Saturday, December 23, 2017

Judith Janoo wins 1st place in Anita Andrews Award Poetry Contest [Austin]

Stazia McFadyen, of Austin, Texas, coordinator of the 2017 Poets for Human Rights event, sends this by e-mail:

Congratulations to the 1st and 2nd place winners of the 2017 Anita McAndrews Award Poetry Contest.

1st Place - "Take to the Streets, February 15, 2003" by Judith Janoo of  E. Burke, Vermont


Take to the Streets, February 15, 2003
            I wish I could shut up, but I can't, and I won't. 
Desmond Tutu

Is it dangerous
, she asked
exiting the bus against ten degree gusts,
walking Manhattan's Third Avenue,
dark casement awaking like Rembrandt
stroked the morning, our numbers
multiplying, spilling onto Second
with neglected appeals.
     Sure we were all mad
after the attacked, shocked back,
but what had these people done?
Wives of firefighters waved banners:
No blood for Oil,
business people,
blue-collared, poor, frayed, disabled,
babies in strollers, Grace Pauley,
9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows,
Susan Sarandon spoke, and Desmond Tutu.
Half a million strong, said the man behind us
as we merged onto First, The reports will pinch it,
     say we're hippies, lefties, gut our numbers.
His suit had ridden many buses --
They always turn down the volume.
The world
marched that day against a rampage that would
yield no chemicals or Al-Qaeda.  Those who've
walked the street never again see only pavement.
No, my daughter then told a friend, it isn't
dangerous to walk, only to not
say a word.


Stazja adds:  "Judith Janoo is a writer and yoga teacher. Her writing has won the Soul Making Keats award for poetry and the Vermont Award for Continued Excellence in Writing.  She is also a Dana Award Finalist."

2nd Prize - Pursuit of Life by Gabrielle Sinclair

Pursuit of Life

We walk at night
Moon lights our way
Helicopters hover
Searching their prey.

Harsh land trips us
desolate, dry
We've been walking for days
Baby, don't cry.

No one around?
You never know
The group is far ahead
Torn feet go slow.

No work at home
Can't feed my child
There's work in Florida
Weather's more mild.

What's left to do?
Risk I must take
End justifies the means
No choice to make.

No food or drink
Can't pack enough
Coyote did not say
The trip's so rough.

Snake bite killed one
Heat got one, too
Another just collapsed
What could we do?

Border is tight
We have to dare
More of us are dying
Nobody cares.

This land was ours
Another time
Pursuit of Liberty
Now is a crime.

Gabrielle has been an actor, singer, writer and editor. She currently lives in Lake Havasu City, Arizona with her significant others: Two cats, one dog and one man. She would like the United States Government to establish a Department of Peace.  


Stazja continues: "Grateful thanks to Judith Janoo and Gabrielle Sinclair for their permission to publish their works, and to all who entered this year's contest.
Thanks also to Kate Sweet and Anita Welch, who continue to support the Anita McAndrews Award Poetry Contest, and to Elyse Van Breemen and Sioux Hart for reading the poems at this year's Poets for Human Rights awards event."

With love,

Stazja McFadyen


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Poetry that Matters

Here's someone's take on poetry making -- making it matter.  Tom Keene recently gave the Sunday morning talk at the UU church I attend here.  I especially liked this poem, so he sent it for us to share as well as anything from his website:

Poetry that Matters
First, grasp the facts of whatever is
as to cut through and under mere appearance
and any consensus to deny.
Next, speak, write, whisper, shout
their untold-ring-true meanings.
Then, put these forth
like a fisherman’s bait
to hook the guts of any who listen,
enflame the passion of those who can hear.
Rouse them to rise
out of pretense into planting themselves,
put down roots, send up branches, bear fruit.
Tom Keene
November 10, 2017

San Antonio poet Tom Keene. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Carol Youmans sent a poem after she left

About Poetry Making

When I picked up my pen,
I thought about reading to 34 earnest ears
Circled in a room
(If Jeannie forgot to come)
And I missed them so much
That I picked up the phone instead
And called a friend
I haven't talked to
in months.
                            Carol Youmans

