Archive | July 2012

Poetry Is In The Eye of the New Beholder

You probably know a die-hard poetry hater.  It’s probably someone who couldn’t memorize the requisite number of lines from the prologue of “The Canterbury Tales.   Perhaps there was a traumatic  experience with the Norton Anthology of English Literature–a wrong assumption that all of it had to be read – every page – including poetry –  in one semester.

Perhaps Marianne Moore’s poem that she too hated it reinforced this perception.  Maybe The Iliad, The Odyssey, Shakespeare, the Romantics,  the Beats held some appeal, but since peers shunned it, so would they.  And worse by far, perhaps, poetry-fearing zealots may once have been aspiring poets until caught in the act of  writing it by friends.  For this and any myriad of reasons, they solemnly declared never to dabble in sentimentality again.  Poetry – not now – not ever!

And then along came Billy.

Billy Collins, one of any number of not-too-difficult names to remember.  He is a past poet laureate of the United States.  As all my friends will attest, I love Billy.  I love poetry.  I love the arts.  And now these two have merged into a new sort of poetry — beautiful to the ear and to the eye.

Today your challenge is to take  15 minutes of zen right now.  Watch this video and behold the new power of poetry as you see the poems come alive by some very creative artists.

And if you like it, share it with someone who needs to rediscover poetry and the imagination it inspires.  And if you are very brave, try your hand at poetry again if it’s been awhile.  One of the purposes of this blog is to inspire handwritten poems by any means.   Just remember the words of Billy’s student,  “poetry is harder than writing,”  so don’t be discouraged.  Writing gives your thoughts tangible form.  SEE what you have to say.

And if poetry still doesn’t seem to be working, follow Billy’s friend advice – “If at first you don’t succeed, hide all evidence that you tried.”

But don’t give up on poetry.  I’ve always said you need to read 1,000 poems before you can write one good one.   Just keep reading – maybe you will want to make videos with poems or open meetings with them as Billy suggests.  Just keep open to the possibilities of poems and what you may find there.

What real toads live in the imaginary gardens just outside your window?  Show us.  Write it down.


Fifteen Minutes…of found fame


You’re sitting somewhere. It could be anywhere.  You’re on the Metro; you’re in your favorite cafe;  you’re in line – a tedious, long line; you’re at the park.    You could be anywhere.  They could be anywhere.   You overhear words that say it all.  Seem to incapsulate an entire truth in a few words.  Speak to some greater truth.

The journal entry I captured includes only the side of the conversation I could hear.  The other person at the Bureau of Vital Statistics sat behind a walled-off area and only muffled rseponses could be heard from my vantage.

I scribbled the notes as fast as I could, capturing the short life of this small infant before he became entombed  in this hall of records, forgotten in the maze of statistics that record the passing of our days.  I transcribe the poem here in case you aren’t able to read my handwriting.  Please feel free to share your comments and any found poems or snippets you might wish to share.

Fifteen Minutes

“What do I do

with this kid’s birth certificate

that was born and died on the same day?”

“Well, I’m doing the death certificate, too,

and he didn’t have a length of time that he lived–

number of days says zero.”

 “Born 2:03.   Died 2:18.”

“Fifteen minutes is all he lived.”

“They want his age but the birth certificate says zero.”

“What do I do?”

If you’re a writer, you write.  You find what was dropped.

You pick it up, and you run with it.

  ntaylorcollins © 2011, 2012

Why Do I Feel Like I’m Living the Choruses of Meatloaf’s Songs?

And now, it’s much too late to learn how to cook…       

you are

     Every generation has a musical pulse, a beat that captures the mood, the beat of its generation–especially in matters of love and all its characteristics. Music gives me almost daily heart transplants as it seems I rarely meet a piece of music that I can’t figure out how to like. I thrive as I feed on the feast of notes circling about me. I savor snippets of inspiration to explain my life in lyrical often beat-inspired handwritten gasps.

Poetry needs to stand on its own musicality from words that carry a click or a clang or a whisper. Sometimes musical references creep into the poem, a concrete hint of its roots.  Sometimes, like today, Meatloaf is singing my life to me and I feel like I’m trapped living in the chorus of his songs.  Adagio is the musical word I want to use as he belts out songs.

