A POEM: “Patience Taught by Nature”

I woke up yesterday, April 4th (!!!) and saw this through the kitchen window and let out an exasperated groan in the direction of the sky, a groan which was meant for all of nature, really, because, well, I’ve had it with this winter that has entered its sixth month. I would like to renegociate the terms of our seasons with Mother Nature, and remind her that twelve divides itself nicely by four, producing seasons that (in theory) don’t outlast their welcome. I’d like her to know that we enjoy the change and the variety of her displays and that, … Continue reading A POEM: “Patience Taught by Nature”

POEMS, AS ST-PATRICK’S DAY APPROACHES

With March 17th just days away, let’s celebrate St-Patrick’s Day and Ireland, the land of lyricism and poetry, with words and verse. Though my mum, my sons, and many of my friends and family have been to Ireland, I haven’t (yet!), though it’s the birthplace of many of my ancestors (at least a couple of branches of the family tree). Still, it’s a place that feels familiar, and that calls to me. I think it’s the voices of Ireland’s poets and writers that I hear. My own St-Patrick’s Day contribution is this list of  Ireland in Adjectives. Would you like to … Continue reading POEMS, AS ST-PATRICK’S DAY APPROACHES

POEMS OF THE SOUL AND THE STARS

Your response to the Poetry Corner has been wonderful, and as a result, I’ve found real pleasure in searching out the poets and their works that will bring you back to the Library’s Online Book Club again and again. There seems no reason why the lives of poets Claude McKay and Lola Ridge should have converged, and yet both found their way to early twentieth century New York City. Claude McKay arrived in the Big Apple from Jamaica, where he was born (in 1889) and where he wrote his first book of verse (in Jamaican dialect).  Lola Ridge’s journey began in … Continue reading POEMS OF THE SOUL AND THE STARS

AN INVITATION TO LOVE ON A COLD VALENTINE’S DAY

I’ve come across another beautiful poem to offer you for Valentine’s Day: this one, from the turn of the 20th century. Its author is Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 – 1906, one of the first African-American poets to gain national recognition. According to the information about him that I found on poets.org: “Despite being a fine student, Dunbar was financially unable to attend college and took a job as an elevator operator. In 1892, a former teacher invited him to read his poems at a meeting of the Western Association of Writers; his work impressed his audience to such a degree that the popular poet … Continue reading AN INVITATION TO LOVE ON A COLD VALENTINE’S DAY

LIFE: LOVING SOMEONE, AND STRUGGLING (poems for Valentine’s Day)

I was first inspired to go searching for poems to share with you on Valentine’s Day 2014, and found Keats and Shakespeare’s Sonnets, as well as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet #43. These, of course, were classically romantic, and even if few of us could have recited any of them from memory, still, they felt familiar and also, somehow personal. This year, for Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share a sensual, suggestive and evocative poem by D.H. Lawrence,  titled “Moonrise”,  but first, I want to present this beautiful poem by another talented poet you may not know, Amiri Baraka. I stumbled upon him in a Sunday New York Times review … Continue reading LIFE: LOVING SOMEONE, AND STRUGGLING (poems for Valentine’s Day)

POEMS FOR A SUNDAY MORNING IN WINTER

I stumbled upon a poem this morning, and it seems just right, in spite of the fact that water and plant life, in Quebec, are mostly frozen right now. It’s by the poet Edward Rowland Sill (a discovery for me), who was born in 1841 in Windsor, Connecticut. He wrote The Hermitage and other poems (1868) and The Venus of Milo: and other poems (1883). He died in 1887. It inspired me to look for other poetic sources of winter inspiration, which, inevitably I suppose, led me back to Shakespeare. I found Sonnet 97, somewhat sad, but also a reminder of the … Continue reading POEMS FOR A SUNDAY MORNING IN WINTER

UNTOUCHED AND STILL POSSIBLE: POEMS FOR THE NEW YEAR

I received two wall calendars for Christmas: one with images of England where my son is studying, and the other of cats doing yoga (which I see as encouragement to take better care of myself!). There they are, glossy and pristine, with every square of every month blank, waiting to be annotated and filled with reminders of birthdays and medical or hairdressing appointments; with lunch dates and phone numbers; with my life’s near future. Every December, when I take down the old calendar, I pause. Another year has passed. With 2015 days away, I become pensive again.  It’s true that … Continue reading UNTOUCHED AND STILL POSSIBLE: POEMS FOR THE NEW YEAR

21ST CENTURY VOICES: WERNER HERZOG AND BEN LERNER

I’ve been reading through two books. The first is a result of Werner Herzog’s collaboration with Paul Cronin, set up as a long and fascinating conversation between the two. Herzog is a brilliant filmmaker (director of more than 60 films), and the author of several books, who has staged more than a dozen operas around the world. I’ve heard him interviewed many times on CBC Radio One, both on Writers and Company and on Q. His is a stellar, thoughtful, creative and divergent mind, and there seems to be no limit to his talents. The book with Paul Cronin includes … Continue reading 21ST CENTURY VOICES: WERNER HERZOG AND BEN LERNER

POETRY CORNER: TWAIN’S WAR PRAYER

In spite of his tremendous success as a writer and lecturer, Mark Twain did experience one failure in his career:  in March 1915, his publisher, Harpers’ Bazaar, rejected his piece, The War Prayer, written during the Philippine-American war of 1899-1902. In fact, The War Prayer was only published in 1923, thirteen years after Twain’s death. Often referred to as a short story, I think that Twain’s Prayer reads more like a prose poem. It stands as a searing indictment of war. “It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned … Continue reading POETRY CORNER: TWAIN’S WAR PRAYER

WAR POEMS: THE SPONTANEOUS OVERFLOW OF POWERFUL FEELINGS

To mark the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, a new edition of Jon Stallworthy’s acclaimed anthology, the New Oxford Book of War Poetry, was issued. In his presentation (in The Guardian) of what he considers the TOP 10 WAR POEMS, Stallworth begins by saying that: ““Poetry”, Wordsworth reminds us, “is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”, and there can be no area of human experience that has generated a wider range of powerful feelings than war: hope and fear; exhilaration and humiliation; hatred – not only for the enemy, but also for generals, politicians, and war-profiteers; … Continue reading WAR POEMS: THE SPONTANEOUS OVERFLOW OF POWERFUL FEELINGS