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

a poem from Polish poet Tadeusz Rózewicz

poetry doesn't always
take the form
of a poem

after fifty years
of writing
may appear
to the poet
in the shape of a tree
a bird
flying away
it takes the shape
of lips
it nests in their silence

or it lives in a poem
devoid of form and content

                          Oct. 13, 1988

So  this is in line with an earlier question, whether or not a poem can exist without words.  I think.  Found a collection, Sobbing Superpower: selected poems of Tadeusz Rózewicz, in our coffeeshop down here this morning.     (posting from Texas, Sylvia Manning)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Last meeting for 2017, a potluck of poems was enjoyed by all.

LtoR: Phillip (his back to us), Dolores, Jim, Scott, Stephen, Mark, Jed, Mariel, Judith, Carter, Joanne, Jean in pink.
Since you can't see Steve Cahill, in pink behind the post, here's a picture of him alone, and a picture of his fellow Slam competitor, Marc Creavan:
Marc Creavan, 3rd place at the slam

Steve Cahill, 1st place winner at
 recent Highland Arts Center Slam (Greensboro)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Time and Eternity, by Judith Janoo

Judith Janoo
a poem in response to How to Be a Poet by Wendell Berry:

Time and Eternity
        "for patience joins time to eternity," Wendell Berry

There is no end to it
the way time eases
into a moment

makes it home
unblinking moves on
not hurried, not slow
minds its own
           no end to its grace
how it arrives as an offering
spans the hour
dropping sand as reddening
maples in pulsing wind, flare
blazon against white birches
slender sway
dropping leaves that dance
drift, settle
as a note that's held to full
measure, rendering
to earth, sky,
this universe and
the next
its silent enticement
never looks back
needs no map,
comes and gently
goes without closing the door,
time, a string of pearls
a lamppost for the light of eternity.

                                             Judith Janoo




Monday, October 23, 2017

Two from Joanne Giannino's earlier collection

Joanne Giannino

Journeywoman:  Poems 1982-1991 is a collection of poems by Joanne Giannino published by Healing House Press.

Below is a poem from that book, A decade of words


A decade of words

I need these words close
they span a decade
I've kept them from flames
and ensuing (and lifesaving)
from notebooks to looseleaf
to photocopied anthology
read by family members
heard by art school audience
and recorded for performance art
these words are mine
and I am comforted
in their evidence
of my living
and someday
I will shuffle them
into boundness
only to release them
again to cuddle and
remember the
fumbling, procrastinating, caring
poet in me.

Steve Cahill's response to Wendell Berry's How to Be a Poet

S.J. (Steve) Cahill
How to be a poet --

First of all, forget convention,
the restrictions of form.
Don't think about syllables and lines
Or poems with rhymes.
And don't worry about length -- for God's sake don't worry about
     too short or too long
or you'll get caught in the straitjacket stranglehold of that
     suffocating embrace
of writing lines that fit on the page and trying not to push
     envelopes or margins or
write stream-of-consciousness prose-like sentences that go
     on-and-on with free-
range enjambment and making lines break in the middle because
     sometimes a
poem needs a good run-on sentence to give the poem
     a little outlaw flavor.
One of those.
There are no rules Cowboy, and the ones that exist need to be broken.
So let the mind go free, like a runaway horse, or a jungle cat, or an innocent child,
or a squall at sea from hot Mediterranean winds.  Let the mind gush like a Roman
fountain and rage like a flood-stage river.  Let it laugh like an insane serial killer or
tinkle like the music of silver water in a mountain stream.
Let the mind flow like spilled water
-- filling and forming --
hither and thither (Now there's a weird pair of words)
seeking its own level
or overflowing the dam.
Think what happens to lemons to make lemonade.
What happens to eggs to make omelets.
What happens to animals to make sausage.
            (Or maybe don't think about that.)
Think about love and life with ethereal light and music and song
Think about loose cannons and death and wars that went wrong
       Short wars -- The Six Day War
                 Long wars -- The 100 Year War
                           Wars with pretty names -- The War of Roses
The Big One -- aren't they all? -- The war to end all wars that didn't.
Hot wars and cold wars and what we'll name the one that's coming?
We're losing The war on drugs and the War on poverty
The war of attrition -- that one may go either way.
The war against the environment seems to be the only one we're winning.
So the war of words -- which we're having now -- is all you need if you want to
be a poet, so just do it, because being a poet is a pretty good gig:
                             You can stay in your pajamas all day -- Talk in non sequiturs
                             Act weird -- Stare into space and claim to be thinking.
                             And forget to take out the trash
          And you can leave pieces and fragments and pages of stuff like this lying
around unfinished because you are a poet -- and poets can get away with it --
poets have a ticket to ride.  Get on the humanity train and head for happy or sad or
true love forever or broken hearts and lonely despair.  Saddle up a horse with no
name and take a ride on the wild side.  And who knows?  Sometimes even
something like this can end up on life support and help you make it through the
darkness of another long night.
       Whatever you write won't get you into heaven, but it will get you into a
poetry group at The Barton Library and you'll have a chance to read your writing
to some real poets.
p.s.  And they have a blog

