Member Monday: Time, by Larry Solberg

By Larry Solberg

EPSON MFP image

 

 


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction 9.) Poetry

Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Member Monday: Enrique, by George Parker

photo of author
By George T. Parker

Today I am sharing a poem I recently wrote. I wrote it in response to a prompt from In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop, by Steve Kowit.

You can listen to me read the poem at our new Writers Forum Podcast.

Enrique

   One of my favorite people

   For a couple of high school years.

Goofy.

Happy.

   Blasts of Faux Chinese.

He built model planes, too.

   Not well,

      As told by the

         Brush strokes in the glossy paint

         And upside down American star and bar.

But his got put on display

   In the school library.

      Mine did not.

         Why?

      Because he had the chutzpah to ask.

Sometimes high school insult humor

   Goes too far.

One day I went too far with Enrique.

After class, in the hall

   He grabbed my shirt front

   And shoved me against a locker.

He was rightfully pissed

   And I knew it.

So I didn’t react.

   I didn’t push back.

      We didn’t fight.

We went our separate ways

   But things were never

      The same

         After.

Enrique joined the Marines.

One day I heard about

   A car bomb in Beirut.

241 dead American servicemen.

   220 of them Marines.

Holy shit.

   Enrique.

I called everyone I knew who

   Might still be in touch

      With Enrique.

Nobody heard anything.

Nobody knew anything.

I saw lists of names,

   Partial lists.

I never saw Enrique’s name.

   That was a good thing.

Mostly.

As years passed by

   And I encountered other

      Round Lakeoids

One of my questions was always,

   “Have you heard anything about

      Enrique?”

Nobody had ever heard anything.

   That was a good thing.

Mostly.

And then…

Facebook

Eventually

   After years of finding

      Old friends and classmates,

There he is.

Enrique.

Safe. Successful.

   Selling cars in Chicago-land.

It doesn’t surprise me

   That Enrique is good at

      Selling cars.

Today we remain

   ‘Acquaintances’

      More than ‘friends.’

But learning that

   Enrique is okay

Was one of the joys

   Of my

      Life.

George T. Parker ©2021

Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think. This is only the beginning of the sorts of things we can do with a podcast for Writers Forum. If you are a Writers Forum member, you can head over to a discussion with other Writers Forum members at the private Facebook group Redding Writers Forum.

I will be talking about Poet Laureates, and in particular, California’s Poet Laureate on next week’s podcast.

Thanks, and have a great day!

Geo.


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction 9.) Poetry

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Haiku: A New Appreciation

leaves encased in ice

Haiku is a Japanese poetry form that many Americans admire. However, I have found very few adult Americans attempting to write it. Many of us learned about haiku in grade school English classes. We were taught the proper haiku form:

  • Three lines
  • Seventeen syllables
  • Broken into 5-7-5 syllable lines
  • Has to contain a ‘season’ element, indicating spring, summer, winter, or fall

Writers who do tackle haiku are challenged by the constraints of the form, like those who enjoy writing sonnets, or quatrains. Many other writers don’t like the constraints, and therefore, prefer to admire haiku from afar.

I recently read two books about writing haiku by experts in the field: The Heart of Haiku, by Jane Hirshfield, and Write Like Issa: A Haiku How-To, by David G. Lanoue. They have each translated thousands of haiku from Japanese to English.

I read Hirshfield’s book first. She focuses mainly on using the work of Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694), the poet who developed the haiku form in the late 1600s. He gave it the 5-7-5 form. Hirshfield says that Bashō elevated the form from simple playful verse into something more substantial. Hirshfield says that “he wanted to renovate human vision by putting what he saw into a bare handful of mostly ordinary words, and he wanted to renovate language by what he asked it to see.”

Interestingly, I noticed that very few haiku translations from Japanese to English seem to follow the 5-7-5 pattern. This Bashō haiku on aging is a great example:

growing old:

eating seaweed,

teeth hitting sand

 

The line pattern in this translation is 3-4-4. However, how could one change this without changing the conciseness of the piece? Without disrupting the elegance?

Later in the book, Hirshfield quotes Bashō as saying, “If you have three or four, or even five or seven extra syllables but the poem still sounds good, don’t worry about it. But if one syllable stops the tongue, look at it hard.”

Even the guy who created the form tells us not to stress over the precise form, but to go for the poetry of the language.

Lanoue’s book focuses on the work of Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), who built upon the artistic base that Bashō had started. Lanoue also includes many contemporary haiku written in the Issa style. Another important part of the haiku style is that “the most important part of the poem isn’t stated outright but gently implied,” as in this contemporary example by Greg Longenecker:

abandoned farm

the dandelions make

their own wishes

 

The elegance in this piece is in what is implied, not in what is directly stated. At the abandoned farm, there is nobody around to pick the dandelions and blow the seeds into the air and make wishes on them. The tone seems melancholy to me, and is implied rather than stated.

