Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wild Weeds Poetry Contest

--I am excited to be judging the first Wild Weeds Poetry Contest in honor of Susun Weed's seven favorite weeds.  I am a serious fan of Susun's work.  My physical health and overall vibrancy in life has been vastly improved by drinking nettle and other infusions as she taught me. My sense of commitment and community as a poet has been charged and enhanced, and the name of this blog even partially inspired, by my completion of her Green Witch Intensive and initiation by her as a Green Witch two summers ago.  And my psyche is still slowly, silently, and I am sure unstoppably, being re-attuned and redirected by the hour my daughter and I spent talking with a small plant, one whose name we learned only later, during her Talking With Plants workshop. 

These experiences have nourished me as a person and also as a poet, strengthening my intuition, my sense of adventure, my capacity to zero in on the wordless core from which true words come, and my sense of how much one person really can help the world to heal.  I'm grateful to be involved in a contest that will help advance knowledge of Susun's necessary and timely work—and I'm looking forward to the poems I'll be reading over the next couple of months!  

If you are curious about my own poems and want to "know the judge" (to quote the game Apples to Apples), there are poems at my website.  Check out the Spiral!
Wild Weeds Poetry Contest Details:

--Information on the seven weeds here

--No minimum or maximum length; no entry fee

--Deadline Sept 1, 2010

--Please paste poem into the body of an email (not an attachment)

--Please put Wild Weeds Poetry Contest in subject header.

--Until the winner is announced, entries will be posted here at the Wisewomen Tradition blog--feel free to check out the competition!  The winning poem will be published on the Weed's Wisewomen website in September, and winner receives a free copy of one of Weed's books.  I'll be posting the winning poem and some honorable mentions here also, with some closing thoughts and comments.

Till then, keep it spiralling!


Violets: A Poem by Alice Dunbar-Nelson

In honor of the Susun Weed Poetry Contest, here is a poem by Alice Dunbar-Nelson in honor of one of Susun's seven favorite weeds:


by Alice Dunbar-Nelson

I had no thought of violets of late,
The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet
In wistful April days, when lovers mate
And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.
The thought of violets meant florists’ shops,
And bows and pins, and perfumed papers fine;
And garish lights, and mincing little fops
And cabarets and songs, and deadening wine.
So far from sweet real things my thoughts had strayed,
I had forgot wide fields, and clear brown streams;
The perfect loveliness that God has made.—
Wild violets shy and Heaven-mounting dreams.
And now—unwittingly, you’ve made me dream
Of violets, and my soul’s forgotten dream.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Poetry as Art Criticism

 Who says poetry "makes nothing happen"?  My Bourgeois post inspired my cousin Charlie Finch, columnist for Artnet, to send me a couple of the poems he's published as a form of art criticism 
over the years:  for example, these on  Deborah Solomon and Elizabeth Peyton, or this on Louise Bourgeois. Even though we disagree entirely about Bourgeois' art,  he has here picked up, albeit mockingly, on her very true message that it is never too late to heal from childhood wounds.  This is one of the reasons I found Bourgeois' late work at the Whitney exhibit so moving--the pain of the child was so close to the surface, and it was clear from the rest of the exhibit how much work and time it had taken her to bring it out to that point.

It's exciting, and surprising, that someone not known for writing poetry would choose serious poetry (not only light verse, which is of course used more often for political and social commentary) as a vehicle for actually conveying ideas in this day and age,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Louise Bourgeois: An Unfinished Poem

(thanks to the great Lemon Hound blog for photo!)

A couple of years ago, I was on the way to New York and poet Lee Ann Brown happened to mention that she'd enjoyed the Louise Bourgeois Retrospective at the Whitney.  I had heard legends about Bourgeois' salon, and sculptor Judy Fox had been meaning to bring me over, but I hadn't made it there and didn't really know a lot about Bourgeois' work other than the Spiders. But I knew I had to go . .  .

And yes, that exhibit's spiralling journey through the restless curiosity, wild sensuality and heroic courage of her career really blew me away.  What a journey of texture, form, and heart, to the very end when the layers of expertise were peeled back and the raw pain of some of her formative experience revealed! What an inspiration to keep growing younger in heart and soul while older in mind and skill!

I felt compelled to pull out my notebook almost immediately, even during the early totem poles on the lower levels of the exhibit, and kept writing raptly as I climbed the ramps as slowly as possible, spiralling back over and over, notebook in hand, moved over and over to words.