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Showing posts from January, 2017

MAKING A FIST: Naomi Shihab Nye

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Today this poem, f rom the Poetry Foundation website. Read more poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, and about her life and work, there. Making a Fist     We forget that we are all dead men conversing with dead men.                                                                   —Jorge Luis Borges For the first time, on the road north of Tampico , I felt the life sliding out of me, a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear. I was seven, I lay in the car watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass. My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin. “How do you know if you are going to die?” I begged my mother. We had been traveling for days. With strange confidence she answered, “When you can no longer make a fist.” Years later I smile to think of that journey, the borders we must cross separately, stamped with our unanswerable woes. I who did not die, who am still living, still lying in the backseat behind all my q

Could This Really Happen? And A Poem

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Today, a look back at Tony Hoagland's wishful and wonderful Harper's Magazine essay Twenty Little Poems That Could Save America . I go back to this when I want to remember  and reaffirm that no matter the language of the day, we are not just consumers and not just taxpayers. What would your list of twenty poems include? Today mine would surely include Muriel Rukeyser's "Islands," bitter and optimistic, hopeless and hopeful, with the glittering surface that attracts and obscures right at the center. Islands O for God's sake they are connected underneath They look at each other across the glittering sea Some keep a low profile some are cliffs The bathers think islands are separate like them

Ronna Bloom: A Poem

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Ronna Bloom ARS POETICA I write poems for money –– where the giving over is immediate, before the fact of the poem, the hill-climb of heart, the pillage of cells, the language eruption. It is all and only in response. The conversation with silence tapped out like an invisible ink, held to light. The cash – a dollar or a thousand – simply the glow I'm held to; the person saying: ‘Do it for me. Here is my door ­–– will you open it? Hold it open for me to enter? Will you leave me there alone?’ When the poem is written and I am gone, it is in the hands of the lover, as a lover leaves another behind with the satisfaction and grief of their own life, shared, but taken back ultimately into their skin. It was always yours. I only held it up to the light, I only saw it flickering, caught it like a moth in my hand and gave it back. Ronna Bloom (from Queen's Quarterly by permission of the author) Ronna Bloom is a

The Poet is IN: Ronna Bloom and the Rx for Poetry

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For several years now the poet Ronna Bloom has worked as Poet in Residence at Mount Sinai Hospital , dispensing poetry to patients and staff in need of what poems offer. I chatted with Ronna about her work in this program: how it came to be and how it unfolds in her own and others' lives.   SUSAN GILLIS: Often I come across references to you being busy with "the hospital gig." Could you explain what "the hospital gig" is? How did it begin -- was it an existing position, or did you (or someone else) propose it and convince somebody that it would fly? RONNA BLOOM: I created a job at University of Toronto called “poet in community” nine years ago, after leaving my job as a therapist in counseling services because poetry was calling more loudly.  Before I left I would go into staff meetings — you know how staff meetings can be sometimes intense — and because I had to say something that was making me nervous, I brought in a poem to start. They all k