Poetry Pantry: The Dead are Near Us

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Shared on Poetry Pantry at Poets United

The Dead are Near Us

We are never, ever alone, no
Because the dead are ever near us
Planted in the meadows
Dust scattered on the seashore

Or walking down the alleyway
Knocking over our garbage cans

May 31, 2015
sijo with zombie theme

I am a fan of the television series ‘The Walking Dead’, and this poem is an outgrowth of my zombie-addiction. I like the  image at the end of the zombie as a clumsy nuisance knocking over garbage cans rather than a horrifying destructive force.

The reason I like the sijo form is that it gives you more room to work with than in a haiku. I find the haiku very difficult to write well and it was only after writing many sijo that I finally managed to write haiku that I’m not ashamed of.

Korean sijo are written in three lines— because in the Korean alphabet three lines of the syllable length required would fit on the page. English sijo are usually written in six lines. Sometimes a solid block of six lines, sometimes with a space between each pair of lines, and sometimes as the one I have written above, with the first four lines in a block and the last two after a space.

This arrangement, which I borrowed from my favorite sijo book, puts the last two lines together because those lines are a turning, or counter-theme, or something unexpected, as well as the conclusion of the poem.

I tend to write sijo using a model poem— an old Korean sijo in English translation. I copy the model down, often in handwriting. I note how the model carries out the traditional sijo pattern and I count the syllables in the translation. When I write my own poem, I often have themes or keywords in mind. Sometimes I use some words or patterns from the model poem, sometimes not.

This is the model I used for the poem above:

In a valley where a stream flows,
I built a cottage on a ledge.
When I plough the soil under the moon
And lie down in the clouds there,

Even the sky and the earth seem to say,
Live and grow old along with us.

This is an anonymous poem, found in the book ‘Sunset in a Spider Web: Sijo Poetry of Ancient Korea’, adapted by Virginia Olsen Baron. As you can see I didn’t take much from the poem other than a lesson on how to construct sijo. No death, cremation of zombies in this poem. Sad, really.

 

A basic guide to writing sijo

How to find keywords in poems

frog

Look up. See the stars rating this post? For experimental purposes I’d like everyone who visits this post to rate it with at least one star. Please do NOT give five stars. Thank you.
It Wasn’t Me

i don’t know why the frog is green
i don’t know why the frog is dead
i didn’t kill it much the cat did
the cat ate half the frog
but not the legs
are you hungry?
i don’t know why
i don’t know how

Nissa Annakindt
Sep. 9, 2014

Finding Keywords in Poems
A Lesson for self-study

Some poets— especially those who have read Sandford Lyne’s ‘writing poetry from the inside out’— compose poems using keywords. I have used this method myself with some success.

But where do you find good keywords to use? Other than Mr. Lyne’s book, that is? One method is to find keywords in someone else’s poem.

This is how you do it. Get out a piece of paper— right now— and read through the poem ‘It Wasn’t Me’. Every time a word catches your attention, write the word down. On the paper.

Don’t pick out the ‘poetic’ words or the words you think a teacher would want you to write down. Write down the words that moved, interested or horrified YOU. There are no right or wrong answers that can be graded by someone else.

These should be single words, as this is a keyword exercise. Phrases will come in another lesson.

Try to get at least 4 keywords. Or eight, or 12. If you can get that many from such a short poem. If you have 5 or 9 words, look over your list and omit the weakest, least impactful word.

Get out your poetry notebook. If you don’t have one, run out and get one. Right now. A composition book works fine. Open your notebook and write at the top of a page ‘Keywords’. Then, underneath, write ‘It Wasn’t Me/Nissa Annakindt’. Underneath that write your keywords in groups of four.

Let the words ferment in your notebook for a month or more. Then, some fine day when you feel like writing a poem from keywords, open it up to your keywords page and select your keywords. It is perfectly fine to NOT use the keyword groups of four but instead to mix-and-match from the words on the page. You may also use 2 groups of keywords if that works better. But you might also go through your keyword lists and use the groups as they are written down.

