Your Precious Life

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Photo Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020 — Quote from poem The Summer Day by Mary Oliver https://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/133.html

The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) author and Pulitzer Prize winning poet.
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/mary-oliver

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Poetry Clipart 09

‘Ode to the Cat’ by Pablo Neruda

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Rescue cat JoJo does not want to sleep © Gretchen Bernet-Ward

EXTRACT FROM ‘ODE TO THE CAT’

by Pablo Neruda

… Oh independent wild beast

of the house

arrogant

vestige of the night,

lazy, gymnastic

and alien,

very deep cat,

secret policeman

of bedrooms,

insignia

of a

disappeared velvet,

surely there is no

enigma

in your manner,

perhaps you are not a mystery,

everyone knows of you

and you belong

to the least mysterious inhabitant,

perhaps everyone believes it,

everyone believes himself the owner,

proprietor,

uncle

of a cat,

companion,

colleague,

disciple

or friend

of his cat …

READ THE FULL POEM

https://www.librarything.com/topic/26410
Listed Number 8 originally from ‘Odes to Common Things’ by poet Pablo Neruda 

There are several different translations from Chilean Spanish to English:
https://leonarddurso.com/2013/07/22/from-ode-to-a-cat-by-pablo-neruda/
http://unmasking.tripod.com/poemless/pn20.htm
https://amiracarluccio.com/2017/10/19/long-poems-ode-to-a-cat-by-pablo-neruda-oda-al-gato/
https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/ode-to-the-cat/

Poetry Clipart 14PROFILE

Pablo Neruda (1904–1973) born Parral, Chile.
Attended Chile University and became a poet, politician, activist, diplomat.
National Prize for Literature Chile (1945)
International Peace Prize (1950)
Lenin Peace Prize (1953)
American Academy of Arts and Letters (Foreign Honorary ∙ Literature ∙ 1968)
Nobel Prize in Literature (1971)
Golden Wreath (1972)

He was perhaps the most important Latin American poet of the 20th century and for a deeper look at his intriguing life I recommend https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Pablo_Neruda

‘AS EVERY CAT OWNER KNOWS, NOBODY OWNS A CAT’ — Ellen Perry Berkeley

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Laugh in the Bath

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Aussie Koala bath toy 2020 © Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Bath Laugh 3

Sitting in my bath I heard a great big glug

Followed by a bubble followed by the plug

I must have pulled it out but I didn’t know

The water in my bath it began to go

It was getting lower way below my knees

I was getting colder and I began to freeze

I put a towel round me to try and get some heat

There I saw the plug lying at my feet

Then I picked it up off the bathroom floor

Put it back into the bath and filled it up once more.

Poem
by
William Worthless

“I like writing poems for everyone and try to bring enjoyment and make people feel happy after reading.”

March 2010 © William Worthless

More poems https://hellopoetry.com/william-worthless/

Raindrop

‘Ebb’ Poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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‘Ebb’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in Rockland, Maine USA, on 22 February 1892.  Edna’s poetry and playwright collections include The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver (Flying Cloud Press 1922) winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and Renascence and Other Poems (Harper 1917)

Edna St Vincent Millay Poet 02

Edna won a scholarship to Vassar College and became famous during her lifetime for her poetry with its passionate, formal lyrics, her flame-red hair, outspoken political views and unconventional lifestyle.  She died on 18 October, 1950, in Austerlitz, New York.

Poets https://poets.org/poem/ebb
Poetry Foundation https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/55993/renascence

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Friendship and ‘A Time to Talk’ with Robert Frost

