Saturday
Dec182010

Moments of the Soul

In 2010, Spirit First put out a call for poems on the themes of meditation, mindfulness, silence, stillness and solitude. With this simple gesture, the nonprofit organization promoting meditation and mindfulness, kicked off their first annual poetry contest.

Response was overwhelming: A flood of 741 poems, from 42 states, and 23 countries.

Winners were chosen. Poems posted. Cash prizes awarded.

But that wasn't enough.

Recognizing the bounty of good work, Spirit First Director Diana Christine Woods suggested a book.

The result is Moments of the Soul: Poems of meditation and mindfulness by writers of every faith. The book features 84 poems by 61 poets from all over the world.

I am honored to be a contest winner and to have two poems — Unless You and Last Light — in the book. And I am grateful for the steady, earnest effort of Diana Christine Woods, and humbled to be in the company of so many creative, introspective writers.

Moments of the Soul can be purchased ($12) here and here.

 

Wednesday
May052010

Windfall - Spring 2010

I am honored to be in the company of notable poets in the Spring issue of Windfall: A Journal of Poetry of Place.

In a world papered with publications, editors Bill Siverly and Michael McDowell carve a unique niche by emphasizing poetry "written in the Pacific Northwest and which is attentive to the relationships between people and the landscapes in which we live."

 

A Shape Half Gone

It's been a year since I came to this beach, where
where we gathered as sisters, spread blankets and limbs
across warm sand and let the strained sun lull us
while the girls dug trenches, climbed rocks, found
shells the shape of hearts.

A year since I spoke the word, knowing
now how rape divides all time and banter, each
of us sliced by the severity of its cut.

You find heart-shaped stones at every turn.
From walks you return full, love spilling
from hands and pockets.

When I admire the rocks arranged on the mantel
you're surprised I have not found the same.
But they're everywhere, you say.

And I think of fall leaves fading,
the moon crescent against ebb tide.
Everything half gone, while you see plenty.

When I married, the pastor asked me to repeat
"In plenty and in one."
Of course, I thought, but my husband said,
"In plenty and in want."

Is there a difference?

Last year on this beach, I wasn't looking for
rock solid love, wasn't searching for a shape 
to contain.

Instead, your daughter found a heart-shaped shell. 
In its center, a perfect hole. No crack or ripple
but smooth, as if just born.

- Drew Myron 


Friday
Jan012010

Spirit First

Where do poems come from? How does stillness become wordness, become idea, become poem? I have no immediate answers but I keep asking the questions. And now I am grateful to stand in a circle of writers plumbing the depths along with me.

Spirit First has announced winners of their first annual Meditation Poetry Contest and I am honored that my poem was awarded first place. 

Unless you

visit the dark places, you'll never
feel the sea pull you in and under,
swallowing words before they form.
Until you visit places within you
cloistered and constant, you will travel
in a tourist daze, wrought with too much
of what endures, depletes.

If you never turn from light, close
your eyes, feel the life inside, you'll leave
the church, the beach, your self,
knowing nothing more.

Unless you are mute, you will not
know your urgent heart, how it beats
between the thin skin of yes and no.

 

— Drew Myron

 

• • •

 

I'm happy to announce that one of my favorite poems recently won first place in the Tallahassee Writers Association's Penumbra poetry contest.

The poem — Fern, talus, tide — is featured in the Seven Hills Review, TWA's annual journal published in March.


Fern, talus, tide

It's salal, he says, but I don't know how
to say what he touches, how to make the
words that form new memory

It's alder, birch, spruce,
a shore pine edge in offshore wind
We drive through days of dictionary

pages, catalog a new land of heather,
and fern, talus and basalt
Surrounded by twisting syllables

and vines of vowels, we reach new ground
Our tongues trip over fresh formations:
alsea, siltcoos, siuslaw

On hands and knees,
we sort through language
slow and halting, finally give up

to touch earth instead
Wordless, we hunt for smooth rock,
broken shell, soundless objects

that will speak for us
It's ocean now, not asphalt and engines,
that rushes and recedes

Current and tide,
sunbreaks and river roads
a new vocabulary that says home

— Drew Myron


• • •

 

The data is grim. There are 35 million people worldwide – a 10% increase over 2005 – living with Alzheimer's disease. According to a 2009 report , the number of people with Alzheimer's is expected to nearly double every 20 years, to 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050.

In the shadow of these numbers, I am honored to be included in Beyond Forgetting, a book of poetry and prose dedicated to people who have lived — and died — with Alzheimer's (Read the New York Times review here).

It is a powerful book, a weave of voices from husbands, wives, sons, daughters and grandchildren — each touched by this disease. 

I'm honored to have "Erosion," a poem about my grandfather included in the book. My grandparents Bart and Lu (Lucinda or Lucy) Myron were wheat farmers in Washington's Spokane Valley. After 40 years of farming, they retired and spent winters in the Arizona desert. In their last years, they lived with my parents. Bart lived to nearly 95 (just a few months shy) and Lu lived to 97.

Erosion

Who knows how
the mind files memory?

Missing pieces, your
history, this life, lies
three states to the south —

lost rusted cars, bindweed
decay in the sun

wild geese fight winds
that rattle shingles, shake doors

your vacant eyes sort
through weeds, neglect

memory somersaults
lands against antelope
bones blanched in desert heat —

futile to search for data:
the face of a son, the hand of the wife
price of wheat, words,
any words to rise, rescue us

from this wait,
this long silent loss.

- Drew Myron

 

• • •

How many people does it take to make a poem?

I’ve been re-reading Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions, a volume of playfully sophisticated couplet queries, and I’m finding my own thoughts now nuanced with rumination.

This latest examination stems from the arrival of The MacGuffin (Spring/Summer 2009), a handsome literary journal from Schoolcraft College in Michigan. My poem Lucy Loses a Limb appears in this issue, and I am giddy as an actress thanking the Academy.

A few months ago, while doing a radio interview promoting Seashore Family Literacy’s Young Writers program, the host asked about poetic influences. This is not a trick question. Still, my head swirled with possibilities, my voice cracked and I could render just a few of my favorites, delivered in a thin voice bereft of the appreciation I carry for writers who weave words and feeling into a handful of carefully crafted lines.

How many people does it take to make a poem?

My Lucy poem — written in the voice of my 95 year-old grandmother — is just 16 lines but the thread of influence is deep and wide. A poem is born long before the first word arrives. If we’re lucky, the piece takes shape from the beautiful mash of people and places, wounds and worries, and the books and writers that help form our voice and view. Once on the page, we are lucky if our words are questioned, honed and revised by numerous hearts, minds and eyes.

No poem — or story, or painting — is born in isolation. All life is influence, gratefully.

Lucy Loses a Limb

After 75 years
I didn’t bury a husband.
I lost a limb.

Each day a swift new cut:
the upper arm, the elbow, every finger
and then the thumb.
There is paralysis where
ache meets absence.

At night, when I turn to talk across
the dark, my voice is heavy as hay bales,
thick with the grit of memory.

I feel the throb of
phantom fingers,
erased one
by one.

 - Drew Myron

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