                                                                                           S.J. (Steve) Cahill

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Stephen Hickey's piece in response to Wendell Berry's poem, How to Be a Poet

Stephen Hickey
Wendell Berry's How to Be a Poet works for him.  Perhaps there is some inspiration for all of us but I think he leaves a lot out that would later have occurred to him and he would have a never-ending and never-to-be- finished grand and grander opus if he were to add all that will occur to him.
And this is just for him now and him to come.
For the rest of us the problems multiply and need to be adjusted to fit ourselves.
Let us consider, what is the stuff of poetry?  What can it include, what needs to be left out?
Can some things be poetry for some but vain unnecessary mundanities for others?
I guess it's how it's thought of and how expressed that makes almost anything the stuff of poetry.
For me poetry can be what you need at the moment; what Berry describes is of what he needed at the moment he wrote it down.
Poetry is the progression of our constantly changing psyches, what stays with us when we have moved on and reach back for when we need to remember, what we experienced to help us in the now, things that lasted
for our needs now. 
Silence and nothingness seem the poetry of death. The fear and hysteria which they bring
us now are the poetry of the now.  The helpless is the poetry of the what-is-to-come.
The Poetries of the now are the straw that not quite make that bale that might float
and bear us for a while as the hopes of life, no matter how well-filled, will be the vanity
of the eternities we all inhabit.
These are the poetries we will need in the times to come.
These are the poetries we have always had.  There is only hope in the uncertainties
and in the shapelessness of these thoughts.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

a poem by Jean Morris

City Not in America                    

                                               by Jean Morris

Remember how our lips felt?
We believed the moon too large
the bell church sang in alto

Remember how the river slivered?
We might have danced maybe
mist moist lay against us

Remember how glass broke into our eyes?
We tied a scarf around the
statue so it wouldn't tumble into the sea.

Call remember -- whisper remember.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pantoums from Elaine, Carole, Sylvia

Carole Perron, October 2017
Pantoum for June

Let's take a family vacation.                                                  
We'll go somewhere warm.
Pack the tents in the car
Head south to Cape Hatteras.

We'll go somewhere warm.
Let's go to the ocean, see the sand and the waves.
Head south to Cape Hatteras
Maybe even see the outdoor play in the round.

Let's go to the ocean, see the sand and the waves.
The water is warm, it's June.
Maybe even see the outdoor play in the round.
The bicentennial is the buzz word.

The water is warm, it's June.
Pack the tents in the car.
The bicentennial is the buzz word.
Let's take a family vacation.
                                                Carol Perron

The Surfer
Elaine Wright

The blond young man, blessed with youth and strength,
his rippling muscles propelling him out on his board;
the high tide pushing whitecaps toward shore,
upright, and astride the board, he awaited the perfect wave.

