Friday, December 30, 2011


Happy Almost-New-Year, Poetry Fridayites! Poetry Fridayistas? Poetry Fridaymeisters? 

I'm pleased to be hosting Poetry Friday on the last Friday of 2011! It's been an interesting year but I'm anxious for 2012 to begin - somehow, it does feel this year as if a renewal of sorts is around the corner. I'm looking forward to political conversations about the direction this country is headed, and a renewed commitment on my part to moving it the direction I think is best - kinder, more generous to those in need, more focused on the common good. I won't wax political here on The Drift Record, but I will say that a national election year always makes me feel a bit like it's 1968 and I'm back in Berkeley, nineteen years old, full of energy and hope, believing my friends and I can make a difference. In honor of the girl I used to be and of the hours I spent hanging out at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco (I was a decade late for the Beats, but still - City Lights in the 60's!) and in honor of how much I read and loved both Whitman and Ginsberg, I offer up this strange, rebellious, charming, haunting poem by the pre-Howl Ginsberg himself. I hope teenagers are still reading poems with this kind of vitality, poems which have lines like "What peaches and what penumbras!" 

A Supermarket in California

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked
down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking
at the full moon.
  In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon
fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
  What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping
at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
--and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

   I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking
among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
  I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops?
What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
   I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you,
and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
  We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy
tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the

  Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour.
Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and
feel absurd.)
  Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade,
lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
  Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automo-
biles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
  Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America
did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a
smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of

[by Allen Ginsberg, Berkeley, 1955]
Please go to the Comments page and leave your Poetry Friday links and your descriptions. I'll gather them up and add them here as I find them throughout the day.  Happy New Year everyone!! 

Charles Ghigna (Father Goose) invites everyone to join him in posting a poem over at Poetry at Play, the blog of Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults. He answers the call with his own "Animal Metaphor Poem."

Myra Garces-Bascal offers us conch shells, split stones and other lovely images in a poem by Joel M. Toledo over at Gathering Books today.

The New Year promises to loom large today. Tanita Davis of [fiction instead of lies] is in with a poem about the new year by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Tanita adds a dab of Walt Whitman and a smidgen of Stanley Kunitz.

Over at a wrung sponge, Andi Sibley has posted a poem by the new Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, Sonia Sanchez.

John Lithgow's Poetry Corner CD is the subject of Tabatha Yeatts's post today at The Opposite of Indifference. As an example of one of the poems included in the collection, Tabatha links readers to a video of William Blakes' The Tyger. 

Laura Purdie Salas has two excerpts and one entire poem from Paul Janeczko's multi-voiced evocation of the Holocaust, Requiem, at her blog writing the world for kids. She also offers us a writing challenge (I mean to take her up on it!) on today's 15 Words or Less

Maria Horvath ends her month-long study of the sonnet with one of my favorite poems (I've got it memorized and hope never to forget a word of it!), Pied Beauty by Gerard Manly Hopkins, over at A Poem a Day from the George Hail Library.

There are four offerings from Diane Mayr today! At Random Noodling, we are treated to a fascinating  explanation of the Japanese tradition called "nengajyou," an exchange of New Year postcards. Diane also treats us to an original poem at Kids of the Homefront Army, a poem by Muhammad-al-Ghuzzi over at Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet, and - for dessert - a quotation from Robert Frost at Kurious K's Kwotes.

What a treat! Heidi Mordhorst is posting all 27 poems from her experiment in November with writing a poem a day (MyPoPerDayMo.) Check it out at my juicy little universe.

At A Teaching Life, Tara ends the year with two lovely poems by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Linda Kulp graces us with an inspirational reflection on what the words of "Auld Lang Syne" mean to her as the year ends, at her blog, Write Time.

Mary Lee and I are definitely in sync with our presidential reflections. Check out her review of Susan Katz's book, The President's Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems about the Presidents over at A Year of Reading

Get ready for the New Year with Amy LV's original poem at The Poem Farm.

Irene Latham, proud new owner of a Kindle, shares thoughts at Live. Love. Explore! about the Poetry Tag Time, P*Tag and Gift Tag eBooks put together by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, and offers us a poem from the talented (and I mean talented) Steven Withrow to illustrate what kinds of poems were chosen for those three downloadable collections.

Doraine Bennett's thoughts have turned to 2012, too - specifically to New Year's resolutions -  with a poem by Kenn Nesbitt over at Dori Reads.

