Marin Poetry Center Writing Retreat
Cretaceous Moth Trapped in Amber (Lament in Two Voices) By Katrina Vandenberg (From The Alphabet not Unlike the World, Milkweed, 2012) What a shame I have nothing to give you but midnight, my story Little moth caught forever in the last moment of before, Of five French soldiers with identically shaved heads, when the dusk was thick with incense and crickets the one who kissed my mouth as the others watched. on the forest floor. What were you stammering toward Their green nylon jackets, their laced boots, their laughter, the night you got stuck, a moon lost in thought the glass wall of the lit phone booth they pushed me against. as it cast its glistening net over tree frogs, over the mites I got away. But when I reached my unlit street punctuating the laddered webs of orb weavers, and they were still following me, I had to choose: over the orb weavers about to be lodged in resin break for the host family’s door? Or light back themselves? This is the story now under glass, to the phone booth, to the main drag, where honeyed and see-through: a palm of red-gold yellow headlights kept slipping by? I wanted beads traded for swords and furs in the Viking town home. I choose the glass box, thought I feared it a trap. of Dublin. And in millions of years I moved toward the lights. the moon has not changed; it is still perched Today I know that saved my life. in its starry web, dropping its sticky strands. But you know what I am saying, moth. The world has not changed; there is still a great deal It could have just as easily been different. of getting caught in it, you must choose.
Two haiku by Matsuo Basho: Full moon in August --- walking round the lake, the whole night May rain pouring in, the Mogami river rushing by
Craft: One way of thinking about haiku is as two images that crash together to evocate a third image. Using juxtaposition, a poem can take flight and live not directly in what is written but in what is conjured. The poem functions as a route to an aesthetic experience that is made collaboratively with the poem and the reader. Another way we see juxtaposition in poetry is through the process of collage — of bringing disparate materials together and layering them together in ways that shadow onto each other. Katrina Vandenburg’s poem is one of my favorite examples of juxtaposition between previously unconnected sources. Marjorie Perloff has a short but illuminating essay about collage and poetry here.
Prompt: Write a poem that brings together two different sources. This might include journal writing, fortunes, news stories, horoscopes, an almanac, a travel guide, instructions for using a blender, street signs, letters, dictionary entries, and anything else you come across.
Journal: Both the haiku and the Vandenberg’s poem lend themselves to writing about nature. Gail Entrekin is the editor of a wonderful online journal called Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis. She is currently taking submissions of poems that touch on issues such as climate change, habitat loss, and pollution.
Recipe: Oatmeal with nut butter
1) Add ½ cup dry oats for each person
2) Add twice as much water as oats
3) add one tablespoon nut butter. I like unsweetened sunflower seed butter but much prefer hazelnut butter.
4) add raisins (this is not optional)
5) Keep the lid on the pot and heat on low-medium for longer than you would expect.
(as you can see, I’m an excellent cook.)
Addendum: I’ve just realized that tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Don’t make oatmeal, make waffles and not just for moms but anyone dedicated to the care and well being of theres.