National Poetry Month: 30 poems in 30 days

DMotherBelov back-001

What to do first?

Once, a writer friend, visiting my studio, viewing a bronze sculpture of mine (still sitting on my hearth today) said, “It must be hard for you to decide what to do first when you get up in the morning!”  She said this because I paint, I’ve done some sculpture, I write (poetry, a novel, a blog…sometimes) and I do body & soul work with private clients.  She was thinking all that doing and going in so many directions might be causing me some conflict.  She’s right.  But I don’t seem to be able to stop.

I’ve been working in this circular way as an artist for twenty-five years, each media delightfully informing the other.

However, last month (March, 2016), I agreed to write 30 poems in 30 days for Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Project.  This very creative way of raising funds for the small press was a wonderful challenge that, as you can imagine, kept me quite focused!

It was a thrilled to see my DAILY work “published” on the Tupelo 30/30 blog pages alongside the other six accomplished poets who also wrote during March.  The poems are still “up” through the end of April,  National Poetry Month  & you can read them here.

Pick up the pen…

This coming Friday, April 15, 2016 from 7-9PM, I will be very happily reading in Austin at Malvern Books, with other awesome Tupelo 30/30 alumni from previous months and/or years:  Robert Okaji, Christine Beck, Pamela Paek, Katy Chrisler, D.G. Geis, & Ronnie K. Stephens.

Yesterday, I re-blogged a post by Rober Okaji:  How to Write a Poem.  The reason I like the poem he posted so much is because it beautifully describes how poetry happens for me as well.  I do just what he says to do:  live and let the words come.    But during March, I picked up my pen.  Every day.

512px-Stipula_fountain_pen

image: used with permission via Creative Commons by Antonio Litteri0

 

The pen is the difference between simply living a life and living a writer’s life, the pen, the art of listening, and a strange penchant for recording everything!

One of the most interesting things that occurred to me during this writing exercise is that as Naomi Shihab Nye says, poems are everywhereBut you have to be listening.

I didn’t want to “cheat” myself out of the chance to learn this (again!), so I decided that I would wait, each day, for the prompt life would provide.  Life did not disappoint.

 

windshield wiper in the rain cc Kezee

image:  used with permission via Creative Commons photographer, Kezee

Have you ever prayed for rain?

Close to the end of day #24, I still had not written anything, but on my way home from the grocery store, I stopped at the intersection, turning left to go home.  Here is the poem that stop prompted:

 

stopping

 

at the intersection

i nod

 

allow

the cement truck

to cross

 

—huge tumbler

rolling

 

i think      about

ingredients:

 

shells

shale

 

limestone

 

too much

or

too little

 

causes

 

—disintegration

 

~

 

the day       you

announced:

 

i’ve joined the army

 

how i thought

this        might

 

harden      you

 

how it did:

 

pills for rage

pills for sleep

pills for pain

 

~

 

too much

 

for years

 

you wouldn’t

look up

 

your back

to every wall

 

~

 

have you    ever

 

prayed

 

for rain

for a job

 

for a soul

 

      ~

 

today      you call

 

full

overflow

 

of the old      you

the one     i knew

 

mama

 

i want

 to tell you

 

i have     

so many

ideas

 

      ~

 

i think      about

intersections:

 

of faith

of mistakes

 

how i

came to

call you

 

my son

 

by making one

 

~

 

i think      about

 

the time      you

& i         prayed

 

for our lives

 

—perpendicular

roads

 

in front of

the cement plant

 

that day

the tornado

 

turned up

trucks

 

only yards

from us

 

~

 

how we shook

how the deluge

 

(almost) overtook

 

how we bow

 

to a god

neither of us

 

understand

 

d. ellis phelps is the author of Making Room for George, A Love Story (Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, forthcoming 2016.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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