As we all know,

Christmas is fast approaching,

the silly season has begun,

in gift shops,

in department stores,

kids unable to settle in the classroom,

grass is brown and dry,

barbecue grills are being checked,

sunscreen is stockpiled,

food is flying off the supermarket shelves,

chlorine levels are dosed,

wrapping paper is being unfurled,

groups are having break-up parties,

bells jingle in the hands of Santa as he strolls through the mall,

queues in to the carpark,

queues out of the carpark,

tempers rise,

decisions have to be made about Christmas lunch,

European or Australian,

the temperature is predicted to be in the high 30°s Celsius,

the air-conditioning struggles at midday,

birds welcome the water in birdbaths,

dog water bowls appear outside cafés,

hats and beach umbrellas are selling fast,

flashy new decorations for an old tree,

family car washed and waxed ready to collect grandparents,

music is Christmas themed,

commercials blare out what we need for a happy fun festive season,

there is more than one man behind Christmas,

the wealth in the world prefers to use a generic symbol,

An old lady sits alone on the edge of her bed,

tears in her eyes,

sad for what is lost,

sad for who has gone,

that t-shirt-stained boy who sits on a park bench,

heatwaves shimmering off the concrete path,

wondering if he will see his Dad,

wondering if he will get a present,

put it under the tree he created from twigs,

we need each other,

we need our friends,

text a lunch date,

money spent at Christmastime isn’t going to mean much,

if there’s nobody to reminisce with in the new year,

friends share your life whether it seems like it or not,

they are part of you.

© Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

“A Time to Talk”

 

WHEN a friend calls to me from the road    

And slows his horse to a meaning walk,       

I don’t stand still and look around    

On all the hills I haven’t hoed,          

And shout from where I am, What is it?             

No, not as there is a time to talk.      

I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,          

Blade-end up and five feet tall,         

And plod: I go up to the stone wall   

For a friendly visit.

 

Robert Frost (1874–1963)

Poetry Collection “Mountain Interval” 1920

 

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Audre Lorde, Poet

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Audre Geraldine Lorde was born on February 1934 in New York City, and went on to become a leading African-American poet and essayist who gave voice to issues of race, gender and sexuality.

Lorde’s love of poetry started at a young age, and she began writing as a teenager.  She attended Hunter College, working to support herself through school.  After graduating in 1959, she went on to get a master’s degree in library science from Columbia University in 1961 and was head librarian at Town School Library in New York City.

‘The Black Unicorn’ (1978), a volume in which Lorde explored her African heritage, is considered one of her greatest works by many critics.  In addition to poetry, Lorde was a powerful essayist and writer.

In terms of her nonfiction work, Lorde is best remembered for ‘The Cancer Journals’ (1980) in which she documents her own struggle with breast cancer.  She died November 1992 on the US island of St. Croix.

Information from The Biography.com website  https://www.biography.com/scholar/audre-lorde

Citation Information

Article Title
Audre Lorde Biography

Author
Biography.com Editors

Website Name
The Biography.com website

Access Date
November 27, 2019

Publisher
A&E Television Networks

Last Updated
April 16, 2019

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Quotation from Cesare Pavese

Cesare Pavese was an Italian novelist, poet and translator, and an outspoken literary and political critic.

Not well-known outside Italy, Pavese is numbered highly among the important 20th century authors in his home country.

Born in rural Santo Stefano Belbo, he often returned to the area, enjoying the solitude away from his turbulent career and heartbroken love life.  Pavese was not destined to live long, he died just before his 42 birthday.

Cesare_Pavese_Italian_Novelist_Poet_1930
Cesare Pavese (1930) rocking his Harry Potter glasses.

✨ Website Biography and Book Review

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/cesare-pavese
https://1streading.wordpress.com/2018/06/24/the-beautiful-summer/

✨ Cesare Pavese Poems

  1. The Cats Will Know
  2. Ancestors
  3. Habits
  4. You Have A Face Of Carved Stone
  5. Death Will Come With Your Eyes
  6. In The Morning You Always Come Backmy favourite
  7. Passion For Solitude from ‘Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950’.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Poetry Journey of Kate O’Neil

The personal experiences of poet Kate O’Neil offer a diverse and interesting look into the creative world of poetry.

After chatting to Kate over our shared memories of the old poem ‘Wynken, Blynken and Nod’ she kindly showed me her ‘waking up’ version (excerpt below) which fits beautifully with the original.  Kate then agreed to answer some tricky questions for me and her responses are both thoughtful and revealing.


Welcome, Kate!

