Thursday, December 15, 2016

Healing Haiku

Tabatha rounds up lots of wonderful poems today at The Opposite of Indifference. Thanks, Tabatha!

I loved the idea of #haikuforhealing that I learned about last week on Poetry Friday. I am not a tweeter or Twitter user, but I did try to hold myself open for some haiku thoughts this past week.

Lessons and carols at St. Paul's Chapel in Concord offered a healing place, indeed. Also, perhaps the snow that has arrived here in New Hampshire, whitewashing everything, can be thought of as healing. Certainly, watching the thankful birds and squirrels brings one back to basics - the world goes on.

lessons and carols
certain, true, comforting–
soul anchor

soften my edges
as snow pillows our landscape
that I may receive

sunflower feeder
fresh snowfall–
chickadees converge

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Haiku News

Jone has the roundup over at Check it Out .  She invites us to participate in a New Year Post Card Exchange!

Our local daily newspaper features a haiku poem inspired by current news. Sometimes I succumb to the challenge. Ordinarily, I write haiku with the "less is more" attitude and don't count out syllables totaling seventeen. But I adhere to the "rule" for these newspaper submissions. Perhaps the editor won't count it as a haiku if it doesn't fit the formula, I reason.

Here are some I have submitted, the last just this week. The first haiku was accepted last year.

Life jackets from refugees escaping violence in Syria and elsewhere lay strewn on the shores of Lesbos, Greece. (Photo: EPA)
life vests flung on shore
they step into Europe’s arms -
perilous journey

wave-tossed to Lesbos
blistered steps through Vienna -
flight to a future

America's bridge
to be closed to immigrants
exit lane open

On a different note, these haiku reflect our current New England landscape.

moon on snow
branches in silhouette

grass blades
genuflect to winter–
dormant green power

And one for the Christmas season paired with a painting by artist Harold Copping.

angels speak
stars quiver, mortals quake
hope births

Archangel Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds ~ Harold Copping artist {c. 1920's}:
 Copyright Joyce Ray. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 25 - October 1 Banned Book Week

This week I’m reading The Lorax, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach to observe Banned Book Week. Yes, I’ve read this Dr. Seuss title before, but must admit that somehow I missed these two Roald Dahl books. Banned Book Week offers the opportunity to catch up!

Dr. Seuss’s classic story tells of the utter destruction of Truffula trees and its devastating effect on the environment.  In 1989, it was banned by a school district in California on the basis that it “criminalized the foresting industry.” Children might think logging was bad. But shouldn’t children be allowed to read and form their own opinions? What about Farewell to Shady Glade by Bill Peet, a book beloved by my own children? Did anyone challenge this book that showed the effects of development on the environment?

A Colorado library banned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for this reason - it embraced a “poor philosophy of life.” The book was called racist due to the factory workers’, the Oompa Loompas, skin color. So Dahl changed the description making them white in a revised edition.

In the early 1990s, James and the Giant Peach was banned from an elementary school in Texas because it contained curse words such as “ass.” In 1986 some religious groups in Wisconsin took exception to a scene where a spider licks her lips. They argued this scene could be sexual and the book was banned.

What are some of your favorite children’s books that have made the banned books list? Exercise your freedom this week and read a banned book!

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Eight Step Ekphrastic Poem

Venice Facade, William Merritt Chase, 1878
This dormant season is perfect for germinating poems, isn't it? I've been germinating a poem for the Winter Poem Swap. Tabatha offered a Monet painting for participants to use as a prompt if we chose to write an ekphrastic poem. I love this sort of challenge and, for me, the process is definitely akin to germination. It can take weeks! I offer this post as a peek into my process, which is of course not the only process.

The poem (not the Winter Swap :Poem) that evolved from living with this painting  by William Merritt Chase is very different from anything I usually write! But for me, that's the gift of allowing a piece of art to inspire me. I often find myself in new territory.

Shuttered Windows
         response to Venice Facade

Behind shuttered triptych windows,
a mystic ushers in her lion.
The cool still air caresses silence
like a nun dusting a sanctuary.
She brushes tangles from his mane,
and with the flask filched in her novice days,
bestows a drop of oil.
This ritual is all that remains.
No crucifix, no candle.
Just jumbled faded tarot cards
and incense wafting away the smell of age.
She covers her head with turquoise gauze,
gazes into a ball and chants
to lovers lost and the lover found.
Her lion reclines on a cot having
discarded his hair shirt.

                       Joyce Ray © All rights reserved

So here's my process. 

Step 1: Plant the seed image. Print image and post prominently so my subconscious can begin work.


Step 2: With pencil, sketch image in a sketch book (it doesn't matter if drawing is not your forte! Writing is!)

I sketched Venice Facade at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine.







Step 3: Try stream of consciousness writing about the image. 

Or record words and phrases that rose to surface while drawing. The following notebook images illustrate work on last year's Winter Poem Swap.






Step 4: STUDY ORIGINAL IMAGE, looking for clues and missed details. Ask, what is the artist trying to say? How can I bring my experience to the image?


Step 5: Begin fitting phrases together and watch for the poem seedling to peek through. Sometimes I do this in my sketchbook, sometimes on laptop.  REJOICE when the seedling pokes its pale face through the page to greet you!


Step 6: Type a draft. No judgement zone! Try different poetic forms and free verse. In which direction is the draft stretching?


Step 7: Read the draft aloud.


Step 8: Revise for sound, excessive words, word choice. Strengthen the poem seedling so it can stand alone.

I’d like to know how others go about responding to art.

Tara has the Round-up over at A Teaching Life . Drop in. There may or may not be other ekphrastic poems today, but there'll be poems galore!