the last of the best

December 31, 2022

Here is the last of the 2022 best-of posts, and the last post of 2022.

Thank you for visiting The Poetry Department, for leaving your comments, and for adding your poetry to the riches of life here in Cascadia, here on Earth. More poetry in 2023!

on poetry

December 30, 2022

“One must write poetry in such as way that if one threw the poem in a window, the pane would break.”
Daniil Kharms
(December 30, 1905 – February 2, 1942)

. . . . .
bonus article by George Saunders

on poetry

December 29, 2022

“I’ve sometimes drawn a parallel between poets and prophets because both speak into a culture that finds it hard to listen. Both bear the burden of calling some aspect of reality to our attention.”
Luci N. Shaw
(b. December 29, 1928)

. . . . .


December 28, 2022

We will probably have one more “best-of” list before the end of the year, but meanwhile, the pundits continue to suggest worthwhile titles for your overburdened shelf. Here are a few more:

‘Tis the season. Cozy up with a book.

on poetry

December 26, 2022

“Most novices picture themselves as masters — and are content with the picture. This is why there are so few masters.”
Jean Toomer
(December 26, 1894 – March 30, 1967)

. . . . .
quote from Essentials (Hill Street Press)

Retirement Lullaby*

December 25, 2022

2022 Walk Award
By Bliss Goldstein

So it Begins.
This new phase of life calls for me. I strain to hear
my name. It was Worker. Before. Mom. Before. Daughter.
Before. Did I have a name before, before I was born?
Soul. Cactus. Elm. Dog. Red Rover, Red Rover send
Baby Boomer over. As my identity dies, I am living
without a funeral. No more work. No more children.
My posture is stooped. My hair is white. My voice is
hoarse. No matter how loud my cries shout from
inside this body I Am Here, the world is the one
that grows deaf. My ears attune to something old
approaching the earth’s core. It sings me to sleep
with its dirt-saturated lullaby.
The clouds are your cradle, the pine trees your spine,
the ocean to ladle your heart within mine,
with the time you have left you can finally see,
you are divine to your Mother and me
. If I am living
on sacred time, I pray that I will always hear the
selkie call of my own heart’s truest desire. I can find
her in air, water, earth. Without roots I can grow
new ones. Today I will slow. Breathe. Empty my mind
into the cool mountain streams. Today I will bend
towards the waving lavender lining the driveway.
Inhale. Paint my heart purple. Begin. Begin. Begin.
Begin the After.

*Copyright © 2022 by Bliss Goldstein. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Poet’s bio:
Bliss Goldstein, MLA, has written for publications from The San Francisco Chronicle to Spider Magazine. She taught writing at Western Washington University and was Founding Editor of Tangents magazine at Stanford University. She and her husband ran a real estate company until recently, and she is now semi-retired. “I wrote Retirement Lullaby out of my surprise at how hard it was to actually go down the retirement path. In some ways it’s the Silent Transition; you have what many people dream of and yet no one tells you how much will have to die in the process of giving birth to this new life. I hope my poem helps others not to feel alone on their retirement journey, while kindling new hope for what lies ahead.”

poetry of maps of poetry

December 24, 2022

If you want to find out about a place, listen to its poets; if you want to find its poets, read the map. Here’s a sampling of maps that demonstrate just how much poetry is around us:

A number of cities (e.g., Denver, Dublin, Nanaimo) have used Google to map local poetry; search for “City Poetry Map” (replacing the desired city for the word City).

Put your poem on the map. Some are still accepting submissions.

language, visible

December 23, 2022

Jaume Plensa is a Barcelona artist whose most recognizable work is architectural-scale sculpture commissioned for sites throughout the world.

The Shard, itself a quite-recognizable elongated pyramidal structure at London Bridge, is home to one of Plensa’s most recent public artworks, “WE,” (photo above) which uses letters and characters from seven alphabets. (Follow the link to read and see more of WE.)

The artist’s use of language is both visual and metaphorical. To see more, have a look at his current exhibit at Fundación Bancaja in Valencia, Spain, “Poesía del silencio.” The site is in Spanish, but click through the Fotos to see the many ways that Plensa makes language — and silence — visible.

Best-of season No. 3

December 22, 2022

Here’s the third round of recommendations for the best poetry books of 2022:

Your recommendations and comments are always welcome!

a season to dream

December 21, 2022

Snowed in? Perhaps this is a good time to dream of a getaway. The mission of the Cascadia Artist in Residence Network (CAiRN) is to support, advocate, and communicate about artist-in-residence programs in the Cascadia region located in the northwestern United States. Have a look at the residencies on offer and the application deadlines.

CAiRN’s list is a great start, but not comprehensive. Other residencies include The Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, The Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center, Voices of the Wilderness, Writing Between the Vines, Oregon Caves Artist-in-Residence, the Creative Residency program at Bloedel Reserve, and Rockland, among others.

Residencies vary widely in timing, costs/support, and facilities. Applications for 2023 or 2024 may be available or you can get on a mailing list to be notified of upcoming application deadlines. Happy dreaming!

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