Kate-ONeil-2001

Thank you so much for your time.
My favourite poem of yours is short and sweet; ‘Paragliders Bald Hill Lookout’ invokes in my mind’s eye vivid colour, movement and summer days at the beach.
Talking of short and sweet, I recall asking you which would you choose ‘Lollipop or Cake?’ and you immediately said ‘Cake’, supplying a recipe with almonds smothered on top.  I can identify with that!
I had read your work on Australian Children’s Poetry under Kate O’Neil and recently discovered your real name is Dianne Cook.  You explain why in our Q&A, and give readers a peek behind the scenes of your poetry life.

Okay, let’s get those thoughts into words…


What highlights stand out in your poetry journey?

I’ve been hanging out with poetry for most of my life, so there have been lots of decades for highlights to happen in.

Highlights of poetry reading still happen with amazing frequency.  They began when I first realised what magical particles words and sounds are, and what selection, arrangement, combination – even omission, can play in shaping and delivering meaning.  There were the ‘greats’ I studied at school – some fantastic stuff there, and I’ve stored many riches from them.  But the thing is – poetry keeps on coming.  There are poets all over the world publishing collections, submitting to competitions and anthologies and magazines – and sharing a way of seeing.  Some poems have knocked me flat, left me breathless.  Some have lifted me to heaven; it’s a great ride.

There have been highlights of poetry writing, too.  For years the only public airing of my poems was in eisteddfod performances by drama students for whom I had written them (but who did not know this – hence my use of a pen-name).  There have been lovely moments hearing something performed well.

A major ‘highlight’ was having my submission to the inaugural (and only) Manchester Writing for Children prize short-listed.  This competition was set up by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s team at Manchester Uni.

There have been some wonderful outcomes from this.  These poems were published in Let in the Stars, the competition anthology, and one of them has since been chosen for inclusion by Roger McGough in his anthology Happy PoemsAND I have kept in touch with several other poets in the book.  I love the book.  I love so many of the poems in it, and the illustrations (by Manchester art students) are wonderful.

Since then I’ve made successful submissions to several magazines and anthologies – for adults and children.  See ‘Cool Poems’ information further down.  And I keep on submitting – (loads of rejections, of course).

Kate O'Neil Bookcovers 2019
See OOPS! at the end of Q&A for more book details.

Is there a significant thread through your creativity?

I would say not.  If anyone ever notices one I‘d like to be told.  At the Manchester Prize event, Mandy Coe (one of the judges) commented that I write in a variety of voices / styles.  She suggested it might be the influence of drama teaching.  I don’t know if that was praise or not.  Aren’t we writers meant to ‘find our voice’?

What challenges do you face when beginning a poem?

Nothing like the challenges of finishing it.  If a beginning (or middle) pops into my head at an inconvenient moment, I fear it will vanish if I don’t get it down on paper or in the notes on my phone.  This makes my amount of ‘screen time’ look dangerous.

Are you inspired or influenced by another poet?

Inevitably, and I could never know how many.  I’ve done some online workshops recently with UK poet Wendy Pratt, whose work I admire.  She, and others in the group, have helped me tighten my writing.  Lots of deleting went on.

Can you name just one of your favourite poems?

James Carter UK Children's Poet
James Carter UK Children’s Poet

You are asking this of someone whose word files are loaded with favourites!  If they are in the cloud, it will rain my favourite poems one day.  What if I narrow this to ‘favourite poem for children’?  Or better still, ‘favourite concrete / shape poem for children’?  I can do that.  It’s ‘The Moon Speaks!’ by James Carter.  It’s on his website:

http://www.jamescarterpoet.co.uk/poems.html

What is your definition of a successful poem?

This is getting difficult.  There are so many ways in which a poem can succeed (or fail).  I think I’d rate a poem’s success (for me) by the state I’m in after reading it.

How did you feel about poetry when growing up?

I’ve probably answered this in the first question.  I had no discrimination, but anything with rhyme, rhythm, sound patterns, imagery caught my attention.  Hymns, advertising jingles, greeting cards, bush ballads…

Do you draw on your own childhood memories?

Yes, at times, but much of that grist is still very much in the mill.

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Excerpt from Kate O’Neil verse expanding on the traditional children’s poem.

Have you experienced an awkward poetry moment?

Mostly private ones. (‘What? Did I really write that?’)

