musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser


February 25, 2007

More poetry

Aside from the novel, I’ve been reading, writing, learning about, and pretty much immersing myself in poetry. I’ve posted some bits and pieces, mostly practice and works in progress, over at Spirit Blooms in the Poetry Sketchbook category. Feel free to drop by there if you’re curious. Though I’ve taken creative writing workshops in the past, I’ve never taken a poetry workshop, and I think I have a lot to learn before I go even that far. Right now I’m refreshing my memory with basics that I learned when I was young but are now a bit fuzzy.

Beverly Jackson has been an inspiration with her poetry posts, (not to mention her abstract paintings — wow!). She recently shared her experiences at the Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway – Cape May N.J. and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival on her blog. She also provided examples and book recommendations she got from poets there. Dig into her January archive to read the first of those posts, beginning here.

Right now I’m reading Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook, which I mentioned in a previous post.

HW Longfellow Postage Stamp

My renewed interest in poetry arrives just in time for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s bicentennial, which the United States Postal Service is commemorating with a special stamp — the second to bear his likeness. Longfellow is one of only two writers to be immortalized on more than one US postage stamp. Herman Melville was the other, a distinction he earned, in my estimation, with The Encantadas alone — his sketchbook about the Galapagos Islands.

The stamp displays a portrait of Longfellow, as well as a depiction of Paul Revere’s famous ride. The Smithsonian Magazine’s online biography, Famous Once Again provides lots of interesting details about Longfellow’s life. I never knew, for instance, that he was proficient in so many languages — ten altogether, at one point in his life. He’s considered the “uncrowned poet laureate” of the 19th-century US, and February 27 will be his 200th birthday.

I’m out of touch with today’s curriculums, but when I was young, just hearing or reading the first line, “Listen my children and you shall hear,” could set the cadence of Paul Revere’s Ride beating in my mind. Do kids still learn Longfellow in school? I was older when I read Evangeline, but the first verse is just as deeply embedded in my mind. I’ve since gone back for a taste, drawn in by the same first lines:

THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers –
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
(read poem)

I had no idea what a Druid was when I first read that, but the poet drew me into that forest and I was hooked. I wanted to know everything about it. I wanted to know what happened to the Acadians who once lived there.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:23 pm PST, 02/25/07

July 29, 2006

After a gray morning with lonesome gusts of wind

The heatwave broke, yesterday, leaving me with a slightly higher tolerance for the summer’s warmth. I didn’t flinch when the temperature rose to 83 in the house today. It’s nothing to me now.

The sky today has been mostly gray, thick clouds parting to reveal a diaphanous, silvery powder blue in places. Finally the clouds shrink to gray puffs against that blue this afternoon. A gust of wind now and then sets everything in motion, tumbling through wind chimes.

I always feel better once the first heat wave of summer passes, with a new higher range of personal comfort, and the assurance that I can make it through to autumn. Autumn here begins late. We always used to spend the first weeks of school with sweaty palms and skin sticking to the varnished chairs and desks. Around Halloween, the air finally cools enough for sweaters at night, at the same time kids dress up to make their ghoulish rounds. Three months to go.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:43 pm PST, 07/29/06

January 19, 2006

I started writing by hand

in the privacy of my bedroom, as a teenager, with colored pens. This involved lots of doodling as well as writing. Little hearts, daisies (shudder). I’m better at drawing the daisies now.

Later I taught myself to type on an old Smith Corona typewriter my mother or her mother purchased when Mom was in her teens or early twenties. She was born in 1923, if that gives you a clue to its age. It’s one of those typewriters that could be used to trace a murder suspect because of the way it slightly superscripts certain characters. I used it while seated on the floor of my bedroom beside my bed. Sometimes the typewriter rested on the floor, sometimes on a little castoff maple end table.
(more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 5:47 pm PST, 01/19/06

January 17, 2006

What ever happened to aprons?

The latest issue of Piecework features vintage aprons, including a collection with themes like Visit to Grandmother’s Farm, and Cycle of Life. My favorite is the peridot green gingham with cross-stitch embroidery depicting the Eternal Question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Aprons remained in vogue during the entire first half of the twentieth century, when most women worked at home. Sometime during the sexual revolution, aprons lost favor, except for men working the outdoor barbeque, proud of their culinary skills, pleading for kisses as rewards.

A lot of changes took place during that time. In the course of just ten years, my siblings and I went through big changes in what clothing was acceptable, and who was expected to make it.

When my oldest sister was in junior high school, she came home one day upset because her friend had been sent home for her skirt being too short, a crime proven by use of a ruler. My guess today is that either the fabric shrank in the wash, or she’d gone through a sudden growth spurt in the legs. After all, she wasn’t “that kind of girl.” In high school my oldest sister belonged to an organization called Future Homemakers of America. Many of the girls who belonged made their own homecoming and prom dresses. One girl in my sister’s class earned the reverence of her peers when she stitched hers completely by hand. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:44 pm PST, 01/17/06


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