What Is the Name for a Group of Poets?

Alice is a delightful poet, and I participate in the critique group she mentions here. I hope you enjoy reading this whimsical poem as much as I did.

alice13wordwalk

What Is the Name for a Group of Poets?

a poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

A colony of beavers

must know something

about colons and semicolons.

A sleuth of bears

hibernates to envision

the highs and lows of detective stories.

A kaleidoscope of butterflies

flutters around fictional fantasies.

But, what do we call

a group of poets?

A murder of crows

sounds appropriate for

a group of mystery writers.

A flight of doves

must develop

many creative ideas.

A convocation of eagles

must ease into

historical fiction.

A cast of falcons

must focus on

TV scripts and stage dramas.

A stand of pink flamingos

perches upright and ready

to present

behind any podium.

Perhaps, you can think of what to call

a group of poets.

A cackle of hyenas

have to turn to comedy.

A troop of kangaroos

can write military history.

A leap of leopards

jumps into a variety

View original post 722 more words

Thursday Book Feature: The Poetry of Billy Collins

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’m reviewing two collections by one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins. . Some of you may remember that I reviewed The Rain in Portugal last year, but I’ve since read it again, and it’s worth a second look.

***

Aimless Love: A Selection of Poems
Copyright 2012.

The poems in this collection provide slice-of-life and often humorous reflections on such topics as nature, religion, and other poets. In “The Revenant,” a deceased dog talks to his owner from the grave. In “The Lanyard,” the author describes how he made a lanyard for his mother, who did a lot more for him. In “Suggestion Box,” he considers writing a poem about all the people who give him poem ideas. The title poem is about unconditional love. Some poems here are previously published while others are new.

If you’re a poet, Billy Collins might inspire you. After reading “The Revenant,” I wrote a poem in which one of our cats speaks to my father from her grave. “Istanbul,” in which the poet shares his experience with a Turkish bath, inspired me to write about a similar experience I had in a California spa run by Koreans. Even if you’re not a fan of poetry, you might enjoy Billy Collins’ work, since most of it reads more like prose, although it looks like poetry on the page.

***

The Rain in Portugal: Poems
Copyright 2016.

In the author’s usual humorous style, poems in this collection reflect on jazz, writing poetry, and other subjects. In “Lucky Cat,” Collins suggests betting with other humans on the actions of felines. In “Only Child,” he longs for a sister to help care for his aging parents. In “The Bard in Flight,” he imagines what Shakespeare would do on an airplane. The collection’s title comes from the poem “On Rhyme,” in which he reflects on such common sayings as “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”

I heard about this latest collection when he appeared on A Prairie Home Companion. . Of course he read a few of his poems, and I was hooked. Needless to say, I downloaded the book and spent a delightful evening reading the poems aloud to myself.

According to an author’s note at the beginning, the electronic version of this book is designed so that formatting isn’t affected when the font size of the type is changed. Words at the ends of lines that are moved down when text is enlarged are indented to indicate they’re part of the same line. This didn’t make any difference to me, since I read the book in Braille, but I’m glad those with low vision can enjoy the poems the way they were written. These poems are meant to be recited, preferably by
Billy Collins, but I enjoyed reading them aloud.

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

***

The rails of the printed page

In celebration of National Library Week, here’s a post from Washington’s poet laureate. What do you remember about your local public library when you were growing up? How has it changed since then? Do you think public libraries are important? I hope so.

Washington State Poet Laureate

Unknown.jpeg

This week libraries across the country are celebrating National Library Week. We all have read, or heard, stories of how libraries have literary saved people’s lives. Those lives were perhaps mired in difficulty and libraries offered a way to engage with new ideas, imagine possibilities and experience lives different than their own.

Growing up in El Salvador I did not have any public libraries. I knew there was a National Library in San Salvador, the capital. There were probably libraries in larger towns, but they were not easily accessible nor part of the collective consciousness. My father and mother, both teachers, were avid readers so I was lucky to have many books at home. They showered me with books they thought useful for me to read. They signed me up for a Book-of-the-Month Club through which I read Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Juan Ramón Jímenez, and many of the Western…

View original post 414 more words

My Downtown Memories

Thanks to Mike Stanton’s post in Writing Wranglers and Warriors for inspiring this. When I was growing up in the 1960’s, my family was living in Tucson, Arizona, and a trip downtown was exciting because we had to drive through a large tunnel in order to get there. Dad or Mother kept honking the horn, as we drove through, and I loved the way the sound reverberated.