You will want to assemble many, many groups of keywords for your poetry writing. You need not use keywords in every poem you assemble— for me the method doesn’t work as well for writing sijo— but when you do use them, it’s good to have a wide choice. So, let us try another poem— this time one NOT written by me, but by a Korean sijo poet who lived a long time ago, Song Soon.

Birds, do not blame the blossoms
For falling;
It is not their fault
That the wind scatters them.

And what is the good of chiding spring
Just as she is leaving?

Find and write down keywords from this poem as well. Since it doesn’t have a title, use the first line for your keyword notebook ‘headline’ for the keyword groups.

Have your keywords? Please post a comment with a group of keywords you found in one of these poems. For extra credit, post 2 keyword groups, one for each poem.

Shared on Poetry Pantry 283. Got a blog? Write poems? Share them on Poetry Pantry!


warning: commercial message follows.

OpiumCactusToday I checked on ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows’, my first poetry book. I’ve only made 10 sales since publication in 2011. So I’d like to ask any stray reader of the blog to do me a favor: could you share this link http://www.amazon.com/Where-Opium-Cactus-Grows-Annakindt/dp/0557939135  on your blog, Facebook or Twitter? (If you are rich, perhaps you’d consider actually buying a copy yourself?) My goal is to sell 10 more copies of this book.

tamburina danco/Fortnight for Freedom day 1

fortnightforfreedomspanish

Fortnight for Freedom— a time of fasting and prayer for the restoration of Religious Freedom in the USA.

Poem shared at Poetry Pantry #257 at Poets United (which is not, actually, an English football team).

poem                                                         translation
tamburina danco                              tambourine dance

en la pin-arbaro                                        in the pine woods
la fraulaj tamburinoj                                the unmarried tambourines
dancas kamparan dancon                       dance a country dance
kaj esperas                                                 and hope

sed la fraulaj                                               but the unmarried
tamburoj                                                     drums
vendas drogojn                                          sell drugs
al la pluveroj                                              to the raindrops
kaj tute ne                                                   and don’t at all
rimarkas                                                      notice
la tamburinojn                                           the tambourines


Notes:

The poem this week is in Esperanto. This was inspired by a suggestion in Sandford Lyne’s Writing Poetry From the Inside Out, that foreign-born poets translate the keywords into their own language. No, I am not a native of the mythical Esperantujo [Esperanto-land] nor is Esperanto my native language. But I love playing with words and I don’t always care what language I get them from.

The Esperanto poem contains a word play that cannot be translated. Esperanto uses a lot of affixes— suffixes and prefixes— to build words. One common affix is -in- which indicated female gender. So— hundo is dog, and hundino is a female dog.

The word for ‘tambourine’ is tamburino, which reminded me that the word for drum is tamburo. One could interpret the word tamburino as ‘female drum’ although the -in- in tamburino has nothing to do with female gender. But I took the interpretation of tamburino as female drum and ran with it.

Esperanto Information: http://www.esperanto.net/info/index_en.html

Free language lessons in Esperanto: http://en.lernu.net/


Fortnight for Freedom

fortnightforfreedomEN

I am a convert to the Catholic faith. (Yes, I know that gay women are supposed to LEAVE the Church, not join it. I’m independent that way.) And so when the Catholic bishops announce an annual period of prayer and fasting for religious freedom, and my Catholic internet buddies participate, I mark the occasion on my blog.

A lot of people don’t get why religious freedom is an issue for Catholics (and others) because many people don’t know what religious freedom is. There have been political figures who’ve called on Catholics and other Christians to change their basic beliefs and replace their Bibles with rewritten versions that conform to the politicians’ core beliefs. And yet they don’t admit that what they are doing erases the traditional concept of religious freedom.

You may agree or disagree with this concept— after all, thoughts are still free, since thoughts are hard to detect and punish. But if you want a little more info on Fortnight for Freedom, here is the link: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/

This blog will be covering the Fortnight for Freedom. I’m hoping to blog each day about it, and also include links to other people’s Fortnight for Freedom blog posts.


