alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
I thought it would be fun to have a collaborative/play thread similar to our Trick or Treat haiku events.

Ways to participate:
  1. Start a thread in the comments with a prompt thematically related to time and our perception of it.

  2. Write a short poem in response to a prompt.

Prompts can be anything related to time or the perception of time (including cliches, proverbs, and puns).

Poems should be no longer than 10 lines, and may be any format that fits within that line limit (e.g. blank verse, haiku, haikai, limericks, etherees).

Feel free to provide multiple prompts and to respond to others poetic answers. Answers may be as serious or silly as you wish. The goal is to get creativity flowing and have fun.
alee_grrl: Railroad tracks through an autumn forrest (autumn rails)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
In the northern hemisphere November is a time when the days darken earlier and shadows seem more prevalent. This can make it easier for our personal demons to trouble us. As the holidays approach we often feel our losses more deeply. For many people I know November is a time for remembrance and memorial. Whether it is remembering their dearly departed on All Saints Day/Dios de los Muertos, remembering Veteran's and the cost of war on Armistice/Veteran's Day, or remembering holiday seasons past be they good or bad. For me personally it is a mix of all these things, plus the annual memorial that is my birthday, mixed with the anniversary of a dreadful storm that I witnessed as a child.. Most would not think of birthdays as memorials, but in the sense that it is a day for remembering and contemplating the past I find that birthdays are the ultimate memorial. I felt it fitting that I start our week on remembrance and memorial since today is my birthday.

It is a month that always makes me think of the past and the many uncertain associations that I have with the month. It is also a time for me to reflect on the positive things that have come into my life, and the wonders of friendship and love that I've experienced as I've grown older. I wanted to write a poem that captured this mix of feelings and contemplation. I am going to put the poem under a cut as it may contain some triggering material for folks. For all the darkness and rawness contained in the poem, I did try to end on a lighter more hopeful tone. Also, for those interested the storm referred to was one that hit the Shreveport, LA area on November 15, 1987. It spawned several tornadoes, including the F3 that essentially went right over our heads.

Feedback and constructive criticism is always welcome. I also welcome people to share in the comments what they remember this month.

So trigger warning: poem contains themes of child abuse, domestic violence, neglect, PTSD, and rather detailed description of a natural disaster and the related shock )
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (kitty)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
This post is a collaborative effort between [personal profile] alee_grrl and [personal profile] lizcommotion. We each wrote a little introduction/meta piece to explain a little bit more. Read more... )
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
May and June are months of transition in the academic world, usually marking the end of spring sessions and the start of summer ones. These are also the most common months for graduation ceremonies, at least here in the United States. Bigger universities will also sometimes have December ceremonies, but many school have only one commencement and it is most frequently held in May or June. Commencement ceremonies are all about transition, and the focus of the speeches is usually on inspiration and lessons that graduates should take with them as they move on into the rest of their lives.

In 1990 Theodor Geisel published his last book, Oh! The Places You'll Go. By the time I graduated from high school in 1998 it had become a common gift to graduates, and a common theme for graduation speeches. Dr. Seuss did not avoid difficult topics simply because his target audience was children. Like another famous and inspirational childhood hero, he talked about these things because children needed to hear about them. He framed his ideas in whimsy and imagination, and I think that may have held his very best lesson. Whimsy and imagination are always important, no matter your age.
Read more... )
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (kitty)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
Cycles are a vital part of life and can be found everywhere from the physical world to the emotional and spiritual worlds. Cycles are often reflected in longer verse, but I think it might be fun to see what we can do with them in short forms.

I'll start things off with a short poem on the water cycle. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a short format poem (haiku, tanka, etheree, or short free verse) about some sort of cycle. Also feel free to comment, offer prompts for cycles you'd like to see tackled in short verse, and discuss.