Ever lose a great idea because you didn't have a pen to write with, or no pencil, or no paper, or...? Check out Donna's origianl poem about these moments at Mainely Write.

Over at Hey, Jim Hill!, Jim shares wonderfully wacky wordplay full of w's. (Jim, congratulations on your acceptance to Vermont College of Fine Arts - you are going to LOVE IT, that's a promise. Welcome! I'll see you soon out in Vermont.)

On Sunday the list of Cybils Finalists in Poetry will be posted over at Check It Out. Meanwhile, take a look at the found poem which emerges when a list of titles of the year's Poetry Friday poems is put together. Even unplanned, poetry is amazing!

David Elzey, who loves real words like "folderol" and fake words like "gunplaxi" as much as I do, delivers on the folderol part of that over at Fomagrams. (Then do as David suggests and "imbibe freely" of poetry this weekend.)

Poetry is all about compression, right? Try a short and sweet poem with a long title - it's an original by Greg Pincus of GottaBook.

Kerry Aradhya interveiws author Doreen Cronin over at Picture Books & Pirouettes about three books Cronin collaborated on with artist Scott Menchin.

Carol over at Carol's Corner found some favorite passages from Anne LaMott's book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith and turned them into found poems.

The bittersweet moment when you say goodbye to a child headed off to college is evoked in an original poem by Lorie Ann Grover this week at On Point.

And what a pleasure it is to finish up my Poetry Friday round-up (I think) with a poem by Pablo Neruda, thanks to Ruth at There Is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town.

Judy at Learning to Let Go is in with a poem by Howard Moss. 

Don't miss Sylvia Vardell's Favorite Poetry Books of 2011, which I've posted at the very beginning of this round-up, too. Don't want you to miss the list - it's wonderful. Run out and find those books and read them.

Happy New Year, One and All!
Ginsberg - Young
Ginsberg - Old
Whitman - Young
Whitman - Old
Julie  - Young (serious short one on the right)
Julie  - Old (serious studious one on the left)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Poetry Friday: Index to a History of the Hiccup - An Original Poem

The Hiccup - An  Explanation Which Makes It Look Like It Happens in Your Nose

 I had a lot of fun responding to Tricia's Poetry Stretch challenge over at The Miss Rumphius Effect this week. She drew readers' attention to the odd and wonderful poetry of Paul Violi - some of which imitates the tables of contents or the indices of imaginary books  - and asked us to produce something along those lines. Part of the challenge was to make it autobiographical, and the poem I produced doesn't exactly do that, though I think my own experiences with the hiccup over the years influenced it. Here it is:


absolution, papal - ix

accidents involving h. 1-13, 27-39, 43, 45, 49, 57, 60, 62-66, 71, 82-87, 88-102, 107, 114, 118-119, 123, 127, 142, 146-149, 157,160, 169

bowling during 88-102

breath, holding - see fainting mishaps

chewing, fast and slow 9

fainting mishaps 27-39

fingers, ears in 5

Kissinger, Henry, resignation of 18

magneseium, not milk of 170, not gargling with 71

mantra, personal, ineffectiveness of 8

meditation, impossibility of 17

nerve, vagus - surgical removal of 38, side effects of 39-68

Nixon, Richard, erased tapes, 18

paper bag - see fainting mishaps

prayers, ineffectiveness of 173

silly, getting scared 82 unforeseen consequences of 83-87

Stein, Gertrude, poetry of 40

t'ai chi, during 65

The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, career vii

tickling, unintended addiction to as a result of h. 127

tongue, holding of 14, unforeseen consequences of 15-17

vinegar, gargling with 79

water, gargling with 78

weight loss and dieting during 159

whiskey, gargling with 80, 84, 86, 92, 99, 103, 143, 166

zen, art of the z. hiccup 172
I recommend everyone give this challenge a try - especially the index side of it. It's amazing how much you begin to notice indices and what they actually do after trying to produce one yourself (even if the one you produce is a parody of the form.)   Paul Violi understood how to play with language and call our attention to its oddities. He died last spring at the age of 67 and there was a huge outpouring of remembrances from friends and former students in New York City. It must have been amazing to study with him. 
Poet and Teacher Paul Violi
The Poetry Friday round-up this week is being hosted by Kate Coombs over at The Book Aunt. Head over there to see what people have posted.