Poetic Resources:

New Poetic Market: Magdalena Lamont: Poetry from the Other Side is an online poetry ‘zine currently accepting submissions. Here is the submission information: http://linalamont.blogspot.com/p/submit-poems-here.html

Facebook page for Sijo Poetry: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sijo-Poetry/392044370990201

Goodreads poetry group Poetry Readers Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/28172-poetry-readers-challenge  Group encourages members to read and review 20 poetry books a year. If you have a poetry book of your own out, you perhaps know how vital it is to get the book reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon.com. This group makes it easier for that to happen.

socks are underwear, after all!

socksareunderwear
socks are underwear, after all!

eating spaghetti with a cattle prod
the small byzantine child asks
mother may i keep this fish head
it followed me home

& the mother
a neophyte carpet prostitute, says
yes, but only if you
drink your opium
all gone

(c) 1990 Nissa Annakindt

Shared on Poets United‘s Poetry Pantry #256


Back in the day when I and this poem were a lot younger, absurd poems came much easier to me. These days I have to work to be that weird. Back when I first started writing poetry seriously, I submitted a lot of poems to various poetry markets, and was published. This particular poem was published in HEATHENzine’s Aug/Sept 1990 edition.

For a number of years I didn’t submit poems, but I’m starting again. I’m planning to submit a group of poems to Scifikuest, which publishes science fiction and horror themed haiku, sijo and other minimalist forms.

Have you ever submitted poems to a magazine? It’s a good idea to try, I think. Not the big high-level markets like Poetry magazine, but the smaller ones that are more open to beginning and not-yet-published poets. I get a copy of the annual book Poet’s Market every few years. I then check out the web site for each magazine I’m considering submitting to. Sometimes their requirements change or they are not open for submissions during some months.


Poets— do you read poetry books? And do you review them on Amazon.com and/or Goodreads?

It ought to be a given— if you write poetry, you should read the work of other poets, and not just online. Not enough people buy poetry books these days, or read them from libraries. But how can we expect our own poetry to be valued when we don’t show that we value other poet’s work by reading their books?

In the modern world, any poet can self-publish a poetry book or chapbook using CreateSpace, Lulu, Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing, and other resources, and you don’t have to pay. But in order to get the books read, poets need to have their book reviewed at places like Amazon.com or Goodreads, and on people’s blogs. There is a group over at Goodreads that helps with that. It’s called Poetry Readers Challenge and group members have a goal of reading and reviewing 20 poetry books a year. I joined the group myself, and hope others will do the same.


And that’s My Poetic Life for this Sunday. How is your own poetic life going?

fly agaric/Scrivener as a Poet’s Tool

fly agaricfly agaric

this is a picture
of a mushroom
which is poison
it is however quite delicious
choose large ones for grilling
and grease the skillet well
& die

(c) 1990

Shared on Poetry Pantry #255 at Poet’s United.

Notes:

I call this one an ‘encyclopedia poem’ because I created it based on randomly opening a volume of my 1950s edition Encyclopedia Britannica. Doing this, I came across an illustrated page depicting a variety of mushrooms. The fly agaric was one of them, and the notes at the bottom of the page mentioned that the mushroom was poisonous.

I made the graphic of the poem using ‘Paint’ which is under the ‘accessories’ label in my computer. In addition to using it here, I shared it on my Twitter account and on my Facebook page. (Do feel free to retweet/share my graphic.)

Scrivener as a Tool for Poets

You may— or may not— know about Scrivener, a computer program for writers. I used it to create a place to store my poetry. I created a Scrivener project called Poetry. I created folders for each year in which I had written poetry. I created separate documents in these folders for each poem. Yes, even the haiku. The title of the poem is the title of the file. For haiku, which traditionally don’t have titles, I use the first line as a title.

Yesterday as I was sorting through my files thinking about what poems I could submit to some of the poetry markets, I realized I needed to code my poem titles so I knew which ones had been published. This is my code:

+ published in a self-published poetry book/chapbook
* published in a poetry magazine
~ blogged

So if ‘dangerous waters’ has been published in a poetry magazine and one of my books, and I shared it on one of my blogs, the title would be: +*~ dangerous waters, and I could see instantly that it had already been published and so cannot be submitted to markets that don’t accept previously published work.

