Poetry In Motion Captures Daily Joy

 

Tinsel Aurora
Aurora loves Christmas tree decoration time!

 

I love Mary Oliver’s poetry and have been enjoying sharing the poems from Dog Songs, published by Penguin in 2013 a gift from the USA from my daughter, Anne.

Fortunately, most of the students in my classes are pet lovers and on the last count, the dog lovers outnumbered cat lovers.

Regardless of preference, the keen observations of the talents and quirks of dogs and owners in Mary’s poems and prose, the detailing and expressions of love, the bonds created, and how dogs capture your heart can be appreciated by everyone.

 

Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?

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In a lovely short short story, Ropes, about Sammy, an escape artist known for chewing through ropes and a dog Mary ‘inherited,’ there are a few tales about his wandering and the consequences. The reflection in the punch line a beauty: –

This is Sammy’s story. But I also think there are one or two poems in it somewhere. Maybe it’s what life was like in this dear town years ago, and how a lot of us miss it.

Or maybe it’s about the wonderful things that may happen if you break the ropes that are holding you.

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spring bush purple.jpgEach day is a precious gift and like most writers, I carry a notebook to jot down observations, ideas and feelings. 

I’m lucky to have a job I love teaching in community houses and to be passionate about writing.  However, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always sing “Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to work I go” as cheerfully as the seven dwarfs in Disney’s Snow White!

But I do try to be a glass half full person…

Here’s one of last week’s jottings, influenced of course from absorbing the lessons from The Gathering of Kindness

Feeling Joy – The Small Stuff Matters
Mairi Neil

Friday morning, on the way to work
I kept a lookout for some joy, and
it wasn’t long before I witnessed –
the love between a father and his boy.
Two peas in a pod’ they dressed alike –
matching smiles, strolling side by side.
The loving bond between the two
seemed as strong as a rhino’s hide.

The child’s face lit up at a noisy digger
munching and crunching on concrete,
and the audience of fluro-vested men
standing mesmerised by this feat.
But the toddler refused to be side-tracked
‘It’s the trains he’s after,’ said Dad.
They followed me to Mordi Station
where trundling trains made him glad.

Aboard the train approaching Parkdale,
a clump of ‘red hot pokers’ delight,
planted to greet weary commuters,
the orange sentinels glow in sun’s light.
The next stop was Cheltenham Station
how uplifting and joyous to see
beautiful art brighten graffiti-free wall –
possum, parrot, and magpie trilogy.

Highett Railway Station the next stop
along a track lined with grey-green trees
until a bottlebrush blooms blood red
and Noisy Minors serenade to please.
The tunnel into Moorabbin is next
a dullness failing to darken the day,
momentary shadows before sunshine
a courteous student a smiling ray.

Not long to reach Patterson Station
passing homes simple and grandiose
traditional backyards disappearing for
townhouses that house the most.
And right at the Station’s doorstep
from a third floor balcony, quite unaware
a sleepy man plumps blue pillows
we watch him inhale morning air.

Too soon, I’m at Bentleigh Station
and striding along busy Centre Road.
There are shoppers, school kids, workers
negotiating others in relaxation mode.
Old men gathering outside cafes to chat
over Turkish coffee and sweet cakes
weekly reminiscing, current politics too –
get-togethers a community makes.

Benn’s Bookshop appears on the horizon
and I turn into Godfrey Street
delicious aromas of chicken and coffee
at close quarters my regular greet.
An octogenarian shuffles her walker
a shopping bag ready for weekly refill,
guarding fiercely her independence
a faithful fox terrier follows at heel.

Turning into the Community House
prepared for the delightful writing class
spring flowers a brilliant scented rainbow
amidst freshly-trimmed green grass.
A young mum pushes an empty stroller
her daughter dancing fantasy behind
in a lurid pink tutu and glittering tiara
a more joyful princess you’ll never find!

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Please share any daily moments of joy or note them down to savour for later.

Who has Earned a Clerihew – You?

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http://www.fridaymash.com/regions/australian-political-satire

Yesterday, instead of writing this blog I became absorbed watching the Australian Prime Ministership change – political junkie that I am!  Although I offer no apology because the politicians who are in power affect us all.

What writer doesn’t like drama even if this one was inevitable – Abbott and Turnbull have battled before. The Australian public knew spite, ego and ambition would all lead to the same inevitable result! As witty and jaded commentators observe “same shit just different shovel’.

