haiku. I presented my take on the great books: The Western Canon in Haiku. It can be done! Here are some of mine below. Can you come up with some of yours? Email me and I'll post. Rules of this game: - Theme: Great books and ideas of the Western Canon (as expanded in recent decades, thankfully, beyond the "dead white male" authors...and beyond the Western world...) - Loose haiku form - not restricted to the 5-7-5 rule - Try for 3 lines, max of 4, limit to 16 words (try) - Can rhyme or not - Short, punchy Jim Knowles who hosts the Frost Foundation Hoot suggested these tweaks to the form. He reasons: "The Japanese rules on syllables and topics tie into their grammar and pictographics. American English is a multi-lingual festival of thievery.....and mixed metaphor. We need a short form to celebrate that!" Go for it! What can you come up with?

The Western Canon in Haiku

All those books to read
Skip the Latin, skip the Greek
Here is what you need!

Knowledge, truth, beauty!
Here’s the Canon in haiku!
Wisdom! Brevity!

A rhyming haiku!
How many sy-LAHB-els?
Against form, the purists cringe
Haiku – it must follow form!
Even I must twinge

When I don’t say the prayer
In holy five-seven-five,
That sin I must bear

But onward we go,
For the rest won’t be rhyming
Class! Let’s start the show…

The Old Testament
In the beginning
God gave his people a land
Messiah? Still waiting…

The New Testamant
Jesus was made man
He walked on water, died, rose
Paul made the franchise

Homer’s Odyssey
Odysseus sails
Ten years pass, mom has suitors!
He’s back! Tragedy!

Divine Comedy by Dante
Dante circles hell
Not much of a comedy –
It’s a hell of a world!

The Works of William Shakespeare
Will wrote sonnets, plays –
comedies and tragedies –
yes, Will wrote them all

The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Orphan boy, cruel world
Please, sir, may I have some more?
Says Bumble: No more!

Walt Whitman
He wrote “Leaves of Grass”
He’s America’s poet
We don’t read poetry

Emily Dickinson
More than nobody
She would not stop for death
But I stop for her

Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
Sad anna, sad wife
Run away with your Vronsky
A train? Now we’re sad!
(spoiler alert: yes she throws herself in front of a train)

Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis
Oedipus complex?
Id? Ego? Super-ego?
It’s just a cigar!

Jean-Paul Sartre and Existentialism
Condemned to freedom!
To be alive, we must choose!
I still don’t get it

The Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Yes, one of the giants
Eventually she will be
The future knows, trust me

The dolls are the pills
Three girls seek fame, don’t find it
It sold a lot of copies

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Frodo has the ring
Sauron searches with his eye
Three movies to rule them all!
(no six! Eight? Eleventeen?)

And one more – this is by my daughter Jillian:
(caution - spoiler alert!)
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (book 6)
by J.K. Rowling
Pensieve shows the past
Horcruxes must be destroyed
Snape kills Dumbledore!

Thus ends the Western Canon
Our lesson is done
You may not know it all
But at least you know some

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Word from the Corner - Amy Lowell and Ted Kooser

The Word from the Corner

     (originally posted on Facebook "North Andover Poets Corner" 11 Aug 2018)

Two poems about travel this week. One about traveling away from one you love, the second about traveling together. Didn't want to have one without the other. Peace.
The Taxi
By Amy Lowell (1874–1925)
When I go away from you
The world beats dead
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?


A Map of the World
by Ted Kooser (b.1939)
One of the ancient maps of the world
is heart-shaped, carefully drawn
and once washed with bright colors,
though the colors have faded
as you might expect feelings to fade
from a fragile old heart, the brown map
of a life. But feeling is indelible,
and longing infinite, a starburst compass
pointing in all the directions
two lovers might go, a fresh breeze
swelling their sails, the future uncharted,
still far from the edge
where the sea pours into the stars.
Both are from "The Best of Poetry In Motion", edited by Alice Quinn, selections from the continuing NYC MTA program that started in 1992 and posted art and poetry in the NY subways.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Word from the Corner - AUTUMN BY RAINER MARIA RILKE

The Word from the Corner

The weather seems to want to turn toward fall...but the temperatures haven't been cooperating, not yet anyway. But I'm ready for fall, and I found this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. And then I found about a dozen translations from Rilke's original German! Which one is best? Since I don't speak German, it's hard to tell, but I liked this one by Margarete Münsterberg, first published 1902. I include the original German for those who do know the language. I'm not an expert on the art of translating poetry...but it's pretty clear that you don't translate a poem, you re-author it. You need to be a poet yourself, one who's darn good enough to capture the allusions and imagery in the new language. Oh yeah, and get the rhythm and rhyme while you're at it. How is that possible? But some poets out there are good enough to do it. I hope our autumn arrives soon. Enjoy. ______________________________________________ AUTUMN BY RAINER MARIA RILKE, 1875-1926 (Translated by Margarete Münsterberg) The leaves are falling, falling as from far, As if far gardens in the skies were dying; They fall, and never seem to be denying. And in the night the earth, a heavy ball, Into a starless solitude must fall. We all are falling. My own hand no less Than all things else; behold, it is in all. Yet there is One who, utter gentleness, Holds all this falling in His hands to bless. ______________________________________________ Herbst Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit, als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten; sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde. Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erdeaus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit. Wir allen fallen. Diese Hand da fällt. Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen. Und doch ist einer, welcher dieses Fallen undendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.