In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vera Pavlova

"The ovaries of a newborn girl contain up to 400,000 egg cells." All my poems are already in me."  ~Vera Pavlova

About three months ago a friend gave me a copy of the Poetry Foundation's magazine "Poetry".  The magazine was founded in 1912 by Harriet Monroe.  Although it's been around for a hundred years it's new to me.  It is a delightful read and take-a-long for short trips or morning rituals.  Needless to say I am enjoying it thoroughly!  Please check it out.

In the April 2012 volume I found a little treasure.  Laid out on the last few pages was a wonderful section of quotes by Vera Pavlova.  Vera was "born in 1963, in Moscow (Russia). She is a graduate of the Schnittke College of Music and the Gnessin Academy of Music, where she specialized in history of music and wrote herdissertation on the chamber vocalcycles of Shostakovich.

She began writing poetry at the age of twenty, after the birth of her first daughter, while she was still at the maternity ward. She first published her poems at the age of twenty-four, in the literary monthly “Yunost’” (“Youth”). Pavlova became a celebrity after no fewer than seventy-two poems of hers were published in a two-page centerfold of the “Segodnia” (“Today”) daily, a unique event in the annals of Russian literature, giving rise to the rumor that she was a literary hoax. Since then, her works have appeared in many newspapers and in most of the major magazines in Russia."  What an inspiring woman!

Below are some of my favorite quotes by Vera. 
They are exalting to the spirit! 
Hope you enjoy them:

The cud of thinking: by the evening my jaw aches.

Pick a piece of wood floating in the river and follow it down the current with your glance, keeping the eyes constantly on it, without getting ahead of the current.  This is the way poetry should be read: at the pace of a line.

How do I feel about people who do not understand my poetry?  I understand them.

Being well-known means knowing almost nothing as to who knows you and what they might know about you.

Went to bed with an unfinished poem in my mouth and could not kiss.

Drafts in my notebook are written in the barely legible scribble; fair copies are in impeccable calligraphy.  My handwriting is much better than my Muse's.

Tolstoy:  "Man should live as if a beloved child were dying in a room next door."  As for me, I live as if that child were dying in my womb.

By giving books as presents, I mark my territory.

I live my life moving forward on rails that I lay myself.  Where do I get the rails?  I dismantle the ones I have gone over.

I write about what I love.  I love writing even more than what I write about.  And what do I do it for?  to love myself, if only for a brief while.

When a true poet dies, we realize that all his poems were about death.

Reader: Yevtushenko claims that in Russia a poet is something more than just a poet.  Is that true?
Poet: No, nothing can be more than a poet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

9/11 Morning

This summer a short two pager that I wrote will be in a book about Washington State ferries. The story is about what it was like to be on a ferry the morning of 9/11. Here is a little taste:

"New flames were emanating out from the south tower. We looked and waited for the person speaking to confirm it, but the newscaster did not yet recognize what we had witnessed LIVE! The wings and landing gear on the news helicopters and airplanes were in the way, preventing a clear view of both towers, causing me to subconsciously toss my arms to the left, “Get out of the way! Turn your plane around to get a better shot”! Frustrated, I changed the channel to get some answers. Within five minutes of the second plane hitting, Fox News called it a “suicide terrorist attack”, and NBC, “something deliberate”. TWO planes HAD hit the towers! A cold silence fell over our living room. What the hell was going on? The kids were just waking up and heading downstairs. My son asked, “What happened?” For a brief moment the four of us just stared at each other. As parents, we were speechless, but knew we had to tell our 3rd and 5th grader the truth: terrorist have just attacked America!

Then something strange happened to me, which to this day I cannot explain; I just fell into the motions of Tuesday. It was 6:20 and I had to catch my foot ferry. I did what the clock told me to do. Trusting my husband to comfort the kids, I put on my commuting socks and tennis shoes then drove the mile down to the waterfront.
The old Carlisle so lovingly restored sitting at the end of the dock talked to me; “I’ve made it through two World Wars and I’m still floating. Everything will be OK”, but I did not listen. This little boat would carry me across the Sinclair Inlet to the main Washington State Ferry terminal for Kitsap County in Bremerton. Hopping onto the boat, I headed right for the cabin to find a seat. Instead of viewing Port Orchard’s hills of classic homes and evergreen filled ravines, as I normally would from the stern, I sat in silence, along with four other passengers. It was hard to tell by their quiet demeanor if they were in shock by the events that just unfolded or if they had not yet been made aware. Judging by the sleepy atmosphere that normally enveloped the boat, I believed the latter. I didn’t want to say anything, perhaps I didn’t know WHAT to say. I couldn’t tell them what had happen. It was nice just for a moment to believe, that it was Monday morning and everything was normal again.

