Saturday, February 24, 2018

My Sweet Sixteen ( A Personal Best Of )

Dear Readers, it's the 10 year anniversary of Word Garden.

I have been writing and posting on this blog since 2008, and for two years before that elsewhere. Even prior to that, in my younger incarnation as a writer, my work appeared in a few dozen journals.I thought it might be time to make up this list of the sixteen of my own poems that I am most proud of and pleased with. I'll list them in ascending order, with some thoughts about each one and a link to the full poem. (Clicking will open the poem in a new window.) I hope you enjoy them.

16. Beeville (2/21/09)  Always, I have liked to write prose poems that tell stories. In this poem, I have combined my love of small Midwestern towns, girls' and women's sports, and storytelling. 

15. Lady Franklin Bay (2/7/11)  I have written several poems about Arctic explorers and on far northern themes. Most of them are longer story poems, but this one is short, and uses the Greely expedition into the Canadian Arctic in 1881-1884 as a metaphor.

14. An American Girl In The IRA (1/25/16)  I made a trip abroad in 2009 and had a horrible experience which left me with a jaundiced eye for all things English. I combined that with my penchant for creating outsider characters, and the result was this. 

13. Decompensation (12/3/10)  Sometimes I know right away that something I've written is good, and then other times--like with this poem--I don't. Over time, though, I liked this one more and more. Decompensation is a medical term denoting the breakdown of a system that had been working but which breaks down due to stress. Thus, my homeless lady trying to hang on to something good in spite of everything.

12. Vantului (11/24/11)  Pestera Vantului is a wind cave in Romania. Those of you who read my stuff know that  have an unexplained fondness for things eastern European. This poem uses the wind caves to talk about a feeling of approaching mortality.

11. The Witch In Springtime (5/4/10)  I was going through a dry spell with my writing and had experienced some relationship disappointments, so I wrote this poem about a Witch who's lost her powers.She is feisty, though, and the fact that the poem title denotes "springtime" probably says that her struggles with ice and winter detritus is temporary.

10. No Matter (4/12/16)  I posted this under the title "Singer & Song", which I later changed to "No Matter" when I included it in my book Catechism For A Girl On Fire. It's just a love poem that says, no matter what, I will be there.

9. The Hill is Closer To Heaven  (2007?)  Although I posted this poem to my blog in May of 2008, it is older than that. I wrote it in 2006 or 2007. It's a very simple love poem, but it remains a special favorite of mine. The person I wrote it for seemed naturally good to me, "closer to Heaven." I still think she is. 


8. While Pouring Coffee (5/3/15)  I would be remiss if I didn't include a flash 55 poem. It's more than that, though. When I was younger, I went out into the world. Now that I am older, I find that it more often comes to me. Oddly, I don't think that's what I was after when I wrote it, and it has been edited a bit from its original version--improved, I think.

7. Fire (7/15/10)  This was a reminiscence, about something that happened when I was young. We didn't actually crash into a tree; we miraculously stopped about an inch short of it. We did have to call a tow truck. 

6. Rose (12/12/15)  I think that this is the best rhyming poem that I have ever written.  I was thinking about the death of a very young child. 


5. Heaven (6/30/14)  I find that the love poems (of my own) that I like the best over time are the easy breezy ones more than the overwrought ones. Though we like to say we're going to feel a certain way, or do a certain thing in the future, really who knows? All we can do is love today and head in a direction that feels right. 


4. The Cherub Of Pierzanie Prison (6/21/14)  "Pierzanie" is a Romanian word for "perdition." I stole the idea of the cherub from a remaindered novel called "The Building" by Thomas Glynn. He opens the novel by describing a cherub statue in a trash-strewn apartment building courtyard with an upside-down shopping cart draped over its head. I took that and ran with it. While the novel is blackly humorous, my poem is about needing love despite all the shit that rains down sometimes, and despite our own flaws. 


3. Love Poem For K. (2/13/12)  I'm very proud of this poem. Writing something complex, simply, is a hard thing to do, and this one time I think I got it absolutely right. Sometimes a thing or a person doesn't seem to fit in our lives and yet they keep on appearing as if to say that they do, after all.


2. God & Eros (6/2/11)  I have tried many times to write about my childhood, but this poem is far and away the best of them, except for the one that follows. "Playing church, I lied" is one of my favorite lines I have ever put down. When one is denied one place, one looks elsewhere, and  I did. 


1. The Far Garden (12/27/10) One of the things I recall most vividly about my childhood is the little patch of garden way in the back of the yard which had strawberry and mint planted there. I was always out of doors, wandering, and was always very curious about myself and about the world, as I still am today. However, answers weren't forthcoming when I asked questions, back then. Somehow, though, I kept that wandering, curious spirit alive. It is there in every poem I write.


Catblossom and her associate editor Crackblossom don't think anything I have ever written is anything but "tiresome claptrap and derivative drivel." I hope you disagree with them! ;-)


12 comments:

willow_switches said...

Absolute congrats on the many years of writing and accomplishment - and many many more to come!

And what a great idea - celebrating your "sweet 16" - this such a wonderful idea/gift - a revisionist essay re/dipping into the archives, and a chance for us to share in your work. I'm looking forward to wandering through and enjoying.

Happy Anniversary and enjoy the well-penned and earned rewards. Keep the cat-scratch curiosity alive!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Happy anniversary. What a feast reading these poems has been. The best of the best. Loved every word.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Thank you so much for this definitive list and explanations. I am going to take my time and read them all. For my part, I would like to say you are one of the post inspiring poets I have ever read, and I am so grateful to have known your work, and you, for most of these 10 years.

Kerry O'Connor said...

*most*
Most inspiring... (my tablet has a mind of its own and I don't check when I'm enthusiastically typing)

hedgewitch said...

Some of my all-time favorites are in here, including The Far Garden, which is if I had to pick just one, at the very top of my list, and you have made a discriminating, rewarding choice throughout of your best work. Love Poem for K, also--I stick with my original comment there--resonates even more after time. Thanks for taking the time to put these here for us--a true treasure trove, and congratulations of ten years at Word Garden!I hope I am around for the next ten.

Mama Zen said...

My God what a lot of fine poetry. I have no idea how you narrowed it down to only 16! Beeville is one of my all time favorites, and Love Poem for K is heartbreaking in its perfection. I am so glad that you do what you do, Shay. Truly, there is no one like you in all the world.

Cloudia said...

Congratulations on your accomplishments and on this important post your biographers will get much from!

Toni Spencer said...

I am looking forward to reading these. Congrats on your 10 years and for gifting these 16 to us. You are an incredible poet. I am proud to know you...even if you do hate haiku. 💖

grapeling said...

I, too, look forward to reading these. You are gifted, funny, thoughtful, sharp-edged, and (that over-used but accurate word) unique.

I would'a put that in Haiku form but figured I'd get the ban-hammer had I done so.

Magaly Guerrero said...

Catblossom and Crackblossom are completely wrong. And they know it. They just delight in being contrary.

Happiest 10th.

Anonymous said...

Ten years, and may there be a hundred more.

Paul said...

I liked your "An American Girl in The IRA" and "Fire" Don't know why exactly, guess they just struck a chord in me somehow.

Happy 10 years wordsmithing on your blog!