Simon Armitage

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While I’ve never heard of him, Simon Armitage has apparently been making quite the splash in the UK over the last 20 years. I find his educational background interesting as he originally got his first degree in Geography and second in Social Work, where as the biography on the Poetry Foundation tells us:

“He studied the impact of televised violence on young offenders. He went on to work as a probation officer for six years before focusing on poetry. Of course, his crowning achievement was becoming the Oxford Professor of Poetry in 2015, and currently works at the University of Leeds. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Literature. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Armitage was named the Millennium Poet in 1999 and a Commander of the British Empire in 2010.”

He is famous for his new translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Odyssey. For more information on his work, check out the poet’s personal website. I’m curious to read his book Walking Home: Travels with a Troubadour on the Pennine Way, where he literally depended on the strangers of others to support himself as he hiked, and read poetry for his supper, the 256 mile route through England and Scotland. 

I chose “To His Lost Lover” from The Book of Matches, 1993 and “I Kicked a Mushroom” from his latest collection, The Unaccompanied, 2017. 

“To His Lost Lover”

Now they are no longer
any trouble to each other

he can turn things over, get down to that list
of things that never happened, all of the lost

unfinishable business.
For instance… for instance,

how he never clipped and kept her hair, or drew a hairbrush
through that style of hers, and never knew how not to blush

at the fall of her name in close company.
How they never slept like buried cutlery –

two spoons or forks cupped perfectly together,
or made the most of some heavy weather –

walked out into hard rain under sheet lightning,
or did the gears while the other was driving.

How he never raised his fingertips
to stop the segments of her lips

from breaking the news,
or tasted the fruit

or picked for himself the pear of her heart,
or lifted her hand to where his own heart

was a small, dark, terrified bird
in her grip. Where it hurt.

Or said the right thing,
or put it in writing.

And never fled the black mile back to his house
before midnight, or coaxed another button of her blouse,

then another,
or knew her

favourite colour,
her taste, her flavour,

and never ran a bath or held a towel for her,
or soft-soaped her, or whipped her hair

into an ice-cream cornet or a beehive
of lather, or acted out of turn, or misbehaved

when he might have, or worked a comb
where no comb had been, or walked back home

through a black mile hugging a punctured heart,
where it hurt, where it hurt, or helped her hand

to his butterfly heart
in its two blue halves.

And never almost cried,
and never once described

an attack of the heart,
or under a silk shirt

nursed in his hand her breast,
her left, like a tear of flesh

wept by the heart,
where it hurts,

or brushed with his thumb the nut of her nipple,
or drank intoxicating liquors from her navel.

Or christened the Pole Star in her name,
or shielded the mask of her face like a flame,

a pilot light,
or stayed the night,

or steered her back to that house of his,
or said “Don’t ask me how it is

I like you.
I just might do.”

How he never figured out a fireproof plan,
or unravelled her hand, as if her hand

were a solid ball
of silver foil

and discovered a lifeline hiding inside it,
and measured the trace of his own alongside it.

But said some things and never meant them –
sweet nothings anybody could have mentioned.

And left unsaid some things he should have spoken,
about the heart, where it hurt exactly, and how often.

 

IKickedAMushroom

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Kwame Alexander

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I’ve been wanting to read him for awhile, ever since I heard about his Crossover verse novel. So in honor of National Poetry Month, I grabbed a copy of Crush: Love Poems for teens and loved it, because it showed all the different aspects of love and not just the mushy bits. Plus you gotta love any volume that includes Neruda, as I adore his 100 Love Sonnets.  Below are two of my favorite poems (especially the second one) from Crush, 2007.

“I Want You”

 

to think of me      as

Ellington thought of jazz and

Ella thought of scat     as

Lady Day thought of loss and 

Luther thought of love

 

yes, think of me

as the first aria and

the last allegro

in this symphony

of life

 

in other words

let this ancient language of love

be the music

that keeps you 

humming through the night

 

that keeps you

dancing

naked

on the

floor

 

“The Examination (AKA The Before-You-Holla Quiz)”

 

Can you study my heart, and learn to love me with your mind?

Can you lift my spirits, bench press my burdens, exercise my intellect?

Can you get deep like Atlantis, precise like Google, outstanding like 

a Serena Williams serve?

Can you love me like a book of poetry, read me over and over,

uncover the magic between my lines? 

Can you solve me like a quadratic equation, recite Neruda in Spanish?

Forget sexy, can you bring SmartBack?

Can you flirt with me like an E. Ethelbert Miller poem, tease me like

a Bossa Nova song?

Can you sweet-talk me with cotton candy on a rainy day, love me

like Nikki Giovanni loves Tupac?

Can you speak to me with your mouth closed? 

Can you kiss me 100 times with your eyes open? 

Can you love me…with your mind? 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 4-6

These are late because I couldn’t really think of someone for Day four and then was off yesterday and forgot to post, so here’s Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s posts together. Here is the original post so you know what I’m talking about. 

Day 4: Write About Someone Who Inspires You

I honestly can’t think of someone who inspires me, per se, but rather someone I admire. That person is one of my closest friends here in Phoenix, Joanna. She has been through a lot of personal drama, but still manages to be one of the nicest, most generous, hard-working, and selfless people that I know. She believes in social justice and change and is one hell of a macro social worker, even now when her job is in libraries and not in her chosen profession. She does a lot of good work and I hope she will open the hearts and minds of the people she works for at her branch library, as well as the community. 

Day 5: List 5 places you want to visit

I am going to assume they mean five places you’ve not visited yet that you want to, and I’m going to list why. So I know some of them are countries versus individual cities, but they were hard to encapsulate in a single city. 

Graben, Vienna Austria

Graben (street) in Vienna, Austria

  • Vienna, Austria – I have technically been here for 2 hrs, but couldn’t stray far from the train station as it was a stop on the way to Prague. The food, culture, opera, and history has always been fascinating, so it seems like a cool place to go to.
  • Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
  • Brandenburg Gate – Berlin, Germany
  • Berlin, Germany – I’ve never been much to eastern Germany (I was born in the western US-occupied part), but Berlin is the capital and center of history and art – mostly it’s because of the awesome art museums
  • Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir el Bahri, Egypt
  • Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir El Bahri, Egypt
  • Egypt – I love studying about Egyptian history and art, so naturally I would love to visit the real stuff. 
  • tokyo-meiji-jingu_l
  • Meiji Jengu, Tokyo, Japan
  • Japan – Always been fascinated by Japanese food, art, culture, and history and always fascinated with the juxtaposition of ancient and modern culture in the same setting, even more so with all the parks/temples in modern citiesknossos_02
  • Knossos recreation – Crete, Greece
  • Greece – My parents have been talking for years about how much they loved going there, especially my dad. Again with the food/culture/art/history fascination, but also because I have friends that live there or have family there, so I would at least have a place to stay. 

Day 6: Five Ways to Win My Heart

This is some interesting timing as things in my personal life have recently made me re-evaluate topics like this. 

  • Emotional Maturity – By this, I mean the ability to express their feelings and emotions, and can say “I love you” without prompts b/c they mean it not because they feel they have to because I am. 
  • Good with Kids – This is kind of a given as I have a five year old son, but I also work with kids, so it’s important.
  • Good Sense of Humor – laughter really is the best medicine, esp if I’m having a rough week or things feel out of control
  • Educated (at least a Bachelor’s Degree or interested in personal learning on their own) with Ambitions/Goals
  • Nerdy/Geek – I am a giant nerd/geek so would be nice to find someone either with similar interests, preferably someone who liked to read, and would be cool nerding out with me (ex. Star Wars, Dragon Age, video gaming, or whatever)