One advantage of Scrivener is that it makes it absurdly easy to create a book for self-publication. I was able to format my ebook-chapbook ‘surly petunia’ just by pressing a few buttons and it was accepted by Smashwords with no formatting problems. I then submitted the same file to Kindle Direct Publishing and, again, no problems. The print version I think takes more work but I’ll have to look up what exactly I need to do to create the needed file for that.

When the Consolations of God are Small — A Sijo Poem

When the Consolations of God are Small
Job 15:28-29

The wicked dwell in desolate cities
Ready to become heaps
They are what they are
Neither shall their substance continue

But why must I come forth like a flower
Cut down in sight of His holy mountain?

9/6/2014

This is a sijo I wrote last year, using a random passage of the Old Testament as a poetry prompt. I used a Korean sijo by Kim Inhu (1510-1560) as a model, and the phrase in the poem ‘They are what they are’ was inspired by a similar line in Kim’s poem. Shared on Poetry Pantry #254 on Poets United

Catsong: for Niki

what if my heart is too long or too tall?
what if my cat is too light or too small?

this calico tabby is mine
no matter that her nails are too sharp

the chill moonlight is mine also
to collect in alabaster jars

Dec. 11, 2012

This sijo was written in honor of my elderly cat, Niki. She lived outdoors until the day she decided she didn’t like the other outdoor cats and insisted on coming into the house.  I used a poem by Shin Heum as a model, and that poem provided some elements, including the moonlight.

I shared this sijo on Poetry Pantry #143. I made the video last night, with the assistance of Niki the cat. I’ve thought for some time that YouTube gives poets a chance to give poetry readings on line, when we can’t manage to do ones in public.

 

Writing Sijo
The sijo is written in three lines, though in English each of the three lines is usually broken into two, to keep them from being too long. The first line usually states the theme, the second elaborates on it, and the third line contains a twist on the theme, or a resolution. The lines average 14 to 16 syllables, with the poem as a whole having about forty-one to forty-nine.

My method for writing a sijo is this: I copy out one classic Korean sijo (in English translation) and look at it, count the syllables and such. Then I pick something— usually from a book— to inspire my theme, as I did with the Bible passage in the first poem and my cat Niki in the second.

Challenge: write your own sijo poem. Use a random page from the first book to the left of your computer as a poetry prompt.

Facebook page Sijo Poetry: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sijo-Poetry/392044370990201

My new Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4813575.Nissa_Annakindt

becoming a dragonfly

IM000921

becoming a dragonfly

and this is my life
since becoming a dragonfly i float
in the windows of the nobles to steal
their jewels
which i give to the old priest
who feeds the poor
and gives them rosaries
made with his old bent hands
and Job’s tears

over all of this the emperor
watches and smiles
fearing only the assassination attempts
made by the moon
that is his life
which shines and sparkles
but cannot fly
or find solitude

May 13, 2015
free verse composed using keywords: dragonfly, jewels, emperor, moon
‘Job’s tears’ is a plant whose seeds have been used as rosary beads.

This poem is being shared on Poets United’s Poetry Pantry #252 Please stop by their site to view the other poems.

Notes:

Recently I purchased a couple of books on how to write poetry. I’ve been writing poetry seriously since 1988, but wanted to expand my knowledge. One of the books I got was Writing Poetry from the Inside Out by Sandford Lyne.  The book has its drawbacks— the author was into ‘spirituality’ in an annoyingly post-Christian way— but it has one useful technique for writing poetry, which is the use of keywords (which I’ve blogged about before.)

This poem is one I wrote using keywords from Lyne’s book. I must admit that, being me, I didn’t use one of the four-keyword groups Lyne provided but did some mix-and-match between groups.

I ended up with two major characters— the poet-become-dragonfly who becomes a jewel thief, and the emperor. The dragonfly has an association with an old and holy priest, while the emperor fears assassination attempts by the moon. (And in my poetic worlds, inanimate objects can assassinate you just as well as anyone else can.)


 

surly petunia

Since last week I got 2 new downloads of my poetry book ‘surly petunia’ on Smashwords. No sales on Kindle and no reviews either place, though.

surly petunia on Smashwords (free): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/480237

surly petunia on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NZ96EYE

Do YOU have a poetry book available? Please feel free to add one link to it in your comment.