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Saturday, December 31, 2022
“I started writing poetry when I was about 13.” – Al Purdy
Canadian poet Purdy's writing career spanned 56 years. His works included a remarkable 39 books of poetry, 1 novel, 2 volumes of memoirs and 4 books of correspondence. He has been called Canada's "unofficial poet laureate” and "a national poet in a way that you only find occasionally in the life of a culture." Born on Dec. 30, 1918, he lived to be 81 and wrote almost daily. His death bed, in fact, was cluttered with pieces he was composing.
For Saturday’s Poem, here is Purdy’s.
Listening to Myself
I see myself
staggering through deep snow
lugging blocks of wood yesterday
an old man
almost falling from bodily weakness
— look down on myself from above
then front and both sides
white hair — wrinkled face and hands
it's really not very surprising
that love spoken by my voice
should be when I am listening
yet there it is
a foolish old man with brain on fire
stumbling through the snow
— the loss of love
that comes to mean more
than the love itself
and how explain that?
— a still pool in the forest
that has ceased to reflect anything
except the past
— remains a sort of half-love
that is akin to kindness
and I am angry remembering
remembering the song of flesh
to flesh and bone to bone
the loss is better
Friday, December 30, 2022
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Monday, December 26, 2022
“Imagination... its limits are only those of the mind itself.” – Rod Serling
Serling was born in Syracuse, NY, on Christmas Day 1924 and had a vast and multi-talented imagination, producing some of the most creative and lasting pieces ever written.
Known best for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his science-fiction anthology TV series The Twilight Zone, Serling also was active in politics, both on and off the screen, and helped form television industry standards. He was known as “the angry young man" of Hollywood, clashing with television executives and sponsors over a wide range of issues including censorship, racism, and war.
A World War II Army veteran who was badly wounded, Serling had strong opinions about war and the use of military force and became one of the most outspoken anti-war activists up until his sudden death in 1975 at age 50. His lead-in piece to what would become The Twilight Zone actually dealt with America’s entrance into World War II. His story concerned a man who has vivid nightmares of the attack on Pearl Harbor and goes to a psychiatrist. The “twist ending” to the story (a device for which Serling became famous) reveals that the "patient" actually had died at Pearl Harbor, and the psychiatrist is the one having the vivid dreams.
Serling had ambitions to be an actor but “had some things to get off my chest,” which led to his writing career and, ultimately a place in America’s cultural history. He is indelibly woven into modern popular culture because of The Twilight Zone. Even youth of today can hum its haunting theme song, and the title itself is a synonym for all things unexplainable.
"I think," he once said, "every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull."
Saturday, December 24, 2022
“Poems, for me, begin as a social engagement. I want to establish a kind of sociability or even hospitality at the beginning of a poem. The title and the first few lines are a kind of welcome mat where I am inviting the reader inside.” – Billy Collins
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Collins is a distinguished professor in New York where he has been affiliated with the faculties of several colleges and universities and currently is at Stony Brook Southampton. Among his many honors and awards are The Norman Mailer Prize for Poetry, the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, and The Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. For Saturday’s Poem, here is Collins',
The first thing I heard this morning
was a soft, insistent rustle,
the rapid flapping of wings
against glass as it turned out,
a small bird rioting
in the frame of a high window,
trying to hurl itself through
the enigma of transparency into the spacious light.
A noise in the throat of the cat
hunkered on the rug
told me how the bird had gotten inside,
carried in the cold night
through the flap in a basement door,
and later released from the soft clench of teeth.
Up on a chair, I trapped its pulsations
in a small towel and carried it to the door,
so weightless it seemed
to have vanished into the nest of cloth.
But outside, it burst
from my uncupped hands into its element,
dipping over the dormant garden
in a spasm of wingbeats
and disappearing over a tall row of hemlocks.
Still, for the rest of the day,
I could feel its wild thrumming
against my palms whenever I thought
about the hours the bird must have spent
pent in the shadows of that room,
hidden in the spiky branches
of our decorated tree, breathing there
among metallic angels, ceramic apples, stars of yarn,
its eyes open, like mine as I lie here tonight
picturing this rare, lucky sparrow
tucked into a holly bush now,
a light snow tumbling through the windless dark.
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Wednesday, December 21, 2022