However, the way the media hyperventilated and protracted the drama built the tension and kept us hooked, even if clichés and hyperbole abounded. No doubt it will all be replayed ad nauseam so budding journalists can deconstruct and choose the best coverage and pick out the gems – and there are always gems amongst the dross.

Wordsmiths can be inspired and write clerihews to immortalise the leading protagonists and antagonists and their supporters. I discovered this form of terse verse several years ago when I had poetry published in Yellow Moon magazine.

A clerihew is ‘a humorous pseudo-biographical quatrain, rhymed as two couplets, with lines of uneven length more or less in the rhythm of prose. The name of the subject who is well-known is usually at the end of the first line (sometimes the second line).

The humour of the clerihew is whimsical and absurd rather than satiric or abusive, but they target famous individuals or ones in the public eye. Politicians, as well as celebrities, are obviously fair game. You don’t have to limit your clerihews to real people. Write about characters from books, musicians, movie stars, comic and cartoon creations.

Clerihews are short, easy to write and can be about any person or character, real or not – even about animals. Remember to put the subject’s name at the end of the first line and rhyme it at the end of the second line. Then write two more rhyming lines to make it funny, absurd and memorable!

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Edmund Clerihew Bentley invented the form in school, the rhyme scheme AABB, often forced and irregular. A couple of his best-known being:

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul’s.

Sir Humphrey Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

 (This one about his chemistry teacher>)

According to a letter in the Spectator in the 1960s, Bentley said that a true clerihew has to have the name “at the end of the first line”. The whole point being the skill in rhyming awkward names.

I tried to write a couple of poems about the squabbling pair last night but found it difficult to be whimsical. (It was a long night too and I’m not sure the couple of ciders I drank helped or hindered creativity.)

Unfortunately, when I think of national politics and how it is referred to as “the Canberra Games” whimsy is not the first word that springs to mind!

Our PM likes to be called Tony
This casualness quite phoney
His equality claims
Produced knights and dames!

Malcolm Turnbull no fool
Knows women drool
Prime Ministerial ambition ditched
But now mission accomplished

PM Tony Abbott
Made lying a habit
Loved riding his bike
His party’s now said, ‘take a hike’

Prime Minister Abbott
Made Captain Picks a habit
Loved photo opps wearing a bomber jacket
Tony’s found ‘shit happens’ now he’s sacket

Egotistical Malcolm Turnbull
Knows ‘the old school tie’ rule
Promising power to Julie Bishop
He found her an easy pick up

Poor Tony Abbott
Now stewed like a rabbit
Friendship with Bronwyn Bishop
A helicopter flight a grounding mishap

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
Always looks quite a dish up
Overseas trips her desire
Setting ambassadors’ hearts on fire

Let’s hope Bishops and Abbotts
Don’t breed like rabbits
Malcolm’s skin is steel wool
And his promises not bull….

Perhaps I’ll stick to Hollywood characters after all Australian politics often seem a B-grade movie. This was an oldie:

Hollywood is Mel Gibson’s home
Where many Aussies roam
Mad Max and Braveheart Mel’s winning streak
Pity his true character is so bleak

The Oxford Complete Wordfinder describes a clerihew as a short comic or nonsensical verse, usually in two rhyming couplets with lines of unequal length and referring to a famous person…

I’ll just keep trying and look at it as another form of poetry that allows me to indulge what I love most – playing with words. Like Limericks and Haiku inspiration is all around and with a pen and paper it certainly fills in time spent travelling on public transport or sitting in waiting rooms.

There is 24hour media coverage all over the globe and we live in a time of celebrity culture – perhaps the clerihew will make a comeback in popularity!

Limericks, Laughter and Lessons – Form Poetry is Fun!

Poetry is what makes me laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or that or nothing.

Dylan Thomas

Poetry can, but does not always, involve rhyme, rhythm and metre. Poets use words to share experiences, tell a story or express feelings or ideas. Poems are verses that may be spoken or sung. They have many different purposes:  to amuse, to entertain, to reflect, to inform, to educate or to pass on cultural heritage.

Limericks are form poetry with a purpose to amuse. They are five-line poems using rhyme and rhythm to enhance their content.  Usually humorous, they have a twist or surprise in the last line. They are brief and lend themselves to comic effects. Limericks consist of three long and two short lines rhyming pattern: aabba. Rhyme and rhythm are used to enhance the content.

