“This Is Just To Report” – Poem as a Journalist Taking a Poetry Class

When you’re a poet going for a journalism degree, filling out the teacher evaluation after attending your first ever poetry writing class, but stylistically have always been a journalist amongst poets. I added actual constructive criticism afterward, but couldn’t not write this down once the idea occurred to me.

In case the allusion isn’t obvious, check out the original William Carlos Williams poem.

This class was taught by poet Brenda Cárdenas, and I enrolled specifically because she was the teacher. I plan to take another in spring, one which deals with book layout. On my computer sits got a decade-long backlog of poems waiting to be published, so this class should prove convenient and helpful. The writing has been done, that’s the important part. Publishing can always happen later.

Advertisements

A Poem – In Case of Emergency

Americans are so bad at death. Once someone dies it’s like they end up in a time capsule that is never questioned or discussed. Here’s a poem remembering somebody’s unpredictable sense of humor that flourished regardless. Click the arrows to read the next lines.

Deer Hunting Poem on Milwaukee’s NPR 89.7 WUWM

I stopped by the 89.7 WUWM Lake Effect Studios last week to record a poem about sitting in the woods and feeling certain that everything you hear is a deer – until it isn’t. Give a listen to my deer little ditty Orange Blaze of Glory. Don’t worry, it’s not graphic, in case you’re one who doesn’t eat meat.

IMG_2873
Here is the view from my tree stand on the first snow of the season.

 

Thinking About Photographs and Creative Projects

I spent yesterday morning taking pictures of explorer Eric Larsen at Riveredge Nature Center. Due to climate change, he’ll likely be the last person to ski to the North Pole. That’s a strange feeling, sharing company with someone who will be the last to do something – and he’s not old. Right now, Eric is currently traversing Wisconsin via foot, bike, and kayak, while raising funds for Riveredge summer camps, a venture called WisconsATHON.

I took the above picture as Eric was getting his equipment together to begin paddling the Milwaukee River. In the morning I took photos of Eric on his bike, with him art directing where I should be located, which angle, what to focus on, the differences between placement due to light and shadow, et cetera. This was a really interesting experience, as he spends a lot of time setting up his own shots when he’s out solo exploring. I appreciated hearing the reasons behind his choices.

I’m not a photographer, but I would say I dabble, mainly to provide visual support for my words. As a person who sees stories and ideas and tries to render them, one really separates genres to their own peril. We have so many storytelling options available: words, pictures, audio, video, that they can all work in concert if done well. That’s part of the reason I consider myself a multimedia journalist, although I often tell people I’m a writer for sake of simplicity.

I mentioned to Eric my disappointment that a publication decided to pass on some of my researched fact-based poems. These pieces are a combination of journalism and poetry – not the familiar confessionalist works consumed by a writer’s feelings. The response was the usual “Oh it’s poetry and we don’t publish poetry – unless you’re a poet laureate.”

I’m not surprised, getting anyone to read poetry is never-ending missionary work – so many people have a lifelong aversion due to the reading they were assigned in high school. Also, in creating work that straddles genres, many people will not immediately join you for the ride. Humans seem to like placing things into neat compartments, classifications. Until something becomes its own genre, its own compartment, many people don’t know what to do with something.

“The only thing better than a ‘no’ is a ‘yes,” said Eric. “With a ‘no’ at least you can move on to the next thing.”

A great point, a “no” means the waiting is done. On to the next.

Tiny Poem Thinking About Isadora Duncan

Yesterday I nearly had my own Isadora Duncan moment while riding over the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee. Two wheels not four.  My immediate thoughts following became this brief poem. If it makes you curious, I’ll leave you to do your own research about Isadora Duncan.

Community Gardens: A Poem About Plants in Nature

I was at work the other day, asking about planting strategies with a very experienced land management specialist. He mentioned something, almost as an afterthought, about how forbs need root competition to flourish long-term. Otherwise they grow too large and collapse on themselves. I found this interesting and ended up writing a poem about it. We published it on our Blog at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. It’s pretty fantastic that I’ve got a job where I’m invited to write poetry about nature.

Go here to read Community Gardens, a poem about how plants depend on one another.