Hairbag Poet-Ekphrasis-Coming Home

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

 

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

Each and every week I post a picture, and write a poetic interpretation of what I’m seeing, but I didn’t realize (because I’m the Hairbag Poet) that this is actually a type of poetry known as Ekphrasis. In Greek Ekphrasis means description. According to Poetry Foundation,  “An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.”

Ironically my brother has been doing a study/portfolio/ of his Wand of Knowledge toting Alien, and has sent me two photos this week of Alien family experiences in the snowy tundra of Maine.  I say ironically because I too have been a bit alien obsessed, having found the new X-File series recorded in the free on demand section of my cable. Have I been living under a rock not knowing that Scully and Mulder were back in action?  Can I just say how happy I am!

Scully and Mulder are back in the new X-Files!

I’ve titled this poem Coming Home, both for the Alien photo, and my nostalgic return to one of my favorite T.V. series.

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

Photo by Donald who says, “Facing harsh conditions on third planet the alien finds shelter for offspring and the wand of knowledge.”

We hale from solar system
X-241.
Our planet is Ogda.
It’s warmed by one sun.

We traveled through space
to learn and explore,
when our vehicle crashed
on your Maine ocean floor.

We signaled for help,
but our systems were down
so we swam to the shore,
and walked into town.

Your planet is harsh
Your language is odd
we were chased from the sea
by an angry clawed mob

We need to find shelter,
safety, protection
contact command
and prepare for ejection.

This abandoned old house
will do nicely I think,
with its minty green shutters
and door painted pink.

My offspring and I
will camp here for the night.
Our Wand of All Knowledge
provides crystal light.

This plastic pitched shelter
will be our new home
where our space crafts can land
in this crude aerodrome.

I open the door,
and step quickly inside
relieved to discover
its unoccupied.

My Wand of all Knowledge
is fixed with a chip
that signals distress
to our home mothership.

It may take some time
for help to arrive
my offspring and I
must learn to survive

in this place they call Maine
with its downy white lands
and monstrous sea creature’s
double clawed hands.

Will the aliens be rescued?  Will Mulder and Scully be called in to investigate strange Maine alien sightings? Will the smoking man and his shadow government conspire to get there first?

Stay tuned. Until next week…

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The Hairbag Poet-Madness Poetry

Hi and welcome to my series The Hairbag Poet

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

So as some of you may know I have been participating in the 2018 March Madness Poetry competition hosted by Ed DeCaria over at madness poetry.com.  I wish I could remember how I stumbled across this competition and give that person credit, but unfortunately being the Hairbag Poet that I am, I can’t remember. It was sometime last year that I went to Ed’s site to check out what the madness was all about, and sign up to be notified when the 2018 competition would be open.

In the meantime I learned that the Madness Poetry competition is a writing challenge that starts with 64 authletes (writer athletes) competing against each other in bracket like matchup of skill (mimicked after the college Basketball brackets). In order to enter the competition you must submit an entry poem.  This year I was asked to write a poem about the Thinkier Trophy, and to my pleasant surprise, I received an email a few weeks later letting me know I had been selected to compete.

The Thinkier Trophy

After jumping up and down with excitement, I went onto the madness poetry site to check out the past competitions, and get a feel for the contest.  Since Ed re-launced the site in 2017 as a new site with less technical difficulties, you can only see the 2017 competitors, but if you go here, and dig around, you can read the other competition years dating back to its inception in 2012. As I started to read the past entries my excitement faded to anxiety.  The talent was intimidating; the writing top notch.

However, I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, and when the first day of the competition arrived, and I received my first word, I was ready.   My word: Bedevil. I spent all my free time (which isn’t much) thinking about my word, looking it up, perusing the thesaurus for inspiration, until finally a small idea seeded, and grew into a poem.  I was excited and nervous to put my work out there to be judged and voted on.  Would I suffer a humiliating loss? Would anyone like my work? Whatever my fate, I was happy I had written a poem with my assigned word prompt, and stayed within the 500 character limit (which was not easy to do!).

Then it was time to vote.  This is the coolest part.  Ed has the voting divided into three sections: the authlete vote, the student vote, and the community vote.  We as writers get to vote all throughout the competition, even if we lose, and this vote carries some extra weight.  The student vote comes from schools that have signed up their classrooms to read and vote on the poetry entries. The student vote also carries heavy weight considering the poems have to be kid friendly.  The community vote consists of everyone else who chooses to sign up to read, and vote for their choice of best poem. The voting is open for two days, at which time everyone can vote and comment on their favorite poems. The winner then proceeds to the next round. With each round the authletes are cut by 1/2 until only one winner is left standing.

After two nail bitingly, nervous days, I was elated to discover I had advanced to round 2.  It was a close match, and the writer I was up against had a very funny poem.  Humor is key to winning most times, but not all of the time, and my little mythology poem squeaked by for the win.

Round 2 had me up against another excellent writer. My word: incoming.  Again I stewed on my word, and let ideas simmer until I came across one I loved.  I wrote to my word, and kept to my 500 character count, but unfortunately for me, this was the end of the line.