And in the poets of Twitterdom, I find tweeters who pen their posts in every conceivable spin from formal to free to all points in between–their poetry in short often un-arranged, unedited bursts. Sometimes a relay ensues – one poet passes off a phrase to another – a banter begins. Recently, Steve @dreamersteve_99 wrote:

The song tasted the bitter and sweet notes of her…playing the subtle parts very lightly..where her truer lover lives. #museinlove #poems

Steve often uses the hashtag #museinlove.   Be sure to look for his work and follow him if you are a #museinlove or need a #museinlove or if you’re just looking for one of the prolific poets of Twitter.  When I retweeted Steve’s post,  I didn’t have time to write a poem back. Working on some images for a collage today required me to write a piece to go with the collage and Steve’s post (with a little help from Meatloaf) inspired the following five lines:

He—the bitter-sweet notes

Lingering on her lips—

An interval savored–

the pause—ethereal pitch—

In adagio, always adagio.

Thanks to Steve, my draft was easier to incorporate the word “adagio” that I have wanted to use for a while.   I’ll be sharing many favorite words, many poets from Twitter as well as other inspirations from the words of others.  The world vibrates with song in verse, with song in prose, with song in song.

As I work on my daily creative brews,  I find nourishment in the creative mix.  And thanks to Meatloaf I won’t be sad– because one good draft out of three ain’t bad.

Now if I could just get my love life in order…

…..but I guess I just won’t do that.

Writing Tip – Pick a Twitter poet to respond to or use a song lyric as a beginning. Look down the list I follow in Twitter if you need some ideas.  Or search #poet #poetry as a broader start.  If you need more visual stimulation, use the collage, “you are,” to get you started.

Late Night – Quarter to One

If you ever wondered why Twitter exists and why poets love it, read on.

Picture this.  You wake.   You toss this way; then that.  Punch the pillows.  Kick off the covers including the rolled up cat.  Left side.  Right side.  Flat on your back.  Take a swig of water or whatever might be bedside.  If you find only two empty beer bottles, an uncorked bottle of bitter wine, then warm water will suffice.

The phone with its fraying umbilical cord hovers too near the brink. You push it further back on the table, notice  friends from Facebook, a couple of texts, a missed call.  Why did you think umbilical cord when you saw the tangled cord?  Poem fragments jangle in your tired mind.

You read in the Twitter stream that Cher is having a magical celestial underwear tour.  You realize – No. She’s not — that a candidate for POTUS wears them.   Mormons are offended by Cher’s comments — You didn’t need this crap – You are often offended by Mormons.  So get over it people, you declare, becoming more focused on where your mind seems to wander.

You tweet to everyone.  You tweet to no one.  It’s almost the middle of the night where you are.  Twitter never sleeps because it’s always awake time some where out there.  You are no longer restless.

You notice an opened journal on the empty pillow next to yours — a Thoreau quote catches your eye–

This was his looning – perhaps the wildest sound that is ever heard here….

You grab a pen – pen poetic thoughts in cursive in case you later become a loon and have a looning yourself.

  • He pulls me up / as he lowers himself down
  • Two lips / to fruit / too soon /devoured
  • half twist / backward’s glance / glimpse
  • remembering to remember not to forget
  • the substance of a shadow in tall grass

You post five consecutive Tweets not even using hashtags for #poetry or for #amwriting.  These fragments will be worked into  poems later or perhaps not.  Perhaps they will lay in a fallow field, compost for a while until something productive sprouts.  For now, you birthed a few ideas.  Maybe someone else will take inspiration from them.

Your work is finished here for the night.  You pull in your twitter line.  Somehow, you know that you’ve reached out.  You touched someone.  You may even feel a little touched – and not just in the head,  and somehow you sleep now.

Yes, sweet sleep — like the baby, in the tree top.


Writing Tip – Pen something based on a quote that you enjoy.  Or use the looning line above.  Try writing in cursive in a journal of some sort.  One of the main purposes in this blog is to encourage the preservation of cursive handwriting.