Michelle Bonczek, Poet’s Billow editor and poetry mentor, is celebrating the release of her new chapbook The Art of the Nipple (Orange Monkey Publishing, 2013), and we are celebrating with her. Pick up a copy if you would like to support and read some great poetry.
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In Crazy Brave, Joy Harjo recounts how her early years — an abusive stepfather, the hardships of teen motherhood — suppressed her artistic gifts and nearly broke her. “It was the spirit of poetry,” she writes, “who reached out and found me as I stood there at the doorway between panic and love.”
Joy Harjo has released four CDs, and won a Native American Music Award for Best Female Artist of the Year for her album, Winding Through the Milky Way.
View caption Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie
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N.J. medical professionals increasingly turn to poetry, literature to improve patient care
“We see literature as a way for health care workers to reconnect to the humanities of their patients, to see through someone else’s eyes and to understand their patient’s perspectives,” said Mary Rizzo, associate director of the council who runs “Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare” in six New Jersey hospitals.
“Through studying literature, we learn to be better diagnosticians, better observers, better interviewers, better clinicians,” said Nancy Gross, who moderates the program at Overlook.
In hospitals across New Jersey and around the country, medical professionals are increasingly turning to poetry, novels and other forms of literature to help improve patient care. From book clubs to writing seminars to today’s Poetry and Medicine Day in Newark, hospitals are encouraging their staff to seek out literature to help increase empathy, learn about new cultures and improve communication among their team.
“Art always enriches life,” said Julia DiGioia, a physician at Overlook who is a member of the book program. “These are human stories. They give us a deeper appreciation of life and a new appreciation of what our patients can endure and triumph over.”
Diane Kaufman, a psychiatrist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, sees poetry and writing as integral to her work. As founder of Creative Arts Healthcare, she works with colleagues across the hospital to celebrate the arts.
Today, they present the third-annual “Poetry in Medicine Day,” a program featuring a morning lecture by a nationally renowned poetry therapist, workshops with five authors who have written about medical issues and discussions about using stories and poetry in clinical practice.
“Medicine is a creative endeavor,” Kaufman said. “Sometimes we split ourselves apart. This is a way to bring ourselves together and to announce out loud that we have a creative community here.”
Kaufman says studies show the use of arts — music, photography, paintings, writing — can help patients in their recovery.
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The Healing Word
Fiona Sampson pioneered the development of writing in health care in the UK. Her publication The Healing Word – a practical guide to poetry and personal development activities, commissioned by the Poetry Society, researches the nature and effects of poetry and healing activities based on actual accounts by workers and users in the health care system. Especially noteworthy are her “Ten Commandments” for good practice in running a poetry project in a healthcare setting. These include:
making sure there is supervision in order to provide a briefing and debriefing support system for the poet;
avoid a competitive environment;
ensure confidentiality with all participants’ writing.
As in any project, being clear about the remit equals good management. However, she suggested that future residencies could benefit from a project manager such as the Poetry Society. Especially in healthcare, poets are working alongside health professionals with very specific outcome models, so the more professionally managed a project is the better. “At the moment we know arts and poetry in healthcare is good because it’s about access… we could also advocate that people are taking part in a prestigious artistic endeavour”, says Sampson.
More at The Poetry Society
One of the most popular forms of American poetry, the blues poem stems from the African American oral tradition and the musical tradition of the blues. A blues poem typically takes on themes such as struggle, despair, and sex. It often (but not necessarily) follows a form, in which a statement is made in the first line, a variation is given in the second line, and an ironic alternative is declared in the third line.
African-American writer Ralph Ellison said that although the blues are often about struggle and depression, they are also full of determination to overcome difficulty “through sheer toughness of spirit.” This resilience in the face of hardship is one of the hallmarks of the blues poem.
Some of the great blues poets include Sterling A. Brown, James Weldon Johnson, and Langston Hughes. The title poem of Hughes’ first book, The Weary Blues, is also an excellent example of a blues poem. It begins:
"Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, I heard a Negro play. Down on Lenox Avenue the other night By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light He did a lazy sway . . . "
Another example is Brown’s poem “Riverbank Blues,” which begins:
"A man git his feet set in a sticky mudbank, A man git dis yellow water in his blood, No need for hopin', no need for doin', Muddy streams keep him fixed for good."
Contemporary poet Kevin Young is continuing the tradition; his most recent book, Jelly Roll, is a collection that draws heavily on the blues tradition. Young is the editor of the recent anthology, Blues Poems.
Article from Poets.org
A traditional Japanese haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. Often focusing on images from nature, haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression.
Haiku began in thirteenth-century Japan as the opening phrase of renga, an oral poem, generally 100 stanzas long, which was also composed syllabically. The much shorter haiku broke away from renga in the sixteenth-century, and was mastered a century later by Matsuo Basho, who wrote this classic haiku:
An old pond! A frog jumps in-- the sound of water.