As we approached the Bremerton dock, our little boat passed by the mouth of a jumbo class triple decker auto ferry. This early in the morning the groaning sounds of cars loading onto her made it easy to imagine the ship as a basking shark ready to suck us in like plankton. Feeling myself being drawn into the gap I sat up and fixed my coat so as to collect myself."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Poetry: Perhaps

It's Monday and a great day for art and poetry!  Every Monday night is Poetry Night open mic in downtown Bellingham.  Last week Robert gave out a prompt that I couldn't resist: What should be done with your body upon your death.  All week I've been thinking about this.  What writer doesn't enjoy writing or thinking about death- the last great unknown.  After all it's the ending of the story that has the most power to the reader.  Perhaps writers would like to think they have some control over HOW they die, as they may with their characters?  I wrestled with all sort of ideas and came up with this:


Where my body lies
Perhaps some purple crocus
Will mark my grave
Only exposing the location
Once a year in early March.
Bud-green stalks
Protruding out about
A slushy snow

Where my body lies
Perhaps a coyote
Will come by for brunch
Munch on my decayed muscle,
Cracking the bone
For it’s sweet marrow.
That night when it howls
Nose pointed upward
My soul will follow suit,
Floating towards the moon

Where my body lies
Perhaps a condor
Will pick my bones clean
On a warm canyon floor,
Saving the smaller pieces
For its nesting babes.
Larger chunks, to big to carry
dark and red, sun themselves
As they recline against
speckled stones

Wherever I land
Perhaps even in a coffin,
Tombstone to mark it or not,
I hope an impression
That a body lays beneath
Would be noticed
Would be heard
Would be stirred
Back into the world
To which I was born




Thursday, May 10, 2012

Alberto Rios Poetry

At last night at Chuckanut Sandstone's open mic, Sandra F. Lucke shared the work of poet Alberto Rios.  Carla, the group leader, read his poem "Refugio's Hair" and the world shook!
This wonderful poet makes his home in Sedona, AZ.  Ríos is a Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University, where he has taught for over 30 years and where he holds the further distinction of the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English. 
With lines like "Carlos whose soul had the edge of a knife" it's no wonder Alberto has won so many awards! 
Had to share this poem with you today. Get ready, here it comes! 

Refugio's Hair

In the old days of our family,
My grandmother was a young woman
Whose hair was as long as the river.
She lived with her sisters on the ranch
La Calera-- The Land of the Lime--
And her days were happy.
But her uncle Carols lived there too,
Carlos whose soul had the edge of a knife.
One day, to teach her to ride a horse,
He made her climb on the fastest one,
Bareback, and sit there
As he held its long face in his arms.
And then he did the unspeakable deed
For which he would always be remembered:
He called for the handsome baby Pirrin
And he placed the child in her arms.
With that picture of a Madonna on horseback
He slapped the shank of the horse's rear leg.
The horse did what a horse must,
Racing full toward the bright horizon.
But first he ran under the alamo trees
To rid his back of this unfair weight:
This woman full of tears
And this baby full of love.
When they reached the trees and went under,
Her hair, which had trailed her,
Equal in its magnificence to the tail of the horse,
That hair rose up and flew into the branches
As if it were a thousand arms,
All of them trying to save her.
The horse ran off and left her,
The baby still in her arms,
The two of them hanging from her hair.
The baby looked only at her
And did not cry, so steady was her cradle.
Her sisters came running to save them.
But the hair would not let go.
From its fear it held on and had to be cut,
All of it, from her head.
From that day on, my grandmother
Wore her hair short like a scream,
But it was long like a river in her sleep.

Alberto Rios

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Poetry: Gray Braided Gardener

Seeds of joy
Toss from her fingertips
Green LIFE yawns awake
on the shady side of Nobles

Always in spring she is
Radiating beams of new LIFE
Kneading it into the earth
Everywhere she goes

LIFE follows her
or does she create it?
A goddess tramping through the desert
leaving behind her a forest

~Dedicated to my special friend Susan who always leaves a forest wherever she goes.  Her kind words of encouragement and truths spoken in love are like rain to a parched earth!