Tuesday, May 26, 2015

ruin

can we be this
open? can we really be
this naked flesh
and bone broken
and pressed
together?
and then can we
be honest and
without shame?

this is a man
without guile
he said,
and then pointed
to the moment
the wound was fresh
and heart broken
i wandered
into a desert
full of searching

***
when the time
was complete
(a week,
40 days,
a year)
i awoke --
found that someone
made a poultice
and wrapped it around me
-- a cataplasmic cast

i found myself
shadowed
beneath a fig tree.
i reached upwards
and emptied
each branch,
filled my mouth
with seeds,
made myself a home
in the earth.
covered the scars
fingered in the skin
drew in the sand
new figures.

Friday, May 1, 2015

reflections on national poetry month/ NaPoWriMo

april is National Poetry Month in both Canada and the United States, and over the past 6 years i have posted a poem a day to join in this celebration of language and symbol.

in 2010, 2011 and 2013 i simply posted poems that moved me in some way. in 2012 i offered poems that had a more religious sensibility, and in 2014 i focussed on canadian poets. those years i also concluded National Poetry Month with a poem of my own. this year it was again simply poems i enjoy.

each year i have returned to some of my favourite poets – Anne Carson, Jan Zwicky, Nicholas Samaras – but i have also discovered so many new poets, such as Gregory Orr. i have also tried to include a range of poetic voices.

last fall i had the opportunity to attend the Glen West writing workshop with Scott Cairns, another of my favourite poets. it was encouraging in that, while i hadn’t really pursued my poetry for some 15 years, the most recent poems i submitted were pretty solid poems. i wasn’t, it seemed, as rusty as i had thought. when i returned i continued writing poetry, and have enjoyed this reawakening immensely.


this year, inspired by that experience, i took on the additional challenge of posting a new (and as finished as possible) poem each day. i had been thinking of NaNoWriMo and wondered if there were anything comparable for poetry. lo, and behold, there waseth.

i invited several friends and colleagues to join me in this challenge though, ultimately, only Dave von Bieker joined me in this experiment. it was pretty exciting to see what wrote.

while there were days that stretched pretty late before i was able to post something, for most of the month it felt pretty comfortable. i will definitely be revisiting a number of these poems and rewriting/ editing, but on the whole they feel pretty complete. i also look forward to exploring some other formats and using some prompts i gathered over the month. after all, i do have a goal of 50 to 60 finished poems.

i think i would still like to set a standard for continuing to write - perhaps a [finished] poem every 2 weeks? - but in the meantime, if any of my fellow poets and writers would be willing to give feedback, i would truly appreciate it.
until next year...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

NaPoWriMo - day thirty

thirty pieces

the first thing that comes to mind
is silver. not gold.
does this image still have currency?
does it still speak to you?
will you carry it in your pocket,
listen to the jangling of history and myth;
or are these merely coins
emblazoned with a stranger’s face,
more or less worn by hands.

i would like to think that
these poems are an offering,
laboured over -
filled with intention.
i would like to place them
in your hands, to exchange
the words for sound,
to hear you speak the words
and roll them around in your mouth
and mind, to carry them with you
as you walk away.

i would like to think that
some small pieces will be remembered
or pieces of pieces
rediscovered on occasion,
like lost coins between cushions
or money found in pockets
when doing the laundry.

so, here: i give you these thirty pieces.
i have done my best to be honest
about the voice behind the voice.
i have tested what is good, true and beautiful.
i have polished them
and brought them into the light,
and now i place them in your hands.
spend them however you choose.

That's Not Writing by Derek Beaulieu - NPM 30

“That’s not writing, that’s typewriting.”
—Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac

“That’s not writing, that’s plumbing.”
—Samuel Beckett on William S. Burroughs

That’s not writing, that’s typing.
That’s not writing, that’s someone else typing.
That’s not writing, that’s googling.
That’s not writing, that’s blogging.
That’s not writing, that’s wasted, unproductive, tweaking time.
That’s not writing, that’s stupid.
That’s not writing, that’s a coloring book.
That’s not writing, that’s coming up with ideas.
That’s not writing, that’s waiting.
That’s not writing, that’s a mad scribble.
That’s not writing, that’s printing and lettering.
That’s not writing, that’s tape-recording.
That’s not writing, that’s word-processing.
That’s not writing, that’s following the herd.
That’s not writing, that’s copying and pasting.
That’s not writing, that’s directing.
That’s not writing, that’s using high-“polluting” words to confuse readers.
That’s not writing, that’s aggregating, and there are already plenty of aggregators out there.
That’s not writing, that’s printing.
That’s not writing, that’s art.
That’s not writing, that’s Tourettes.
That’s not writing, that’s posing.
That’s not writing, that’s button-mashing, and anyone can do that.
That’s not writing, that’s vandalism.
That’s not writing, that’s acting.
That’s not writing, that’s blabbing.
That’s not writing, that’s hiking.
That’s not writing, that’s just a knife he’s using to eat pie with.
That’s not writing, that’s bullying.
That’s not writing, that’s dentistry.
That’s not writing, that’s just endless blathering.
That’s not writing, that’s yelling.
That’s not writing, that’s butchery!
That’s not writing, that’s a fortune cookie!
That’s not writing, that’s emoting
That’s not writing, that’s just dressing it up after.
That’s not writing, that’s just playing around.
That’s not writing, that’s daydreaming.
That’s not writing, that’s showing off.
That’s not writing, that’s keyboarding.
That’s not writing, that’s calligraphy.
That’s not writing, that’s mindless pasting.
That’s not writing, that’s an action flick.
That’s not writing, that’s a puddle.
That’s not writing, that’s a tragedy.
That’s not writing, that’s assembly line mass production.
That’s not writing, that’s transcribing.
That’s not writing, that’s computer-generated text.
That’s not typing, that’s data entry.


Beaulieu, Derek. "That's not Writing" Please, No More Poetry: The Poetry of derek beaulieu. Dobson, Kit. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2013. 50-51.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NaPoWriMo - day twenty nine


choir

standing on the bleachers,
getting ready to sing,
my youngest son looks out
at the gathered crowd,
searching for me
while i try to catch his attention
to let him know i am here.
his eyes lock onto my eyes
locking onto his eyes
and a smile brightens his face.
he waves eagerly
as he sees me
seeing him.

was i like that as a boy?
i don’t remember.
all i know is my son
will know my eyes are on him,
he brings me great joy,
his smile is my smile.

i will be this father:
he will walk in the knowledge
that he blesses me.
i will bless him
with both hands.
i will bless him
with words of life.
i will bless him
with joy, and he will know
he is my song.