Among the greatest traditional haiku poets are Basho, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and Masaoka Shiki. Modern poets interested in the form include Robert Hass, Paul Muldoon, and Anselm Hollo, whose poem “5 & 7 & 5” includes the following stanza:
round lumps of cells grow up to love porridge later become The Supremes
Haiku was traditionally written in the present tense and focused on associations between images. There was a pause at the end of the first or second line, and a “season word,” or kigo, specified the time of year.
As the form has evolved, many of these rules–including the 5/7/5 practice–have been routinely broken. However, the philosophy of haiku has been preserved: the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment and illumination.
This philosophy influenced poet Ezra Pound, who noted the power of haiku’s brevity and juxtaposed images. He wrote, “The image itself is speech. The image is the word beyond formulated language.” The influence of haiku on Pound is most evident in his poem “In a Station of the Metro,” which began as a thirty-line poem, but was eventually pared down to two:
The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.
Article From Poets.org
Though the name of the form may appear to be a contradiction, the prose poem essentially appears as prose, but reads like poetry. In the first issue of The Prose Poem: An International Journal, editor Peter Johnson explained, “Just as black humor straddles the fine line between comedy and tragedy, so the prose poem plants one foot in prose, the other in poetry, both heels resting precariously on banana peels.”
While it lacks the line breaks associated with poetry, the prose poem maintains a poetic quality, often utilizing techniques common to poetry, such as fragmentation, compression, repetition, and rhyme. The prose poem can range in length from a few lines to several pages long, and it may explore a limitless array of styles and subjects.
Though examples of prose passages in poetic texts can be found in early Bible translations and the Lyrical Ballads of William Wordsworth, the form is most often traced to nineteenth-century French symbolists writers. The advent of the form in the work of Aloysius Bertrand and Charles Baudelaire marked a significant departure from the strict separation between the genres of prose and poetry at the time. A fine example of the form is Baudelaire’s “Be Drunk,” which concludes:
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”
The form quickly spread to innovative literary circles in other coutries: Rainer Maria Rilke and Franz Kafka in Germany; Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, and Octavio Paz in Latin America; and William Carlos Williams and Gertrude Stein in the United States. Each group of writers adapted the form and developed their own rules and restrictions, ultimately expanding the definitions of the prose poem.
Among contemporary American writers, the form is widely popular and can be found in work by poets from a diverse range of movements and styles, including James Wright, Russell Edson, and Charles Simic. Campbell McGrath’s winding and descriptive “The Prose Poem” is a recent example of the form; it begins:
On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, strands of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the distance, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of green and healthy plants aligned in close order, row upon row upon row.
There are several anthologies devoted to the prose poem, including Traffic: New and Selected Prose Poems and Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present, as well as the study of the form in The American Prose Poem: Poetic Form and the Boundries of Genre.
Article From Poets.org
An epic is a long, often book-length, narrative in verse form that retells the heroic journey of a single person, or group of persons. Elements that typically distinguish epics include superhuman deeds, fabulous adventures, highly stylized language, and a blending of lyrical and dramatic traditions.
Many of the world’s oldest written narratives are in epic form, including the Babylonian Gilgamesh, the Sanskrit Mahâbhârata, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil’s Aeneid. Both of Homer’s epics are composed in dactylic hexameter, which became the standard for Greek and Latin oral poetry. Homeric verse is characterized by the use of extended similes and formulaic phrases, such as epithets, to fill out the verse form. Greek and Latin epics frequently open with an invocation to the muse, as is shown in the opening lines of the Odyssey:
Of the cunning hero,
The wanderer, blown off course time and again
After he plundered Troy’s sacred heights.
Of all the cities he saw, the minds he grasped,
The suffering deep in his heart at sea
As he struggled to survive and bring his men home
But could not save them, hard as he tried–
The fools–destroyed by their own recklessness
When they ate the oxen of Hyperion the Sun,
And that god snuffed out their day of return.
Over time, the epic has evolved to fit changing languages, traditions, and beliefs. Poets such as Lord Byron and Alexander Pope used the epic for comic effect in Don Juan and The Rape of the Lock. Other epics of note include Beowulf, Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Dante‘s Divine Comedy, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The epic has also been used to formalize mythological traditions in many cultures, such as the Norse mythology in Edda and Germanic mythology in Nibelungenlied, and more recently, the Finnish mythology of Elias Lönnrot’s Kalevala.
In the twentieth-century, poets expanded the epic genre further with a renewed interest in the long poems. The Cantos by Ezra Pound, Maximus by Charles Olson, The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You by Frank Stanford, and Paterson by William Carlos Williams, while not technically epics, push and pull at the boundaries of the genre, re-envisioning the epic through the lens of modernism.
Article from Poets.org