Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

Are you a word freak? Here is a short quiz to test yourself. Be honest–no one is looking! 🙂

1) Do you have a favorite word?

2) When you’re asked #1, do you have to stop and ask, “Favorite word, as in how it sounds? Or favorite word, as in how it looks?” For example, “egregious” sounds awesome, but looks gross. “Glimmer” looks gorgeous, but is kind of blah in the ear.

3) Do you have a most-hated word? And can it change from year to year? For instance, I’m in a writing program right now, and the next person who says “trope” to me is taking a big risk.

4) Do you know, and even use, any of the nonsense words, like “brillig” or “snicker-snack,” from “Jabberwocky”?

5) Do you rarely have to say “lalala…dum-de-dum” when you’re singing along to your iPod? Do you always know almost all the words?

6) When you come to a grammatically incorrect lyric, do you ever correct it as you sing? I mean, no one corrects “I can’t get no satisfaction,” but what about “I’m not willing to lay down and die, because I am an innocent man”?

7) Have you ever painted a room a color like “Pool Party” or “Amethyst Haze,” just because you love the name?

8 ) Do you steal great lines from your favorite movies and use them in your own life? “Frankly, my dear,” you might say when someone points out there are 1,000 calories in that slice of cheesecake, “I don’t give a damn.”

9) Do you ever write down your wishes, as if that gives them reality and power? Do you sometimes refuse to speak your fears out loud? Do you have your own “He-who-must-not-be-named?”

10) Fill in your own Word Freak Truth here. Chances are, if you’re a Word Freak, you probably didn’t have to take this quiz to know it.

If you answered “Yes” to five out of the ten questions, you’re probably a word-lover, at least.

Six or seven “Yes” answers, and you’re definitely a member of the club!

Eight or more? We’re best friends and just don’t know it yet!

So, come on…share your Number 10 with me! What quirky thing do you do that proves you belong to this club? I can’t wait to hear!

Read Full Post »

Today at lunch, one of my best writing buddies and I were talking about joy. Specifically, how to get more of it into lives that have become so busy, budgets that have become so tight, and families that have grown and changed and sometimes separated.

We talked about the little pleasures from the past, the moments when we’ve felt most at ease with our worlds and with ourselves. We mentioned floating on a raft in the Gulf of Mexico. Long walks with something corny on the iPod. Cooking up something wicked in the kitchen (this was my friend, not me…lol). Making silly things we aren’t even very good at, like Christmas ornaments, posters, ceramics, macrame.

And then I mentioned poetry.

She’s polite, but her eyes got wide. Poetry? I’m sorry. I know it sounds impossible. Isn’t poetry something you slave over in school? But I can’t help it. I’m a geek that way. My parents were both writers, and they both created beautiful poetry. They shared their favorite poems with my sister and me even before we could read. They quoted the greats when they wanted to give advice. “Ah, love, let us be true to one another…” “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter…”

And we got hooked. I still find wisdom, beauty and consolation in the poems I love. They give me much the same feeling I get from a really good romance. Here’s what Percy Shelley said about poetry: “It strips the veil of familiarity from the world, and lays bare the naked and sleeping beauty…”

Isn’t that what we want from a book? Don’t we want a writer who can help us see our worlds through fresh eyes? Don’t we want to awake anew to the beauty that is a part of everything, but we’ve begun to take it for granted? Don’t we want to remember what that first rush of falling love feels like…that first coming together in wondrous intimacy?

Of course, I also want to make silly things and play with paints, like a preschooler. The picture at the beginning of this post is my beloved collection of hand-painted mugs–hand-painted by me, a woman who has absolutely zero artistic talent, at one of those do-it-yourself pottery places. I’ve made five so far, the first back in 2004. Each one has one of my favorite quotes on it. So far, I’ve got

“Margaret, are you grieving?” from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poignant “Spring and Fall”
“I’ll come to thee by moonlight,” from Alfred Noyes’ tragic ballad, “The Highwayman”
“I am half sick of shadows,” from Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott”
“Yet we will make him run,” from Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”
“The seven stars go squawking, like geese about the sky,” from Auden’s “As I Walked Out One Evening”

They look like a pre-schooler’s work, and yet I cherish every one. I remember the fun I had making them, with my friends, my sister, my daughter… And I remember each poem, and the joy it has brought me through the years. In fact, I think it’s time to make another, because every set of coffee mugs should have at least six, don’t you think?

Any suggestions for the next quote? Anyone out there a poetry geek, too? If you don’t have any poetry to share, I’d still love to hear where in this hectic world you still can find nuggets of joy. I just heard from my friend while I was writing this post, and she reports that she’s out in the pool, floating on a raft and refusing to let anything get her down. That makes me happy. Or, as Shakespeare would say, “But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, all losses are restored, and sorrows end.”

Read Full Post »

My father used to tell us, “Everyone in the world is either Irish or wishes he were.” I was a kid, so I believed it. It didn’t take me long to discover that everyone values his own heritage that same way, but I still secretly think it’s super cool to be Irish. 🙂

So, in honor of this day, which of course has a special sparkle for me, here is a list of my favorite Irish things!


1) The music. Someone once said of the Irish, “All their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.” I’m the corniest person on the planet, so I love a good tear-jerker song. Try listening to Bing Crosby sing “The Isle of Innisfree,” and you might see what I mean. If you’ve ever been away from your home and your people, you’ll cry at that one, or your tear ducts are broken. How about “The Fields of Athenry” or “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen”? Sinead O’Connor singing “Molly Malone.” Christy Moore singing “Nancy Spain.” Anyone doing “Danny Boy.” Even while they’re tearing out your heart, you’re hitting the “repeat” button! Don’t like to cry? Hmmmm…you must not be Irish! 😉

2) The Dingle Peninsula in Western Ireland. This is what heaven looks like (as the song said). The picture here is of my daughter in a magical little cove called Slea Head. If you get a chance to go, do it. The Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, Lisdoonvarna…if you can, stay in an absolutely charming little B&B called Castlewood House, where they serve breakfast that was made by the angels.

3) The words. The irreverent definition of blarney is the ability to tell a man to go to hell in such a way that he looks forward to the trip. Whatever you call it, words fall from Irish tongues like fairy dust. Think of their wonderful blessings: “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back.” And “May you be buried in a coffin made from the wood of a hundred-year-old tree that I shall plant tomorrow.”
And when they turn their words to poetry…to the lyrical celebration of nature, of life, of love, of fear and innocence… that is heaven, too. Yeats is my favorite Irish poet, and these are two of his images that I love the best:

From “Sailing to Byzantium”:
“An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing”

From “Song of Wandering Aengus”:
“And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.”

Ooops… I’m suddenly realizing that three things isn’t enough! What about their gorgeous actors (Liam Neeson!), their art (The Book of Kells), their plays (Pygmalion!), their novels (Maeve Binchy), their courage, their beer and their history? But I mustn’t go on forever, so I’ll leave you with the Irish blessing I love best.

May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.

Read Full Post »