Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Two Poets Meet at the Skagit River Poetry Festival

James Crews, Poet
I love when the world makes sense. When dates and geographies collide so that two poets who previously had not known of the other's existence get a chance to meet in person at the Odd Fellows Hall in La Conner, WA.

So here's the story: a poet friend in London, Kelly Davio, sent me a FB post of my poem "Different Places to Pray" which had been published 8 years ago in the Times Literary Supplement (London). Alongside the poem, someone named James Crews had written an accompanying piece explicating the poem and excerpting an essay on travel that I wrote long ago...

I wondered who this James Crews character was ---- I assumed by the London publication and his name that Crews was English and London based. After all, Sara Crewe was a favorite book of mine when I was a child and it sounds almost the same.

Instead, James Crews turns out to be an outstanding American poet. Instead, the same week that the Times Literary Supplement republishes "Different Ways to Pray," I meet James at the Skagit River Poetry Festival and have the pleasure of hearing him read his work.

Sometimes the world works with a lyric lift, a serendipitous surrender.

God Particles
Related Poem Content Details


I could almost hear their soft collisions

on the cold air today, but when I came in,

shed my layers and stood alone by the fire,

I felt them float toward me like spores

flung far from their source, having crossed

miles of oceans and fields unknown to most

just to keep my body fixed to its place

on the earth. Call them God if you must,

these messengers that bring hard evidence

of what I once was and where I have been—

filling me with bits of stardust, whaleskin,

goosedown from the pillow where Einstein

once slept, tucked in his cottage in New Jersey,

dreaming of things I know I’ll never see.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

So This Happened -- 8 Years Later!

More poems with profiteroles needed!

Several summers ago, my friend, poet Allen Braden, told me about a poetry contest that was organized by the Times Literary Supplement (London). He told me he thought I had a chance and so I sent in some poems. Amazingly, "Different Places to Pray" was declared a Finalist, and then eventually won First Prize. 

Winning this prize was a great honor and an odd one. The TLS poetry editor was dying at the time he chose my poem. After the contest, the annual competition ended. I cashed the check and the moment receded into the background.

Now eight years later, my poem is the Poem of the Week, at the Times Literary Supplement. Poet James Crews has written a cogent analysis of my work and the home page of TLS is a bowl of profiteroles. What more could a girl ask --- eight years after the fact?

Here's an excerpt of the article: 

“Different Places to Pray”, first published in the TLS in 2008, depicts a woman doing her best to locate a sense of the numinous within this world. She is prepared to “jettison everything” to find it; losing keys, socks, money and time in order to follow “the ghost of her heart”. Midway through the poem, however, she seems to accept that most of us, religious or not, must spend our days before the “clock stops”, “decoding messages” from and finding meaning mainly in those commonplace things that surround us. Although she confesses she would rather have “a compass / rose, a star chart”, some simpler set of directions or “text support messages” to follow, her final question suggests that most people, at some point, will                 to continue reading, click here

Here's the poem's first lines: 

Different Places to Pray

Everywhere, everywhere she wrote; something is falling –
a ring of keys slips out of her pocket into the ravine below;

nickels and dimes and to do lists; duck feathers from a gold pillow.
Everywhere someone is losing a favorite sock or a clock stops

circling the day; everywhere she goes she follows the ghost of her heart;
jettisons everything but the shepherd moon, the hopeless cause.

This is the way a life unfolds: decoding messages from profiteroles,
the weight of mature plums in autumn. She’d prefer a compass

rose, a star chart, text support messages delivered from the net,
even the local pet shop – as long as some god rolls away the gloss

to continue reading, click here