A Gaggle of Favorite Poems

This week I am continuing my celebration of National Poetry Month by posting a gaggle of favorites.

A gaggle is a term of venery for a flock of geese that is not in flight; in flight, the group can be called a skein. A gaggle is equal to at least five geese.

A gaggle is also equal to eight fifty pound bags of salt. Usually one layer on a skid.

In military slang, a gaggle is an unorganized group doing nothing. In aviation, it is a large, loosely organized tactical formation of aircraft.

Based on this Wikipedia definition, I conjectured that a gaggle of poetry consists of exactly four poems in a loose tactical formation. 🙂

I have included links to what I hope is helpful analysis if you are interested. Enjoy!

 

1. “The Brain–is wider than the sky” by Emily Dickinson

This is a lovely poem about the vastness of our minds and inner worlds. I like the analysis of blogger ritzala.

The Brain — is wider than the Sky —
For — put them side by side —
The one the other will contain
With ease — and You — beside —

The Brain is deeper than the sea —
For — hold them — Blue to Blue —
The one the other will absorb —
As Sponges — Buckets — do —

The Brain is just the weight of God —
For — Heft them — Pound for Pound —
And they will differ — if they do —
As Syllable from Sound —

 

Bird Millman Popular_Mechanics_1917

Tightrope Walker Bird Millman, Popular Mechanics 1917

2. “Constantly Risking Absurdity” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

This is an interesting poem about writing poetry. I like the analysis provided by jhamann on hubpages.

Constantly risking absurdity
                                             and death
            whenever he performs
                                        above the heads
                                                            of his audience
   the poet like an acrobat
                                 climbs on rime
                                          to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
                                     above a sea of faces
             paces his way
                               to the other side of day
    performing entrechats
                               and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
                               and all without mistaking
                     any thing
                               for what it may not be
       For he’s the super realist
                                     who must perforce perceive
                   taut truth
                                 before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
                                  toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
                                     with gravity
                                                to start her death-defying leap
      And he
             a little charleychaplin man
                                           who may or may not catch
               her fair eternal form
                                     spreadeagled in the empty air
                  of existence

 

toy-pictures-12

3. “Women” by May Swenson

This is one of my favorite poems about women actively choosing who they will be and how they will and will not relate to men.

Whether or not you agree with the sardonic view and feminism of the poem, it raises a lot of important considerations about identity and purpose. The notion of exploitation is a universal one to which just about anyone can relate.

I like the analysis provided by SuperItchy.com.

Women                                 Or they
   should be                              should be
      pedestals                              little horses
         moving                                 those wooden
            pedestals                              sweet
               moving                                 oldfashioned
                  to the                                    painted
                     motions                                 rocking
                        of men                                  horses
                        the gladdest things in the toyroom
                           The                                       feelingly
                        pegs                                     and then
                     of their                                 unfeelingly
                  ears                                     To be
               so familiar                            joyfully
            and dear                               ridden
         to the trusting                      rockingly
      fists                                    ridden until
   To be chafed                        the restored
egos dismount and the legs stride away
Immobile                            willing
   sweetlipped                         to be set
      sturdy                                 into motion
         and smiling                         Women
            women                                 should be
               should always                        pedestals
                  be waiting                              to men

4. “i thank You God for most this amazing” by e. e. cummings

Completing my gaggle is this gem, in celebration of all the effervescent springtime writer walkabouts I’ve been enjoying. This one’s pretty straight-forward so instead of a link to analysis, here is a cool choral rendition of the poem for your ears.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Spring walkabout

Again, if you write poetry please post a link as I’d love to read it. Have a wonderful week!

A Few Stunning Quotes About Imagination

In my experience, imagination is an important part of mental and spiritual well-being. It’s also rather handy for writing fiction!

Here are a few quotes about imagination that inspired me this week…

Forgotten beasts of eld.jpg

I write fantasy because it’s there.  I have no other excuse for sitting down for several hours a day indulging my imagination.  Daydreaming.   Thinking up imaginary people, impossible places.  Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps.  It must be fed; it cannot be ignored.   Making it tell the same tale over and over again makes it thin and whining; its scales begin to fall off; its fiery breath becomes a trickle of smoke.  It is best fed by reality, an odd diet for something nonexistent; there are few details of daily life and its broad range of emotional context that can’t be transformed into food for the imagination.  It must be visited constantly, or else it begins to become restless and emit strange bellows at embarrassing moments; ignoring it only makes it grow larger and noisier.  Content, it dreams awake, and spins the fabric of tales.  There is really nothing to be done with such imagery except to use it:  in writing, in art.   Those who fear the imagination condemn it:  something childish, they say, something monsterish, misbegotten.  Not all of us dream awake.  But those of us who do have no choice.

― Patricia McKillip

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.

― Gloria Steinem

Ted Geisel NYWTS 2 crop.jpg

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.

― Dr. Seuss

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

― Sylvia Plath

I imagine that yes is the only living thing.

― e. e. cummings

Lyrics to “Young at Heart”

Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you’re young at heart.
For it’s hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you’re young at heart.

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in your heart, or on its way.

Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart.
For as rich as you are, it’s much better by far
To be young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive.
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.

― Johnny Richards (Song performed by Sinatra, Micahel Buble, and others)

My 6 Favorite Quotes from J.K. Rowling

I love much of how this woman thinks, so today I’m celebrating that.

Here are my 6 favorite quotes from Joanne ‘Jo’ Rowling (the K is for her grandmother’s name, Kathleen, if you’ve ever wondered)…

1. “I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

2. “I think writing about the time in Hermione’s life that I write about – growing from childhood into womanhood, literally, I think it brought back to me how very difficult it is. So much is expected of you as you become a woman, and often you are asked to sacrifice parts of you in becoming a girl, I would say. Hermione doesn’t.”

3. “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”

4. “Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.”

5. “I think that perhaps if I had had to slow down the ideas so that I could capture them on paper I might have stifled some of them.”

6. “I’ve no idea where ideas come from and I hope I never find out; it would spoil the excitement for me if it turned out I just have a funny little wrinkle on the surface of my brain which makes me think about invisible train platforms.”

Happy writing this week!

On Why We Love Reading the Classics

Even though I read and write a lot of future-focused fiction, so many of my favorite books would be classified as classics. I thought that just made me old-school until Edith Wharton enlightened me today.

Edith let me know I just have a taste for stories with ‘irrepressible freshness’. True, her ‘classics’ were different from those works I now think of as classics, but it still applies.

A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.

– Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton - Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University / Wikipedia

Edith Wharton – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University

 

Books as Proof that Humans Can Do Magic

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

~ Carl Sagan, American astronomer, astrophysicist, & cosmologist

 

Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Society

My Top 10 Songs About Writing – #ToWriteTo

My iPod includes several songs which are either directly or indirectly about writing. For whatever reason, they inspire me to keep going with my writing projects.

Here’s my list, in hopes that you’ll add yours (here or on twitter with #ToWriteTo). I need some new tunes!

1. Open Book by Cake – While I realize this is a song about more than a woman writing a novel–it’s about the pursuit of love–the writing theme still steals the show!

Cake - Album Cover for Fashion Nugget

Cake – Album Cover for Fashion Nugget

2. Rewrite by Paul Simon. Again, he’s really singing about rewriting his life but it’s so easy to take this one literally as well. So I do. Because the work of rewriting is enough of a pain that it needs a theme song!

Album Cover of So Beautiful or So What

Album Cover of So Beautiful or So What

3. Crazy by Seal. I referenced this song in my recent post about how I’ve tried to take my writing commitment to the next level.

Previous Post: But Are You Willing to Get Crazy? 20 Ways to Sacrifice More to Be a Writer

The Single Crazy by Seal

The Single Crazy by Seal

4. Lose Yourself by Eminem. I’m a lightweight so I do have to listen to the clean version. But you can’t listen to this and not be ready to fight for your dream. Or at least I can’t.

Cover of Lose Yourself Single

Cover of the Lose Yourself Single

5. Make It Happen by Mariah Carey. I swallowed my pride to include this guilty pleasure. I can’t deny that when I listen to this, I do indeed want to work toward my dream and make it happen.

Yes, it’s over-the-top and dramatic when she refers to doing without things in order to make it as a singer, but then, I let her get away with it because it certainly can feel dramatic like that, putting this song in the same vein as my whole Seal-and-sacrificing-for-writing kick (see #3).

Album Cover for Emotions

Album Cover for Emotions

Tower of Song

Cover of I’m Your Man

5.  Tower of Song by Leonard Cohen. Because describing oneself as paying rent in the Tower of Song, or in this case the Tower of Writing, is great imagery for the often reclusive experience of doing something artistic.

I especially love these lines:

“I said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long

A hundred floors above me
In the Tower of Song…”

Full lyrics

6. Every Day I Write the Book by Elvis Costello. He’s singing about love through the analogy of writing a book but it has an endearing duality of meaning to those of us who truly are–every day!–writing books.

Cover of Punch the Clock

Cover of Punch the Clock

7. When You Wish Upon a Star by Louis Armstrong. Yeah!!!! Disney songs never sounded so good. This version may finally convince you that the universe is on your side and fulfilling your wishes, however meanderingly. Note: I believe part of wishing is working as hard as you can and not just wishing on stars.

Cover for Disney the Satchmo Way

Cover for Disney the Satchmo Way

9. Young at Heart by Frank Sinatra, Micahel Buble, and others. This song’s lyrics deserves quoting in full:

Cover of To Be Loved

Cover of To Be Loved

“Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you’re young at heart.
For it’s hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you’re young at heart.

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in your heart, or on its way.

Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart.
For as rich as you are, it’s much better by far
To be young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive!
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.”

10. Anything else pertaining to my current project. Right now I’m writing about Iceland so naturally I listen to Of Monsters and Men at least ten times a day!

Cover of My Head is An Animal

Cover of My Head is An Animal

So now for your writer-worthy tracks, be they about writing or not so much.

You could post what works for you to have on in the background, for example. My votes on that subject are Fleet Foxes and David Gray. Leave a comment here or use the twitter hashtag #ToWriteTo. Go!