Thursday, August 31, 2023

Enjambment Practice

 Hello Poetry Friends,

It is hard for me to believe that it's time to type S. E. P. T. E. M. B. E. R. Wow! But, here we are knocking on the door of autumn. 

The Inklings are responding to a challenge from Margaret this month: 

 "Jack Bedell is a former Louisiana Poet Laureate. His poem “Ghost Forest” uses the poetic element of enjambment. Write a poem on any topic using enjambment.

Here is the Poetry Foundation definition: "

I confess that line breaks are something of a mystery to me. I just put them where it feels right. Enjambment requires a tad more purpose than that. My poem with attempted enjambment is from last week's inspiration from Amy Ludwig VanDerwater to students, find something delightful.

Photo by Linda Mitchell

Today's word poem comes from a recent Poetry Unbound episode (number 22) in which Padraic O'Touma interviews Aimee Nezhukumatahil. She said in the interview about her love of writing about nature: "Mother Nature is the ultimate poet. I'm just taking notes."

For more peeks at Inkling takes on enjambment see:

Thank you, Ramona, at Pleasures from the Page for hosting our round-up this week. I loved your slice-of-life piece with photos of your grands. How fun!

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Exquisite Corpse with Michelle Kogan

Hello Friday!

The talented and busy teacher lady, Michelle Kogan, asked if I'd swap lines for an exquisite corpse poem inspired by some of the clunkers I shared several weeks ago. 

Sure! I said...I'm a busy teacher lady too. Let's see what we can do with a tiny bit of time and ingenuity.

I promised Michelle I'd grab some art to illustrate this post--it's not quite a perfect match for this poem. But, I find butterfly and collage people super fun to make.

"Roots" and "A Few Thoughts." Mixed media collage.Linda M.

Butterfly People Family. Linda M. mixed media collage

The word on today's padlet is AUGUST!  

Thank you to the immensely kind and talented Linda Baie at Teacher Dance for hosting this week's round-up!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

For my nieces

Hello Friday Poetry Friends

I love to find an art museum anywhere I travel. Hubby and I recently visited the de Young fine arts museum of San Francisco where I happily searched for art with embedded words. 

A gallery that took my breath away was Kehinde Wiley's An Archeology of Silence. You may know Wiley from his famous portrait of President Barack Obama.

These photos do not do justice to Wiley's grand-scale works of art

My nieces come by way of Ethiopia. Being Black in Ethiopia is literally nothing to write home about. But, being an adopted daughter of an American white mother, my sister-in-law, is. My nieces take the brunt of navigating African Americaness for our family. It's a lot for anyone to manage. I admire their strength and grace as they do and we all learn from mistakes and missteps as much as anything. Thankfully, there's a lot of love.

When I entered Wiley's exhibit I wished my nieces with me. The astounding beauty and reverence he brings to his art is something I didn't even realize I needed. But, I do. 

From Wiley's website: "Los Angeles native and New York based visual artist, Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, among others, Wiley, engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban, Black and Brown men found throughout the world."

Wiley primarily invites me to see through his eyes to experience joy, grief, and curiosity. I was awed into actual silence as I searched for words in his larger-than-life paintings and sculpture. All of the larger-than-life pieces were spot-lit in a very dark gallery that felt holy.

My nieces are now young adults. I hope we can someday visit Kehinde Wiley's work together. I would love to know their impressions. His art is a beautiful meeting place for us.

I found a poem in a gallery placard at the Silence of Archeology exhibit.

piercing practice figures
claiming Black
value reveals sanctity 

Freestanding darkness
inspires reverence
and, admiration.


Today's padlet poem is based on the collage of Michelle Miller's 'Head Games. 

Thank you, Molly, at Nix the Comfort Zone, for hosting our round-up this weekend. 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

It's My Birthday!

Hello Friends,

I'm so glad I get to share poetry with you on my birthday! At my age, it's at least as good as cake or ice cream.

Happy Birthday to my birthday twins (you know who you are)It's fun getting to share today with you.

The word for padlet today is twin. I'm keeping up with ekphrastic poetry about fine art I viewed this summer that had words embedded in the art. The artwork that this poem is inspired by Rosemari Bernardi's photograph. She's inspired to capture images of antiquated medical specimens. She calls these fragile jars "poetry of forgotten spaces." 

Thank you, Tabatha, Opposite of Indifference for hosting the round-up this week.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Learning the Names

Hello Poetry Friday Friends,

I am back from a trip to San Francisco with my sweetie. 

This trip gave me great opportunities for writing to Catherine's August prompt:

        "Robin Wall Kimmerer teaches us that “It's a sign         of respect and connection to learn the name of         someone else, a sign of disrespect to ignore it…         Learning the names of plants and animals is a         powerful act of support for them. When we learn         their names and their gifts, it opens the door to         reciprocity.” Look closely at the flowers, birds,         trees, or other natural features in your neighborhood         (or if you’re traveling, a new-to-you species)         and write a poem about your chosen species.         Free choice of format."