This challenge is just to get our creative minds going again, to engage the community after a bit of a hiatus. So feel free to continue to post answers throughout the week. Most of all have fun! :)

by [personal profile] alee_grrl

ride the heat, up and up
til the sky grows cold
Condense and fall, down,
down, back to the earth
poetree_admin: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)
[personal profile] poetree_admin

Back in March when [personal profile] jjhunter and I ([personal profile] alee_grrl) were looking at creating new features to encourage community participation we came up with two ideas. The first was the Sunday Picnic. The second was to do a weekly challenge post. In discussing the format and framing of the challenges we quickly realized we needed to have two different types of challenges as we wanted to encourage broader participation in the community and not everyone who is part of our community writes poetry. We wanted to be sure that we had some way of including the poetry enthusiasts in the fun.

Both of us really enjoy playing with words and building on existing metaphors. As [personal profile] jjhunter explained in her earlier post about the interplay of art and the [community profile] poetree community, our community name was inspired by a sculpture of a tree made from a book of poetry. The title of the work is "poetree", which is both a play on the word 'poetry' and an elision of the words "poet's tree." The poet's tree is a wonderful image that has formed the roots of many of our community's features. When we were discussing creation of a weekly challenge we exchanged a lot of playful title ideas, but the one that we both really loved was "Climbing the Poet's Tree."
Read more... )
poetree_admin: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)
[personal profile] poetree_admin
jjhunter will have the art post up tonight.

As the [community profile] poetree community has grown and evolved from a place to share poetry to a full blown community of poetry enthusiasts [personal profile] jjhunter and I ([personal profile] alee_grrl) have looked for ways to encourage and develop participation and discussion. One of the issues that came up in our brainstorming sessions was the need for an informal day where community members could talk about poetry without needed to host a week or wait for one of the multi-hosted weeks to come around. We also realized it would be nice to have a place for community members to discuss *any* topic, including non-poetry related topics, as a way for us to get to know each other and foster the growing sense of community. One of the suggestions was to set aside a day for a routine post that encouraged discussion and sharing. Sundays seemed to be an ideal day. The title "Sunday Picnic" was a fun riff off of the [community profile] poetree name.

The Sunday Picnic premiered on March 18, 2012 and has become a weekly tradition.

Recently we decided to roll some of the weekly round-up features, namely the associated member posts and general poetry news, into the Sunday Picnic post. The weekly round-up were time consuming and not sustainable. Rolling those features into the Sunday Picnic threads makes them more sustainable and far less time consuming.

Join us every Sunday under the branches of the Poet's Tree for a lovely picnic where a smorgasbord of delights and friendly conversation are available.
alee_grrl: Girl in a red sundress holding a parasol and walking through the forest (Whimsy)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
One of the things that really resonated with me when reading Julia Stein's "Downtown Women" was how much we still needed the Bessie Abramowitzes of the world. Stein's poem reminds me of our rich history, of the many excellent role models we do have, and of all those women who didn't sit quietly and accept the status quo. I wanted to build on that, to expand her wonderful poem into a modern rallying cry as well. We live in a time where some are trying to erase the achievements of these amazing women, where they are trying to undo years of fighting and go back to a time of less regulations and deny women reproductive health rights. We must remember the women who stood before us, and call on the same strength they did. We must stand up for ourselves.

"Raise Your Voice and March with Me"
inspired by Julia Stein's "Downtown Women"

I am the great-granddaughter of Bessie Abramowitz
                   the Russian-Jewish factory girl
                   who refused the matchmaker
                   who chose her own husband
                   together they shook Chicago
                   they changed the garment industry

I say that we are worth more than your charity baskets
                   we are worth more than pats on the head
                   we make our own choices, we are our own voice