I realized that there is far more going on with haiku than I had ever been led to believe.

I discovered that Lanoue has a haiku website. At this website, I think Lanoue gives us the best definition of haiku for English speakers based upon what Bashō and Issa wrote in their haiku, and what they wrote about haiku. Lanoue defines haiku as “a one-breath poem that discovers connection.” When he discusses the 17 syllable, 5-7-5 form, he says,

“Japanese words for the most part are polysyllabic, consisting of multiple syllables. English, in contrast, has loads of one syllable words (“spring,” “rain” and “duck” for instance). For this reason, most haiku poets writing in English don’t follow the 5-7-5 syllable rule. Seventeen syllables of English could potentially add up to seventeen separate words, making the “haiku” too long, lessening its intensity.”

Lanoue also says that the reason haiku is taught in the 5-7-5 form so emphatically in our grade schools is because at that stage of learning, they are used in English-speaking schools to teach the concept of syllables to children. For some reason, I believe that our knowledge and appreciation of haiku never advances beyond that understanding, and so haiku is very misunderstood and underappreciated in America today.

I think I have a better understanding of the potential of haiku after reading these two books. Much thanks to Jane Hirshfield and David G. Lanoue for showing us the way.

And now that we have been shown the way, why don’t we all take a shot at using the loosened haiku guidelines suggested by Lanoue? Work on three concise lines. Remember the goal is “a one-breath poem that discovers connection.” Focus on that. If some of the lines have five, or seven, or five syllables, great…but don’t force it.

Feel free to post your haiku in the comments, or you can send them to me at writersforumeditor@gmail.com for compiling into another post in a month or so.

I’ll start. Here is a haiku I wrote one cold morning after seeing some dead oak leaves trapped in ice in a puddle.

fallen brown leaves
yesterday swimming
entombed this morning

 

Let’s see what you can do!

 

George T. Parker

Webmaster/Newsletter Editor


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction. 9.) Poetry.

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Member Poetry: A Christmas Mistake

Today’s contribution is a cheeky little holiday poem from WF member Dave Smith.

A Christmas Mistake

By: Dave Smith

Santa, Santa, where you be?

Ain’t no presents under my tree.

I was good, ‘cept once in September,

And maybe a few times I don’t remember.

Did you get stuck in some chim-in-ee

Droppin’ off gifts for kids like me?

Or did you plain forget?

You stupid fat old shit.

Another pudge with a stained white beard,

Wearing a red suit; now that’s just weird.

And flying deer? What a joke.

What you got in that pipe you smoke?

Bah Humbug I say to you

And tell you what I’m gonna do;

Gonna tell my friends you’re make believe,

A parent’s trick, to deceive

All good kids like me and Joe  

With all your silly Ho, Ho, Ho.

Just a sec – Mom is here – what’d you say?

Christmas is not today?

Oh.

Uhhh, Santa, Santa, please forgive me,

Tomorrow’s the day to check the tree.

Like I said before

I really do adore

Your fancy clothes and friendly deer

And hope you will soon be here

With your jolly self

And maybe an elf

Or two, or three

And lots of presents just for me.

Try to forget what I said about your weight

And stop tonight in the late late late

Of Christmas Eve

Because I really do believe.


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction. 9.) Poetry. Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Member Poetry: Kindness, by Linda Boyden

author linda boyden

Kindness

By Linda Boyden©2020

Kindness sits

on one side

of the freeway

the shriek of traffic

numbs his ears

a harsh wind

lashes his hair

stings his eyes

paralyzes his judgment

so he stays huddled

curved inward

shoulders quaking

 

Patience spots him.

Though she fears

the screech of traffic

the cruelty of metal

she takes it one lane at a time

until she reaches Kindness

gathers him

in her warm arms

talks softly

asks him to trust her

asks him to try

tells him she won’t

let him go it alone.

 

Arm in arm

they take

the first step.

 

Linda Boyden, author, storyteller, illustrator & poet

The Blue Roses from Lee & Low Books 2002, winner New Voices Award, Paterson Prize and Wordcraft Circle’s Book of the Year, 2003

Powwow’s Coming , Linda’s first illustrated book, from the University of New Mexico Press, 2007. Powwow’s Coming is included on Reading Is Fundamental‘s 2011 Multicultural Book List!

Giveaways, An ABC Book of Loanwords from the Americas, written & illustrated by Linda Boyden (University of New Mexico Press), 2010 “Giveaways”, winner of three Finalist awards from the 2011 International Book Awards, two Finalist Awards from the 2011New Mexico Book


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter. Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events.