Sunday, April 24, 2011

back to letters

and while it wasn't the most holiday appropriate film choice, we watched letters from iwo jima today.  and wept. a lot. the sadness is practically insurmountable if you really take into account not only the moments from that time, that week, even the day of the attack, and examine both sides.  but also, if you look at it from just the human perspective.  the way each side, each man, felt at the end of each day, apart from their homes and families, their loves and lives.  the way each hand held a pen one moment, writing letters home, then next moment holding a different kind of pin.  and so it comes back to letters today.  the way they, in this instance, have provided us with a way into the hearts of minds of so many that nothing else could have ever done.  no retelling, no recollection could have ever come close to capturing.

the lesson this day for me:  never lose sight of the worth of words, fully spelled and written in long-hand (or even typed might do).  never hold them too close, nor let them stray too far.  stars and compass needles. words are always a way back to who we were, who we want to be, who we want to be near.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

what rhymes with war?

last fall, while my mr. was overseas, i began working on a project (both for myself and for my last graduate school component: teaching a seminar) that dug into women and their poetic perspectives on war, specific to contemporary conflicts (last 20 years or so). i was surprised by how few women's perspectives i found. more than a little surprised really. more like disheartened. however,during my search i came across four books that affected me more than i can say:

Stateside by Jehanne Dubrow
Clamor by Elyse Fenton
Get Some by Sonja Yelich
Ruin by Roberta Lowing

these poetry collections are, how can i aptly describe them, powerful, moving, brilliant and at moments terrifying. what is most apparent is the way they process the journey: of being overseas, of remaining on the shore in wait, and of living through the conflicts in an incredible way. and while i don't necessarily recommend immersing yourself in a project like this if your loved ones are currently involved in one of the on-going conflicts (bad idea), i do recommend all of these as phenomenal.

read my Santa Fe Writer's Project review of Stateside here. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

would we still write letters? send them in the post?

"Within seven weeks of the President's death, Jacqueline Kennedy received more than 800,000 condolence letters. Two years later, the volume of correspondence would exceed 1.5 million letters. For the next forty-six years, the letters would remain essentially untouched".

deeply affected by this, i started to think. if faced with a similar horrific event, how would our nation react? reading an article about this text the point was raised: given this age of technology would americans write? would they walk their tears and distress to the mailbox, or would social media prevail? would the nation tweet, text, facebook their grief? and if so, what does that say for us? for the future of writing? for the future of the human connection? what does that say about how we live? not to be morose, but if we don't have time for letters, cards, postcards, handwritten moments shared with those we care about, what do we have time for?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

a kennedy, a reminder, a poet?

last night i started watching The Kennedys miniseries that began last week.  forever fascinated by their family since i first watched JFK in middle-school, my intrigue has peaked again.  obviously this current biopic series has taken some historical liberties (otherwise why the snub by the history channel?), but i am still fascinated.  especially in the wake of yesterday's budget-crisis catastrophe (disappointment).  and especially given my own foray into the political world during college and after (i favor poetics over politics. all the slyvia plath in the world couldn't make me as disheartened as politics can). so what pleasant surprise did i stumble upon last night in the wee hours?  this: caroline kennedy a poet?  just released, her collection She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems.  now i have no idea what her poetic eye is like, or even if she wrote any of the text in this anthology, but how could i not order it?  so i did.  and i am excited.  kennedy verse?  could be amazing.  interested?  check out this story on abc news: 'She Walks in Beauty' Poems Selected by Caroline Kennedy

loved that she said this (which i read on galleycat):   

“One of the reasons why I worked on this book is because so many people think of poetry as a solitary art form; one poet writing alone and the reader far away. But, I think what we all see here today is that poetry can really be of value for a community … And since poems are meant to be heard, reading a poem really starts a conversation.”

Monday, April 4, 2011

april showers bring poems, flowers

it is hard to believe it is already april.  and while i love to see the azaleas in full bloom, and the blush of spring everywhere, i can't get over how fast the months pass us by. in celebration of poetry month, aside from trying to write and write and write, i thought i would mention some poetry collections that i think everyone should pick up right now! so what's on your bookshelf now, the poems you can't put down?  here are some of the books taking over my office, that i am making my way through:

Souvenirs of a Shrunken World by Holly Iglesias
No Rattling of Sabers: An Anthology of Israeli War Poetry translations by Esther Raizen
Thirteen Departures From the Moon by Deema K. Shehabi
You & Yours by Naomi Shihab Nye
Wreckage by Ha Jin

i guess much of what i read is influenced by where my mind is these days. still wondering where the end to all this international conflict lies, i am still heavily influenced by war poetry.  still heavily influenced by the way these conflicts affect all of us, and will always affect us.  perhaps reading through the way others have approached battle and conflict, grief, destruction, redemption, and the joy that can follow the end of war time eras, gives fuel and hope? shadows of understanding?

it's april! here's to celebrating spring blooms and life and poetry.