Are you a day dreamer or do you plan significant goals?

Genetically inclined to dreaming, but I try to impose goals to counter this.  (Hence the Wendy Pratt courses which involved writing on a prompt a day for four of the past six months).

Can you give us a hint about your work-in-progress?

‘Progress’ plays tricks on me? I have drafts of picture books, a chapter book, jottings for poems – ALL OVER THE SHOP!  Sometimes something gets finished, usually unexpectedly, usually when I think I am working on something else – and I send it somewhere.  Results are mixed.  This morning, for instance, I learned I have TWO poems long-listed in a comp (adult) and they will be published in an anthology.  Last week I sent off a poem I quite liked to The School Magazine just before I left for Sydney.  By the time I got there it had been rejected.

Do you have some guiding words for emerging poets?

I think it better to share another poet’s words that have guided me.  The main one is READ.

Jo Bell web image credit Lee Allen
Jo Bell web image credit Lee Allen

Jo Bell quote:  “If there is one thing I want you to take from this book, it is this: Nobody writes good poetry without reading good poetry.  Those who don’t take this seriously invariably write cliched, derivative and unoriginal work – just what we all want to avoid – because they aren’t aware of the context in which they are writing.”

‘52: A Year of Poetry Writing Prompts’  p11.  Jo Bell   Nine Arches Press 2015

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OOPS!  I haven’t mentioned the publication last year of my ‘Cool Poems’.  This was a major highlight!  The book belongs in a series published by Triple D Press, Wagga Wagga NSW.  It was a nail-biting thing to have a book which would sit alongside collections by Australians Bill Scott, Anne Bell, Colin Thiele, Christobel Mattingley and Max Fatchen.  Many thanks to Zita Denholm (Triple D) and Christina Booth (illustrator) for helping it happen.

Di Bates, editor of Buzz Words Magazine, wrote a lovely review on 23 December 2018 ‘Buzz Words: Cool Poems’.

The book Cool Poems’ can be ordered through my website www.kateoneil.com.au or by messaging me through Facebook.

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‘Cool Poems’ The Kate O’Neil Reciter, illustrations Christina Booth, publisher Triple D Books.


Thank you, Kate!

It has been delightful making your acquaintance and learning more about the workings behind your poetry.  I look forward to reading many more of your beautiful poems.  Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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‘Undrought’ Poem by Casey Williams

Undrought

The year has barely started,
The ringers still on leave,
The wet is running late this year,
Lord, bring us our reprieve.

The North is bloody thirsty
The cows are calving down
The grass is getting sparser
And the ground is turning brown

It’s been this way a while now
Too long, in fact, for some
The dry is taking over
When will the rain please come?

At last the clouds are building
And the frogs are crying out
I wonder if they know at all,
What’s due to come about?

A couple inches, you bloody beaut!
What a blessed sight,
The sound of raindrops on the roof,
I’ll listen up all night.

Another night, and then again,
She’s getting fairly damp,
The river’s running beautifully,
She’s really set up camp.

Again and again, it hammers down,
In drowning, vicious waves,
We hate to sound ungrateful
But rain, please go away.

At last the drought is broken
But so are all our hearts
Homes are under water
Lives are ripped apart

No warning of the enormity
No chance to get ahead
Just paralysed by water
And what we will find dead

The land has gone from Barron
To an ocean, vast and brown
The calves are drowned or frozen
Their mothers, bogging down.

The rain has finished finally
The world turned upside down
There’s cattle stuck in trees
Dead wildlife on the ground.

The North just copped a big one
We’re hurting far and wide
Our community’s a strong one
But we need you on our side

Don’t kick us while we’re down
Don’t say we have no shame
You want to see compassion
Drive up here, see our pain.

I for one, could not be prouder
Of the industry up here
It’s one of strength and courage,
Through drought, through flood and fear

I say this to all affected
To those who’ve lost so much
You’re the backbone of this country
Keep talking, stay in touch

You’ve got your mates behind you
To help with all your doubts
We can rebuild together
The sunshine has come out.

by Casey Williams

Saturday 16 Feb 2019 ABC Brisbane Queensland Australia
Also blog post Drought
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Queensland Map