Bread and roses! Bread and roses!
                   Raise your voice and march with me!
Read more... )
alee_grrl: Little green dragon with cookie sitting on a bookshelf reading a book by candlelight (dragon)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
Poetry is one of the oldest literary forms and one of the most widely used literary forms. There are so many great examples from across the world, going back millennia. What has kept this literary form going strong for so long? What gets us interested in poetry? What keeps us interested in poetry? These are some of the questions I would like to explore this week, not as an amateur poet, but as a reader and lover of poetry.
Read more... )
alee_grrl: Dot from Animaniacs wearing a Kimono (cuteness)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
I love the variety of forms and lengths in poetry. From epics to limericks, there is a length perfect for every occasion. Sometimes you want to immerse yourself in a poetic story, and sometimes you just have time for a short snippet. Little bite-sized poems can be tremendously fun to write. With a little bit of time, a splash of inspiration, a thesaurus (I find them helpful at least), and a quick decision regarding form (metered, unmetered, etc.), you can have a little nugget of poetry. This bits can be visually inspiring, humorous, insightful--just like their longer brethren. These forms are also great for collaboration, which is a fun game of playing off each others words. For some great examples of collaborative poetry here on DW, check out [community profile] dreamwidth_haikai. Since I'm doing short forms today I've included two poems. The first one is a short bit of blank verse inspired by looking at the railroad tracks and the house I live in one summer evening when the power had just gone out. The second is a haikai (thanks to [personal profile] jjhunter for turning me onto that particular form) that resulted from brain overload during a particularly stressful class this semester (dry and/or silly humor is one of my stress outlets). This will be my last post for the week. It's been a blast hosting!


silhouette trees against a darkening sky-
a house broods empty on a hill. lonely rails glint
silver in the dimming light-
everything looks haunted in the gloaming.

Braaaiiiinnnnssss (a law school haikai)

Print swirls across blank
page, energy and knowledge
seep out as you type;

eyes glaze over. Yes, zombie
brief eats your brains as you type.
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
One of the aspects of poetry that I love is its ability to encourage change. Poetry is in many ways a distilled form of expression. Ideas and emotions are boiled down to their essence and left to steep in the mind of the reader. Words are chosen and placed carefully in hopes that they will resonate with the reader long after the poem has been read. Activists of various stripes have long used poetry to influence and persuade, to illustrate their plight and dream of possible futures. Some great examples of such poets and their works can be found here. I chose one of my more recent poems for today's post. It developed from two thought paths: a general frustration with people who insist that words are not hurtful, and the realization that other's words only really have the power we give them. Sometimes it is necessary to turn understanding and perception on their heads.

Word Ownership


Words: small units of language.
Tiny tools, multifaceted and complex
Strung together, used to concentrate the abstract.
Concentration allows manipulation.

Words have an accepted general meaning-
Amorphous and fluid, affected by time and culture.

Like all tools words have only
The morality given through use.
Vocal scalpels may heal or hurt
Shaped by speaker’s intent and
Listener’s understanding.


You spit the word fat like it leaves a bad taste.
I free the word of venom and spite and endeavor to
Wear my size with grace. I am who I am;
I reclaim the word rather than spit in your face.

You sneer as you call me a geek or a nerd.
I grin and say it with pride.
This is who I am and I’m proud of that fact.
It is you who I pity inside.

So many words to label me, box me and
Cut me down; I will not be quantified.

I own the words I speak,
I own the words I hear.

Say what you will, I’ll hear it as I choose.
alee_grrl: Candle burning next to mirror in a window sill with snow seen through the window (Winter candle)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
One little thing before I get into the intro for today's poem. I was very inspired by the poetry recordings shared by [personal profile] luzula during her hosted week, and those shared by [personal profile] jjhunter in connection with that week. This particular poem is a very effective one when read outloud. So I decided to experiment with that and have included my performance at the end of the post (after the poem for those who prefer to read). It is a rough recording as I do not have a good microphone as of yet, and it is my first take. Still I think you might enjoy it. :) Now on with the post.

I grew up in a household where emotional expression, especially of the darker emotions, tended to be dangerous and as a result I learned to suppress my emotions rather early. This can have a dangerous effect on the psyche, as it can lead to disassociation of emotion entirely. After entering therapy I learned that I needed to find healthy ways to explore the emotions I'd distanced myself from. It can be a scary process delving into the dark waters of emotion with no real idea of how to cope with what lies beneath the still surface. Writing turned out to be one of the best ways of exploring these inner waters, and poetry turned out to be expressing their distilled essence. I have found that acknowledging the emotion, then exploring the feeling, working to understand the emotion and its causes, and ultimately expressing that understanding in some fashion (visual art, poetry, journal entry) helps me deal with many situations now. I'm currently working on a poem that deals with my emotional response to Hurricane Irene (which was a devastating storm here in Vermont), though that poem is no where near ready to post yet. Instead I will share a poem written at a time when I was first acknowledging the deep wells of anger I harbored. This is actually the poem that directly preceded Freedom Song of the Jigsaw Girl in my life. I felt trapped by my life and circumstances, and though I had hope that I would soon be leaving and starting a new life part of me wondering if there was really a way out. This was the poetic result:

Silently Screaming

Your verbal ejaculate washes around me, over me,
tinted with red anger and black fear. Body frozen, my
mind stumbles, clinging to any thoughts that flit by.
My mouth opens to spill passion
words back at you. Words throttled by some
sliver of self that still wishes to wrap its arms around you.
Crescent marked palms sweat; eyes shine too brightly.
And I stand silently screaming
amidst a stream of words that bruise me, bleed me.
Passions spent, your footsteps echo down the street.
And I am left bleeding invisibly, wondering
if I will always be silently screaming.

alee_grrl: Candle burning next to mirror in a window sill with snow seen through the window (Winter candle)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
When I was a freshman in college we read The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock. Around the same time my great aunt was in the hospital. As I was walking in to visit her one afternoon I had a startling realization. Prufrock had measured his life in coffee spoons, but I had measured mine in hospital rooms. My brother was a severe asthmatic so we had many a late night emergency room visit and both my maternal grandparents had chronic health issues that often meant long hospital stays. It was an interesting realization and a fun way to relate to poetry read. It would be two years before this realization would turn into a poem of its own. My junior year I took a creative writing course and our final assignment was to write either a sonnet or a villanelle, paying careful attention to both meter and rhyme. I hesitated on a topic for this poem until I remembered the old connection I had made between Prufrock and hospital rooms. With a little tweaking I had a perfect ending couplet for a sonnet. Then I just had to go back and fill in the beginning. :) Here is the resulting work:


Light gray walls, strewn with paintings gone unseen
encircle me. I walk through sliding doors.
Shoes squeak down silent halls, an old routine
recalled. The scent of lemon-fresh bleach bores
through nostrils covering the cloying scent
of death. I round the corner, past machines
with snacks. My stomach roils in discontent
as I recall how often I have seen
halls like these. Past the nurses station two
doors down I find room three-thirteen. I stand
a moment, letting thoughts still and subdue
themselves. One thought breaks off and then expands.
While Prufrock gauged his life with coffee spoons
I've measured mine in hopsitals' bland rooms.
alee_grrl: Winter Trees silhouetted against dark blue sky at twilight with shooting stars. (shooting stars)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
One of the ways I love poetry is that it can act as a verbal snapshot of life. My mother had several books of Robert Frost's poetry around the house, which influenced my love of poetic snapshots. I wrote this particular poem in college as a remembrance of my maternal grandmother. She died when I was ten, but her memory has been a comforting presence for me. Most of my memories are of her holding court at the kitchen table (the more batter everyday table rather than the fancy dining room one) in scenes much like the one described in this poem.

The Matriarch

She sits enthroned
In a chair of cheap cold tin
With a cover of blue speckled vinyl.
A matching table
Of fake gray-white marble with
Blue filigree along its edge is bowed
Before her. She is robed in faded night
Gown once ornate with vivid flowers.
A steel halo of stale cigarette smoke blends
With a bluish silver helmet of curled hair.
A paper hand rests
Next to a can of diet coke.
Brown eyes set in among
Deep crow’s feet avidly investigate
The pages of the romance before her.
alee_grrl: Candle burning next to mirror in a window sill with snow seen through the window (Winter candle)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
I'm [personal profile] alee_grrl and I will be you host this week. At times it seems I have loved poetry my whole life. Even before I learned to read, I loved to listen to poetry. About the time I was ten I started to play with writing my own. Though I wouldn't share those early attempts with anyone, even if I still had the battered journal they had been written in. In my mid-teens I took a summer creative writing course with a cousin and began to polish my writing style a bit more. I also took classes in high school and college. My college poetry professor was harshly critical and very hard to deal with, but my poetry did improve under her tutelage. My poetic productivity has waned over the years as other concerns and interests have eaten into my time, but I still enjoy writing poetry when I can. I use poetry to capture snapshots of life, to work through difficult issues, and to have fun with words.

