Monday, April 13, 2009

That's my dreamworld...

This is pretty fantastic prank a group of folks pulled off and it's taking the web by storm. All of the taglines are asking things like, "What would you do if you were waiting on train and a full-on musical number erupted around you?" Well, that's my dreamworld! I'd be the one trying to learn the steps and join in! How much would I have loved to be part of this choreographed madness (that's an oxymoron, just to reassure you that this blog is still about language some of the time...)

Speaking of fantasy lives, here's another of my favorite all time musical scenes that I wanted to be a part of. I pray that anyone who actually had the privilege of going to a 'school for the arts' actually had this experience once of twice during their tenure there:

Musicals aren't the only things that fill my dreamworld, well-lit stages abound as well. Last night, I escaped from a bit of Spring semester madness and went to listen to one of my favorites croon about his "Dreamworld" among other things. Robin Thicke is always a vision and his voice was stellar last night. I do long for the B-sides from his first (wildly underrated) album, so my dreamworld would include the likes of him serenading the inhabitants with songs like this:

And because no dreamworld of mine would be complete without an abundance of poems, we'd stock the classrooms, libraries, syllabi, backpacks and bedposts with anthologies like this:

Every month would be National Poetry Month and each day we'd carry poems like this--one's in which we could find music everywhere, even in the everyday lilt of ordinary things--in our pockets and pass them around:

The Healing Improvisation of Hair

If you undo your do you would
be strange. Hair has been on my mind.
I used to lean in the doorway
and watch my stony woman wind
the copper through the black, and play
with my understanding, show me she could
take a cup of river water,
and watch it shimmy, watch it change,
turn around and become ash bone.
Wind in the cottonwoods wakes me
to a day so thin its breastbone
shows, so paid out it shakes me free
of its blue dust. I will arrange
that river water, bottom juice.
I conjure my head in the stream
and ride with the silk feel of it
as my woman bathes me, and shaves
away the scorn, sponges the grit
of solitude from my skin, laves
the salt water of self-esteem
over my feathering body.
How like joy to come upon me
in remembering a head of hair
and the way water would caress
it, and stress beauty in the flair
and cut of the only witness
to my dance under sorrow's tree.
This swift darkness is spring's first hour.

I carried my life, like a stone,
in a ragged pocket, but I
had a true weaving song, a sly
way with rhythm, a healing tone.

--Jay Wright

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's National Poetry Month! -- Readings/Workshops/Travels

April is National Poetry Month and there is good stuff galore. Here's what I have going on for the next few weeks:

There will be several National Poetry Month readings at Pretlow Library in April. I'll be reading at my favorite Norfolk library on Monday, 4/13, at 6:00 PM. I'll read some from Conversion and give the folks a taste of the new work. Please come out if you're in town! Contact info. for the reading coordinator, Ms. Abraham, is below:

Trinika Abraham
Library Assistant II
Mary D. Pretlow Anchor Branch Library
111 W. Ocean View Ave
Norfolk, Va 23503

Next week, I'll be doing my part to make the wide world of academics think about poetry in new ways. At the ACTC Conference in Memphis, I'll be delivering a paper on Natasha Trethewey and highlighting poems from Domestic Work, Bellocq's Ophelia and Native Guard. The panel title alone should pique your interest--Poets and Poetry as the Core of America’s Future Memory--but we'll get deep into the reclamation and investigation of images in my paper, “Reclaiming Memory, Inventing History: Barthe’s Punctum in the Poetry of Natasha Trethewey.”

When I return I'll be hosting an Open Mic for the NSU Spartans (details to come) as well as continuing my Teen Poetry Workshop. We've done historical biographies, collage poetry, odes and we'll keep the words flowing for a few more sessions. Even if you're not a teen, you can come out to support poetry and pen some new verses with us. Here are the particulars:

WHAT: Teen Poetry Workshop -- Verse Biographies/Charting Our Own History
Activity Summary: For ages, poetry has been used as a means of charting our history in the world. It is a fast-paced art that pays attention to the minute details of our lives as well as the universality of human emotion. In this workshop, participants will engage in writing exercises that help generate poems that will tell their own stories and, ultimately, will become autobiographies in verse. No prior writing experience is needed. Students should, however, come prepared to write at each workshop and possibly share their work with others.
WHEN: Monday, 4/27, from 4:30 - 6:00
WHERE: Mary D. Pretlow Anchor Branch Library
111 W. Ocean View Ave.
441-1750 ext 323 or 324

Many fellow poets are engaging in a '30 Poems in 30 Days' project this month, I couldn't pull that off because I have so many other things going on. Even so, I'm enjoying reading the poems and have been going back to some of the greats to help my muse get her mojo going. Here is a beautiful poem that inspired me from Mary Oliver's New and Selected Poems: Volume One. I hope it inspires you too:


You can
die for it--
an idea,
or the world. People

have done so,
their small bodies be bound

to the stake,
an unforgettable
fury of light. But

this morning,
climbing the familiar hills
in the familiar
fabric of dawn, I thought

of China,
and India
and Europe, and I thought
how the sun

for everyone just
so joyfully
as it rises

under the lashes
of my own eyes, and I thought
I am so many!
What is my name?

What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it

whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter

--Mary Oliver