His rippling muscles propelling him out on his board, 
pushing through wave after wave until, 
upright, and astride the board, he awaited the perfect wave, 
the one that would bring him to his feet.

Pushing through wave after wave until
he turned his board toward shore, anticipating
the one that would bring him to his feet.
We could tell that he had done this before.

He turned his board toward shore, anticipating
the high tide pushing white caps toward shore.
We could tell that he had done this before;
the blond young man blessed with youth and strength.

Elaine Wright

PANTOUM FOR TOM— Sylvia Manning

Year after year, day after day
his request of life is music before coffee.

“Put the Beatles!” — like a new idea — he’ll say, 
or every once in a while, “Willy!”

His request of life is music before coffee.
We’ve played a Beatles collection till it’s no longer groovy.
Every once in a while he asks for Willy;
He likes Elvis, too, but prefers his movies.

We’ve played that Beatles collection till it’s no longer groovy
in these years since he came to need our care.
He likes Elvis too, but prefers his movies.
It’s the Beatles’ collection that’s the worst for wear.

In these years since he came to need our care
we’ve given him all the music he needs, and then some.
It’s the Beatles’ collection that’s by far the worst for wear.
But he’s learned to find even classical music winsome.

We’ve given him all the music he needs and then some.
As his body grows weaker, his health seems surprisingly sound.
He’s learned to find even classical music winsome,
but with Willy, it’s like an old lost friend’s been found.

 As his body grows weaker his health seems surprisingly sound. 
His movements, his state of mind depend on what we play. 
If it’s Willy, it’s like an old lost friend’s been found,
but year after year, day after day.

 June 9, 2003, Palmview, Texas
previously published in 2003 in Waterways:  Poetry in the Mainstream, NYC

Sylvia Manning at Mullein Hill, 2006

Friday, October 6, 2017

Carter Billis brings us a poem, The Boy That Never Sleeps

The Boy That Never Sleeps

Carter Billis
Sometimes I need to be reassured that I'm not the only      
one in this world,
that there are more people here than I can count
on my fingers and toes.
When I'm walking down a busy street,
it feels like I could walk for miles,
anywhere my feet could bring me.
I'm boundless, ready to see everything I haven't seen,
on my way to meet everyone I couldn't elsewhere,
prepared to do all the things that I've never done.
I wasn't made to be alone.
I wasn't made to be motionless.
I was made to live freely.
I was made not to follow the crowd,
but to explore every crowd there is,
to have time, even if brief, in everyone's lives.
I want to make my way into their photographs,
into the pages of their journals,
into their kindest thought.
I want to repay the energy I'm gifted from others
until there's a never ending flow in and out of me,
enough to keep me rolling until there's
nothing left to see.

(This was for a homework idea to write about a place you'd like to go to or remember from having been there.  Carter must have been thinking of The City That Never Sleeps, right?  NYC.)

And here's the piece Carter wrote in our session October 4th in response to the prompt, quotating Galway Kinnell, "Poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment."  (So read on until the last line.)

recently I've found that poetry ...

I was born on May 29th.  This means that
I'm a gemini. 
Characteristically, gemini's are the signs
that talk the most, and even with my

shy nature, I find this to be true.
I have all of these thoughts in
my mind, and frankly I would
explode if they didn't all come
out somehow.  Usually they're
documented as text
conversations with my friends
or posts on social media, but
recently I've found that poetry,
if that's what you can call
my writing, is an effective way
of expression.  Perhaps this is
prose.  Perhaps it's just endless
banter.  But what matters is that
I'm expressing my thoughts with
as little concealment as possible.

Being There, by Steve Cahill

Steve (S.J.) Cahill
Being There
Being here requires Being There
Being There being a novel
by Jersy Kosinski
in which
The protagonist was a man named Chance
Who was learning disabled — an innocent —
A Jesus-like mystic who wandered about
Seeing the world through the eyes of a child
And said so.
He was without protective coloration or deceit or guile
So responded to every situation and answered all questions
With the simplest of truths which were so misunderstood
And mistaken for parable and metaphor, that the sophisticated urbanites
thought he was much more than he was — and so it is with poets. 