For today I thought I would share the poem that I take my journal title from. Written nine or so years ago, this is a poem I used to process a lot of mental and emotional issues at a turbulent time in my life. In many ways this poem has become my anthem, my freedom song. So without further ado, I present:

The Freedom Song of the Jigsaw Girl

I am the Jigsaw girl,
shattered and scattered
across the prison of my mentality.

Pieces of me glitter and glare
in the light leaking from the cracks.

The first thing I find is my feet.
Silly skips snap into place with
sneaky slinks to form my toes.
The jaunty jumps of a tomboy bounce
together with the sensuous saunter
of a young woman forming the arch.
The heel and ankle are formed by angry stomps,
frightened fleeing, and delighted dances.

The next thing I find is my hands.
Balled bitter fists mesh with gentle fingers
that form magical creations with crayons
and later charcoal. Crescent scarred palms
lock with excited fluttering digits, and my hands are formed.

Legs, arms, head, and torso fall into place. But
some bits cower in the safest shadowy hiding spots.
New found feet dart through my old prison,
freshly created hands coax and entice. Slowly
the rest of the pieces are placed.

Excited streams of words bubble
from my rosebud mouth. Songs, screams, shouts,
wonders, and whispers wander out as a voice finds
freedom; another puzzle piece snapped into the whole.

Finally patchwork hands hold the final piece. Tattered
heart is smoothed into the remaining gap.
My old mentality disintegrates.
I salsa with the sunbeams; savor my sovereignty.

I am the jigsaw girl,
pieced and patched together.
Stronger than I was before,
I dance across my universe.
jjhunter: Watercolor of daisy with blue dots zooming around it like Bohr model electrons (Default)
[personal profile] jjhunter
One of my favorite poetry formats is haikai (alternating verses of 5-7-5 and 7-7), or more specifically haikai no renga, which today is known more simply as renku. It is a form of collaborative Japanese linked verse poetry; the more well known form (in English) haiku comes from taking the first verse of a haikai in isolation. I like haikai because I usually write them in collaboration with one or more other poets (with some exceptions), and the strict syllable count for each verse limits its length, making it more likely someone else will take the time to respond.

Since I joined Dreamwidth, I've worked on three different haiku/haikai-related projects. The first is a set of threads over at [site community profile] dw_codesharing where I offer an invitation code to anyone willing to write a haiku about why they want to join Dreamwidth; I also write a haiku in return that plays off whatever themes and imagery the first haiku introduces. You can find the original thread at the second codes wanted post and a followup thread on the current codes wanted post (#3); some of the exchanges are really lovely.

The second project is an offshoot of the first: a comm specifically for Dreamwidth-related haiku/haikai: [community profile] dreamwidth_haikai. Of especial note there is [personal profile] alee_grrl's piece snow-tinged dreaming, which has some wonderful continuations in the comments; my piece Letters to the Dreaming World, which was featured in a [site community profile] dw_news post last September; and a series of pieces for the second [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw (3W4DW) anniversary fest.

Today's poem is from the third project, the 2011 April Haiku/Haikai Fest that I hosted on my journal [personal profile] jjhunter. In celebration of National Poetry Month, I posted an original poem seed every day for a month and invited others to continue the poem in the comments. 'Blue' is from April 8th; blockquotes are verses written by [personal profile] alee_grrl while lines not in blockquotes were written by me.


color is pigment
here: a homemade pastel of
concentrated sky
cobalt and sapphire hued glass
spark-sunlight off mountain lakes
lapis lazuli
ocean on open ocean
clothes Mary richly
Speckled shells of powder blue peek
from the nest-a hint of spring.

Such color in hues
so varied words sometimes fail.
We try anyway

to catch the beauty before
us. So rich a world have we.
what butterfly net
can catch the blue of his eyes
swipe hue from berry

snatch more than camera can?
an artist's brush records most

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February 2017



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