The good news is I get to keep on reading and voting on all the new poems yet to be written.  It is exciting to open my computer and click on each entry and discover the creativity of each writer as they display their new works.  With each new poem, I learn a little more about rhyme and meter, form and style.  I am inspired to keep writing no matter what.

I cannot wait to see how this years Madness will end, and who will be honored with the Thinkier Trophy.  I also cannot wait for another chance at Madness next year.

Please continue to follow along at madnesspoetry.com to read, vote, and enjoy the immense talent, and amazing poems being created. If you know any teachers who might be interested, please share this post with them so they can incorporate this competition into their lesson plans for next year. It is a great way to introduce poetry to children of all ages, and set up for April’s National Poetry Month.

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

The Hairbag Poet

The Hairbag Poet-Why?

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

Today’s poem is going to tackle the very difficult topic of school shootings. I have three children: one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. They all practice lockdown drills.  This has become matter of fact for them.  There are days I sit at the bus stop and watch my children get on the bus and wonder if today is the last day I will see them.  My kids will never know anything different.

As a healthcare professional I am appalled at the way this country handles, and has handled, mental health issues. Starting as far back as the mid 1950s deinstitutionalization began with the introduction of Thorazine, and the belief that people with mental illness could be managed on an outpatient basis, despite the fact that there was no system, or funding, ensuring successful outpatient follow up (pbs.org, 2005).

Now in 2018 we find ourselves having a mental health crisis and wonder why?  What are we missing?  Why do children want to kill?  Why are the signs of mental illness ignored? Why are semi-automatic weapons of war easily accessible to the general public, and in particular to teenagers? What is the responsibility of primary care physicians/pediatricians in recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness? What is law enforcements responsibility? When will enough be enough?

In my post today the picture that was sent to me by my brother Donald had an interesting caption. He wrote, “As promised the aliens returned with the wand of knowledge…or fill in your thoughts.” My thoughts got me to thinking about how alien school shootings are to me. It’s not how I grew up. I love the idea of a wand of knowledge, or perhaps a wand of peace. I’m realistic enough to know life doesn’t work that way.

Young children’s brains are equally alien to the idea that they too could be a victim of gun violence in school, but it doesn’t mean they don’t think about it, or have an opinion, or ask why. My poem today is written from their perspective.

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

 

The Hairbag Poet

Photo by Donald, who says, “As promised the aliens return with the wand of knowledge or fill in your thoughts…”

Why?

Why do we have to duck and hide,

and lock our doors

so terrified?

Why has school become so scary?

Teacher says, “It’s cautionary.”

I say, “Can’t we all be friends?”

Is this too hard to comprehend?

Help the kids with angry souls,

and implement safe gun control!

The Hairbag Poet-Siberian Snow Cat

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

Russia, Russia, Russia, it’s all we hear about in the news lately, so I thought I would devote this weeks Hairbag Poem to Acmeism. According to the poetry foundation (2018) Acmeism is “An early 20th-century Russian school of poetry that rejected the vagueness and emotionality of Symbolism in favor of Imagist clarity and texture. Two famous poets of Acmeism are Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova. Both these poets lived through the tumultuous Russian Revolution, and the communist leadership of both Lenin and Stalin.

Mandelstam was a poet in a time when artistry, and individual thought did not fit into communist government ideology. During his life, Mandelstam was exiled, arrested and tortured, released, rearrested, and died in the Soviet work camp/prison system. He paid the ultimate price for freedom of speech.

After being a celebrated writer and poet for most of her life, in 1925, under the new Bolshevik government, Anna Akhmatova’s work was banned. The government was in control of all literary publication and funding. Her son was placed in a work camp, his only crime being the son of his father Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev a poet and counterrevolutionary. Gumilev was executed in 1921 without a trial.

As writers we take our freedoms and liberty seriously. If we have to think twice about what we are writing or saying, are we really free?

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

The Hairbag Poet

Photo by Donald titled “Snow Cat”

Siberian Snow Cat

Kis, Kis, Kis they call to me…

Bitter cold warms my spirit.
A thousand winters pass.

Kis, Kis,Kis they call to me…

Conifers bow as one
In taigas’ boreal winds.

Kis Kis, Kis they call to me…

Mountain peaks cry frosty streams.
Icy crocheted doilies wet my tongue.

Kis, Kis, Kis they call to me…

Snowy forest playground romps;
Jump, vault, hurdle, dive!

Kis, Kis, Kis they call to me…

Puff, puff, puff; palatial pelage puffs
Warding winter winds.

Kis, Kis, Kis they call to me…

Sable, fox, squirrel, ermine
Treukh, Ushanka, Kubanka, Papakha.

Kis, Kis,Kis they call to me…

Take refuge from the cold,
Abandon ancient grounds.

Kis, Kis,Kis they call to me…

“My turn shall also come:
I sense the spreading of a wing.”

Thank you for reading. The last line is a quote from Osip Mandelstam’s poem “I hate the light” from Selected Poems.

These are the real Siberian Snow Cats.