(The prompt this last Wednesday night was from the preface of a new anthology Poetry of Presence:  An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, edited by Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby R. Wilson, with quotation from Galway Kinnell:

"Poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.")

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Joanne Giannino's poem in eulogy, Love remembered

Love remembered

Agudas Achim Cemetery, August 31, 2017

As I take my place
Standing a little back, behind the immediate family                   
The rabbi says,
“Now at the grave,
we know for sure that we will not see her again.”

I see the open hole – carved from the earth –
roots reaching out across the chasm created by the sheer cut
perhaps from the tree behind me
its underground limbs
circling above all the bodies of the dead
in their concrete tombs
the simple wood coffins encased but not unreachable:
“We are here with you,” they say.

Of course I thought none of this then,
Only – look, there in that hole in the ground is Dotty,
A woman whom I loved, and loved me.
And, we, none of us will see her smile again.
She is gone from us.

The rabbi says prayers and then gives instructions
To help in this task of certainty:
To shovel earth on top of the casket (to bury her)
To fill the hole dug for her
from which she will not leave
And to encourage us to begin the slow process of grieving.
He shows us: take the shovel from the pile of earth,
Turn it first upside down to feel your reluctance
Take a little earth, cast it onto the casket.
He does. The thud resonates.
Second turn it right side up to assist in the work,
perform a final kindness for her,
a mitzvah.
He does. Another thud.
With a firm slice, he returns the shovel to the pile.

Suddenly, workers appear
in tattered boots and
decidedly not funeral clothes
They move assuredly among the mourners,
over the grass, around the pile of earth,
they lower a concrete slab, then another
to form a solid covering over the casket
while those closest to her throw flowers
to kiss her one last time:
something soft to touch her
before she is gone from them, forever.

Then we take turns as instructed.
I throw my two shovelfuls and
try not to hear the thud nor
see the growing mound below.

Two young men, her grandson and a nephew,
take their time,
place a shovelful tenderly
into each of the four corners,
and along the sides of the grave,
carefully, as she might have
as she filled a baking pan
making a cake for one of them,
smoothing out the batter
so it would lay (rise)
just right.

Joanne Giannino
Joanne Giannino

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ellen Mass sends four for her leave-taking gift to us

Picture of Ellen large enough to see her, taken last year when we met downstairs.

The Reservation

We search and steward this place
With surprising green and blue resources

With feelings of human-animal kin,
Both of us, urban and threatened
A wild place, filled with tiny warblers in spring and fall
Palm, yellow rump, blue black, green, chestnut- sided, parula*,
They bless us against fixation, fleeting and moving
to seasonal habitat far away

This urban respite becomes open business season for deadly intrusion
With warblers and kindred species soon wasted by asphalt soils.



Magnetic relations between 2 talkers
Obsessed with repartee’, mundane or not
Minimize all reality around
Absenting the sweet spirits of other souls
Touting kindness and gentility
between their tiny connecting thread of understanding

With feathered  heads bobbing above water
Nature disdains this mindless chatter
I see timidity floating quietly
The animal’s humility submerged

Alternatively, I see stars brighten
And the two drowning chatterers
calling over that deep water for survival.


Female with chestnut belt
During 40 mph into the River
With ta-ta-ta-ta-ta
Almost invisible to ragged crested,
Blue as miniature jay,
At home in the dirt mound we dug
for her ease and breeding.
Labored with love the entry and exit doors
That business volunteers created
Little did they sense their shoveling was mere
Community service
For this miraculous marathon flyer

Dangerous Feeder

Watching feeder-- Comes purple finch,
Red as they come,
Jittery, paranoid as human suspicion
On the alert
Cooperative and fussy amongst peers
Long neck bobber
One by one seed from my feeder
Long surveillance
of my busy landscape
Danger may be anywhere.
Then on to next feeder
Crafty spotted one.  She overlooks nothing.