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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Renga Journals

Remember those small books I featured three posts back? I decided to use one of them as a daybbook, to accompany the larger, exquisitely beautiful one given to me Carole Bessant Haymon. The little books seemed perfect for a daily renga-like record or meditation, so I began this morning.

This is my bedroom window, with my little notebook waiting on the sill.



Here's the first entry. Don't worry, I'll type it out for you, too, since my handwriting is so awful.



Jan. 10

Rain falls freezing into
a shawl of
silken crystals. Shining.

The second part, on the next 2 pages, in two lines, is cradled in my lap.




Gray limbs stare
at me through the window.

And for my final entry of the day, this momentary conclusion:




What now? they ask.
I strike a match
and kindle the stove's fire.

Anyone interested in trying this? Using such a small space really focuses your attention. To the first poets who respond with a three part Renga, I will mail them one of these handmade books!

12 comments:

karenh said...

Renga

Mist rises from the lake
like a mystery
in front of me.

mountains disappear
mystically.

in fog or clouds, not sure which …
now the sun shines them
from obscurity.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Karen, thank you. Wonderful. Where can I send you the little notebooks? (nclaureate@ao.com)? I especially love fog or clouds, not sure which, and the last three lines. K.

Mindy said...

Deep clouds hover
Over mountaintops.
Full moon, lost.

I miss your anxious lips,
Your eyes.

Dim lit world,
A cool darkness
Settles in my bones.


I really enjoyed writing this, it is much harder than I thought.

karenh said...

Thanks Kathryn. Will send you my address.

Regarding my little renga above: I had jotted down the first 6 lines in my notes a long time ago and thought them too trite to include in a "real" poem. So it was kind of fun using them like this and adding the last 2 lines off the top of my head last night.

I can see how this form could be a nice warm up for getting the juices flowing! Maybe I can turn some of my other random notes into little rengas. Thanks for the idea, Kathryn.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Mindy, thank you, thank you. I like your blog a lot, too, and plan to add it to my list. As with Karen, could you email me your address so I can send you a little book?
The line Full moon, lost...haunts me. I'll look for more of your poems. K

James Hogan said...

The boy at the altar
received blessings
from the church.

He leaves tomorrow
for war.

Tomorrow he rides
open waves,
blown by God's breath



=============
It's junior high, it's going off to war, but here is another image I've been getting from biblical inspiration. Yesterday's homily focused on how the original Hebrew of Genesis could be reinterpreted into today's language, and the line that struck me most was how the wind over the ocean was God's breath, how God breathed life into the waters.

That image took me to an old country church I'd once been to, where the only 18 year old boy in the congregation was being prayed over by the church elders as he prepared to leave for Iraq. It was breathtaking in so many ways.

So, still in the pew, I started fusing those images, and thank goodness you had a little poetry assignment for me this morning. I needed to start letting that out. I'm hoping there's still room to work more...

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

James, what a powerful little poem. Thank you for it, and for the commentary, which is moviing indeed.
love, K

Chihuahua Grande said...

I did an activity based on this with my small group of 8th grade language arts students. I won't fill up your comments space with all of them, but I promised them that I would share a couple. They took some liberties with the number of lines and whatnot, but I figured that was okay. :) They had a lot of fun with this...thank you for sharing.

Poem #1
I feel the heat of the temperature
Rising up in the air.
Losing my life to death.

It's burning hot.
I feel like my skin is at the point of turning crispy.

The heat is about to kill me.

I'm dying.
It's an emergency - someone call for help.
I do not feel well at all.

My skin is turning red.

And I'm starting to look like one of those little, red devils
With a forked tail.


Poem #2
The heat has come on and interrupted
All of the students in this room
Who are trying to think.

And disrupting thinking
Forfeits thoughts of doing.

They have lots of thoughts,
But people walking down the hallway,

Talking always,
Giggles, jokes, thoughts and ideas.

Thinking is hard.
Thinking makes your brain explode.

Remembering things would
Break my break-y brain.



Poem #3
Sitting in a room
So cold
Like it's snowing.

My chair is so cold
That I can't feel my bottom.

My chair is so hard
Like a rock!

My desk is frozen solid
Like an ice sculpture.

I wish I had a shaking chair.
Then it wouldn't feel so cold.

And it's so cold, I can't feel my bones.

I vibrate out of control.
I break into a pile of bones.



(Please note that it really was not that hot or that cold in the classroom...I am not trying to cook or freeze our youth.)

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Oh my goodness, Chihuahua Grande, what a treasure trove, what a spirit lifter as the winter night settles in.! Your 8th students can fill up all my comment space, as far as I'm concerned. Tell me how to reach you. See second comment, and I'll send your students some little handmade journals. I'm going to post all of these, ok? Yes, it sounds like they had fun with this! And taking liberties is fine. Go with the flow....of a poem!

Nancy said...

Mother of the bride
waits alone in her front seat,
tissue in her sleeve.

She sits all alone,
stands at her cue to look back,
and catches her breath:

The two she loves most
walk arm-in-arm down the aisle,
their smiles glazed by tears.

Nancy Posey

Nancy Simpson said...

Hi Kay, I enjoyed the Renga Journals post and all the comments. It inspired me.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Nancy P, thanks for your renga, and Nancy S. it's always good to find you in the comment section! I'll be posting these sometime next week. With photos.