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Lines one, two and five rhyme with each other and normally contain a three beat metre.
 Lines three and four rhyme with each other and contain a two beat meter. Lines three and four are usually shorter than the other lines. This predictable rhyme and syllable pattern contribute to the rhythm and flow of the poetry. I love introducing limericks to my writing classes. -It is a good way to introduce the value of rhyming dictionaries (now available free online). And encourage planning – think of what words you will use to rhyme, then fill in the lines of the poem! Especially if you are going to use people’s names or topical words to create an aa-bb-a rhyming pattern.  (John, Shawn, fawn; Bob, Rob, sob; Ron, Dawn, lawn; Carol, barrel; Cheryl, Beryl feral; Tammy, Sammy, whammy…)

Here are a few of mine –

In Bentleigh a writing class meet
On Tuesdays each other they greet
memories mined
words they find
To produce stories that are such a treat

There once was a writer of tales
who amassed enormous sales
her secret she said
was take to your bed
Explicit stories about sex never fails

Caroline’s a nurse working night shift
who must balance her time with thrift
when patients sleep
a journal she keeps
For writing flash fiction plot twists.

Nurse Caroline’s shifts are at night
Staying awake is a frequent fight
she can’t pop pills
as solutions to ills
So drinks brandy and gets really tight

In Victoria, our Premier Napthine
suddenly wants to be seen as green.
He’s done a deal, he said
to stop possums being dead
but conservationists are not so keen.

There was a Prime Minister called Abbott
whose lying became quite a habit
his policies were trite
delivered in sound bites
broken promises as common as rabbits

Have you heard of global warming?
No longer will bees be swarming
the frogs have croaked
the deserts are soaked
And polar ice caps have stopped forming.

The stereotyped subjects of limericks are usually intended to be humorous or regarded as timely warnings. The origins of the Limerick shrouded in mystery, but researchers suggest it goes back before Christ to the Greek comic poets.  A description of a chariot accident translated as:

An amateur driving too fast,
from his car to the roadway was cast,
and a friend kindly said,
as he banged his head,
‘Mr Cobbler stick to your last.’

The word officially entered the English language via the Oxford Dictionary, in 1898, defined as ‘indecent nonsense verse’. Although, it had been around for centuries and in many other languages – including old Irish. There is still a debate whether ‘limerick’ did come from Limerick!

The light verse has ‘light’ subject matter, parodies other poems, or makes serious topics comical. It doesn’t have to make sense or have a point beyond making a sound and having rhythm. Just like the nursery rhymes or children’s verse you read or learned in childhood – many of which are seriously politically incorrect once they reach the playground and are adapted. Many limericks attack the authority of the church, lampoon politicians and are great outlets for protest. A limerick embraces every topic, territory and temperament. It can be indecent like an off-colour joke, encompassing all the follies, failures, fortunes, fallacies and foibles of humanity.

However, the Limerick has a fixed form and is often bawdy, especially in the hands of a master comic poet like Edward Lear. Part of the charm of the Limerick is the surprise, the sudden swoop and unexpected twist of the last line, but Lear often ignored the whiplash ending to create a variation of the first line. His AABBA rhyme scheme often has the last word in the first and final lines being the same. The metrical scheme is easy to pick up with practice by reading limericks aloud and writing them. First and second and last lines normally 8-9 syllables, third and fourth has 6, but like any poem – it is up to the poet if they want to adopt or adapt as they create!

Above all have fun – I certainly do!

In Mordi a group of writers meet
On Mondays, each other they greet
Memories mined
Words they find
Producing stories that are a treat.

Emily travels to class with Michael
Riding tandem on her new bicycle
Wanting to be posh
She tried a car wash
Emily’s bicycle is now a tricycle

There is a writer called Jane
Who went to Singapore by plane
She jumped on the wing
Like a canary did sing
Flight attendants declared her insane

Amelia nursed new babes for years
Helping mothers conquer their fears
Imperfect mummies
Spitting dummies
And so often collapsing in tears

Each Monday Tori arrives by cab
Her Sikh driver a man never drab
A smiling fellow
In turban yellow
And many other colours so fab

A woman called Jan liked to write
and often woke up in the night
she liked to croon
by the silvery moon
Her stories inspired by dawn light

Doreen’s a top student of writing
and her stories she adores reciting
her computer has Dragon
‘cos her eyesight’s flaggin’
it talks back if the plot’s not exciting