Once downtown, I enjoyed shopping in department stores with escalators and elevators. During the Christmas season, visiting Santa Claus was the highlight of any shopping trip. We often ate at a cafeteria, where my favorite meal was turkey with dressing and sweet potatoes. On my eleventh birthday, my parents took me and my younger brother to dinner at an Italian restaurant, where we ate outside on a patio.

The Tucson Community Center opened downtown while we were still living there, and Dad and I heard such performers as The Carpenters and Sonny and Cher. This facility also had a music hall where we heard performances of such works as Benjamin Britton’s A Celebration of Carols and Karl Orf’s Carmina Burana. We even heard a production of Rosini’s The Barber of Seville.

After we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1973, going downtown wasn’t nearly as exciting. The only tunnels were underpasses on the freeway. None of the department stores had escalators. One had an elevator, but it was old and creaky and had to be run by a human operator. However, there was a café where I enjoyed drinking milk shakes after school.

Now, that café has since been replaced by another that doesn’t serve milk shakes. The department store with the elevator is gone, as are other stores that were there during my childhood. I still enjoy walking downtown from my home in favorable weather to do banking and other errands.

***

Now, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll conclude with a poem I wrote that was inspired by a childhood memory of downtown Sheridan at night. This is an acrostic in which the first letter of each line spells “downtown.” You can click below to hear me read it.


***

MOONLIGHT MADNESS

Dancing lights from cars pass
on busy sidewalks
with stores of all sorts to delight shopers who have
not a care in the world, as they stroll
to Penney’s, Woolworth’s
on streets that are crowded
with babies in strollers, children, and adults
needing nothing more than to shop and enjoy.

***

What do you remember about downtown when you were growing up? What has changed since then?

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

***

Saturday Song: Petula Clark–Downtown

Thanks to Mike Staton in Writing Wranglers and Warriors for inspiring me to post this song. You can tune in on Tuesday for my downtown memories. Enjoy this song, and have a great Saturday.

***

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

***

Thursday Book Feature: The Imortalists

The Immortalists
Benjamin, Chloe.
Copyright 2018.

In 1969, four Jewish children in New York City visit a psychic who tells each one of them the day he or she will die. These children grow up, all the while aware of their predicted death dates. The two youngest, Simon and Clara, move to San Francisco, where Simon, who is gay, becomes a dancer, and Clara becomes a magician, marries, and has a child. The next youngest, Daniel, marries and becomes a doctor, and the oldest, Varia, becomes a scientist.

I read about this book on an email list. One thing I didn’t like was the author’s shift between present and past tense. She uses past tense mostly for flashbacks, but at times, I wasn’t sure if she was flashing back or in the present. As a writer myself, I prefer the use of past tense only with flashbacks perhaps told in the past imperfect tense.

Otherwise, I found this book fascinating. I like the way the author explores the question of to know or not to know when you’ll die. It also makes you wonder if those children’s lives would have been different if they hadn’t visited that psychic and heard her predictions of when they would die.

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

***

Stay Away from My Tree House

Last year, a day care center opened next door to me. One day, I overheard one or two children admiring, from afar, the tree house in my back yard. The following poem was inspired by one of those “what if” moments I get as a writer.

What if one of those kids sneaked into my yard, climbed my tree, then fell? What if I wasn’t home, and the child lay injured on the ground for hours before help arrived? What if his parents sued me? The tree house has since been taken down due to concerns about the tree’s stability.

This poem was published in Mingled Voices 2, an anthology produced by Proverse Poetry of Hong Kong. You can click the link below to hear me read it.

***

stay away from my treehouse.mp3

***

STAY AWAY FROM My TREE HOUSE

Little one, it looks inviting, doesn’t it,
a house nestled in an old oak tree?
It’s far from homey.

It came with this house I bought ten years ago.
I don’t know how long it’s been there,
wooden ladder rickety, perhaps unstable.

If you manage to get to the top,
who knows if the structure would bear weight?
Like the cradled baby in the treetop,
you and the house could tumble down, down, down,
land on the ground all broken.

The ambulance would take you away.
Wearing a body cast from head to toe,
you’d spend weeks, months in the hospital.
Unable to do anything
but lie there and watch television,
you’d long to be outside with your friends.
Dora the Explorer would get old after a while.

Your parents would sue me.
I’d have to sell my house
in order to pay your hospital bill,
move to a senior apartment complex,
where I could no longer enjoy my own back yard,

so you’d better not climb into my tree house
if you know what’s good for both of us.

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

***