A priority visit for me in the San Francisco area was Angel Island. I taught Social Studies for years before becoming a school librarian. It amazed me that I only learned of Angel Island long after I had started teaching. I wanted to see the place for myself.

Angel Island is the Ellis Island of our American West. From 1910 until World War II, it detained immigrants, mostly from Asia, until their immigration status cleared them access to the mainland. For many, Angel Island was a prison for long stretches of time during an intense period of xenophobia. Some immigrants never made it to the mainland. During World War II the island held prisoners of war and interned Japanese Americans as well as diseased and quarantined patients.

What fascinates me about the barracks at Angel Island is poetry. Dozens and dozens of poems in Asian script, mostly Chinese, cover the walls. The US Immigration Service saw the writing as graffiti and painted the walls over and over again. The poetry always returned.

Much of the poetry is written by men and relays homesickness, desperation, and despair at being held behind fences and bars after a long, journey to America. Translations of many poems were provided for readers.

My photos

Once I arrived at the US Park office and paid my entrance fee, I kind of froze. I wanted to see the historical aspect of this place but the deeply personal experience of those connected to Angel Island isn't mine exactly.

Let me explain...

Three of my children are adopted from Asia. At the time of bringing my children into our family, my only motivation was to love a child as my create a family. As the kids grow, we continuously work through the joys and pains of interracial adoption.

Through the years of my family's experience, I've learned that not all experience is mine to share. My children's thoughts, feelings, and experiences are theirs and harm can be done if I don't respect how they wish to hold those very personal threads in their lives. I'm keenly aware of this as I enter the Angel Island barrack museum.

I decided that my visit would be one of tribute to my children's ancestors. I would hold them in my thoughts as I walked through the museum.

By the time I was ready to leave, I had lots of photos on my phone and lots of conversation in my head with unknown ancestors as I came across a California Poppy so bright and smiley at my feet. How dare this flower look so happy inside the fence of such grim history?

I used one of the Chinese poetry forms described in the museum (4 lines of 2 couplets. 5 or 7 syllables per line) as well as some of the medicinal properties of the California poppy discovered by Native Americans (googled by me) to create a cluster of poems.

For more Inkling takes on Catherine's spectacular prompt, please see:

Reading to the Core
Reflections on the Teche
My Juicy Little Universe
Nix the Comfort Zone
A(noth)er Year of Reading (Also, our Poetry Friday host)

The word on the padlet this week is RIPPLE.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023


Hello Sojourners,

I chose the focus word for this month's journey, turning when the words to the Shaker Hymn, Tis a Gift to be Simple were recently an earworm.

While walking and talking with my friend we had to mind smoke from Canadian wild fires.

A friend and I attended a funeral together and found ourselves discussing church afterward. Each of us has fallen out of the habit of regular face-to-face worship since the pandemic. Our children are adults and the responsibility of exposing them to weekly attendance has lessened. The truth is, I’ve come to enjoy church online. 

In fact, I love it. During online church, I either fold laundry or do very simple paper-crafting.  I don't fall asleep. I don't get distracted by others...I listen, pray, and reflect.

The thing is, I've always believed or been taught to believe that church is the community of the faithful. This includes relationships between church members.

My friend feels similarly. We talked long about this. We never reached any conclusions. But, it felt good to talk about this. She understands my awkward way of spinning out details and questions that make up my thinking on any topic. She doesn't necessarily want to fix the situation or give an answer. She walks with me through it and understands that I'm discerning. I know at some time in the future, she'll circle back to the topic to see if I've any new thoughts. I love this about my friend--gentle accountability.

Maybe because of the church talk, I found myself humming the tune to, 'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free...' Indeed, I felt freer after talking things out with my friend. When I couldn't remember more of the lyrics, I searched Google, and in true Linda fashion fell down a rabbit hole of interesting details about the religious sect.

As it turns out, ex-Shakers in the 1800s possibly shared this tune with the public when performing Shaker songs and dancing. There was money to be made from curiosity about this group back then. The tune was then picked up much later by Aaron Copeland to score Martha Graham's famous ballet, Appalachian Spring

    'To turn, turn will be our delight
    'til by turning, turning we come round right.'

This is when I understood -- my discerning process is what my spirit needs to do right now. And, I decided 'turning' would be the focus word for this month's SJT. 

Turning is natural, turning is OK. I'm not going to give up or run away to join the Shakers (they are no longer in existence). I'm going to let go of the worry about what is right and just be right by practicing what I've learned. 

This, of course, will include some face-to-face church time when I’m ready and it's right. It will also include online time. I’m fortunate this is possible for me. I'm also fortunate that my girlfriend walked and talked with me on our spiritual journey. 

What are your thoughts this month?