To speak of Woe that is in Marriage by Robert Lowell – and a question


“It is the future generation that presses into being by means of
these exuberant feelings and supersensible soap bubbles of ours.”


The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open.
Our magnolia blossoms.  Life begins to happen.
My hopped up husband drops his home disputes,
and hits the streets to cruise for prostitutes,
free-lancing out along the razor’s edge.
This screwball might kill his wife, then take the pledge.
Oh the monotonous meanness of his lust. . .
It’s the injustice . . . he is so unjust—
whiskey-blind, swaggering home at five.
My only thought is how to keep alive.
What makes him tick?  Each night now I tie
ten dollars and his car key to my thigh. . . .
Gored by the climacteric of his want,
he stalls above me like an elephant.

I was thinking about reviewing famous poems like let's say 20 of them with feedback as to which poems from you the reader. Whaddya say anyone down ?rfobe

April is Poetry Month || Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden & Faterhood

I have a very unique relationship with my pops, I think we are both insane and should live on islands by ourselves. But this poem brought me back to some fond memories.


Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Robert Hayden was an American poet, essayist, educator. He was appointed Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1976. (First African-American) 


Talking Craft || The Triggering Subject in Poems and other Genres

My editor gave me some books to read to expand my views. He recommended I look at Richard Hugo’s  The Triggering Town. I found the advise given useful not just for poetry. I thought to list a few things from his essay in the book: Writing Off The Subject that I selected for my study and perusal.


Causes and The Triggering Subject


A poem can be said to have two subjects, the initiating or triggering subject, which starts the poem or “causes” the poem to be written, and the real or generated subject, which the poem comes to say or mean, and which is generated or discovered in the poem during the writing. That’s not quite right because it suggests that the poet recognizes the real subject. The poet may not be aware of what the real subject is but only have some instinctive feeling that the poem is done.

Young poets find it difficult to free themselves from the initiating subject. The poet puts down the title: “Autumn Rain.” He finds two or three good lines about Autumn Rain. Then things start to break down. He cannot find anything more to say about Autumn Rain so he starts making up things, he strains, he goes abstract, he starts telling us the meaning  of what he has already said. The mistake he is making, of course, is that he feels obligated to go on talking about Autumn Rain, because that, he feels, is the subject. Well, it isn’t the subject. You don’t know what the subject is, and the moment you run out of things to say about Autumn Rain start talking about something else. In fact, it’s a good idea to talk about something else before you run out of things to say about Autumn Rain.

My Own Thoughts

The image I created for the blog on the top of the side bar summarizes my thinking:  “Everything is a path leading to something other than itself.” I think that that works for many aspects of life not just poetry. So many times in life the path we commit to leads us places we didn’t conceive at the onset. When it comes to writing whether a novel, short story, poem, prose poem, there are things to consider:

  1. How do we represent the journey ? – a sequence of events, feelings , images, voices, actions or some admixture of the aforementioned ?
  2. What techniques do we employ in writing to add dimensionality to what we are writing

There are many more questions to be asked but for me in the back of my mind when I write my stuff, I like to jump off from the triggering subject and dance all around things. Usually it’s not till after a few edits, that I see the real subject of the poem or the writing. There is still much for me to learn in how to jump from the triggering subject.  Here is an example of a poem from Seamus Heaney that jumps well (taken from his poem “Lightenings”)

Shifting brilliancies. Then winter light 
In a doorway, and on the stone doorstep 
A beggar shivering in silhouette. 

So the particular judgement might be set: 
Bare wallstead and a cold hearth rained into- 
Bright puddle where the soul-free cloud-life roams. 

And after the commanded journey, what? 
Nothing magnificent, nothing unknown. 
A gazing out from far away, alone. 

And it is not particular at all, 
Just old truth dawning: there is no next-time-round. 
Unroofed scope. Knowledge-freshening wind. 

I find its interesting how each line presents us with a new  image also. Sometimes what is interesting to do in a poem whether one being read or written is to list sequentially the nouns in the poem. In this case we would have: brilliances, light, doorway, doorstep beggar silhouette, judgement wallstead, heart puddle, cloud life. As we continue throughout he poem the scope widens and widens. The distance from the beginning image of shifting brilliances has become vast,


That’s it


Gertrude Stein's Rejection letter

Talking Craft || The Greatest Advice I Ever Got about Writing


A friend of mine completed a prestigious and expensive MFA program here in the NYC a few years ago. I had the opportunity to sit with her a few months ago and she gave me the greatest advice I have ever received so far.

I asked her did she feel the MFA was beneficial to her career as a writer. After an incredibly long pause, she told me her best learning experience was when she hired an editor. Every 2 weeks they met and he tore what she wrote to pieces. He showed her what worked, what didn’t and why etc. She told me it became like an apprenticeship after some time. She liked the MFA but now paying back the student loans with a kid and a bullshit job, she wonders about how practical the MFA was for her.


So What I did


I spent a while sending in poems to various magazines, and getting rejected. At some point the rejection letters got more and more positive. I got some great feedback and it was then that I decided to seek the help of a professional. It was my hope he/she could open my eyes to what I wasn’t seeing. If I invested so much of my time already, investing some money wouldn’t hurt. I believe what it comes down to is how much do you want something.

Gertrude Stein's Rejection letter

Gertrude Stein’s Rejection letter

For me I had started writing off and on around 16. Grounding myself in the technical aspects of poetry was of the utmost importance. I looked at poetry like Michael Jordan looked at basketball when he was a young man. It was something he wanted to do at the highest level. So he grounded himself in the game. He studied tapes, ran and reran drills, worked out etc. I feel about understanding meter, assonance, alliteration etc. Understanding how to use them is the crux of this craft of verse. I read and studied a lot of poets. I analyzed their style, tried to discern how they were able to achieve some of things that made me like their work. So that how it went for about a good few years.


Working with a Mentor/Professional in the Field


This experience has been great for me. There was so much I was able to learn and pick up on. It would have taken me a few years of fumbling in the dark to be able to see with that level of subtlety. I feel that working with someone like this is an accelerant for one’s skills. When I think back on it I see why so many artists worked/drank/chilled together. I have tried to be part of writing groups in the past, but it didn’t work for me. I’m hoping maybe the end of this year to finally have something ready to publish.

I feel more than anything the rejection letters help really force me to pay closer and closer attention to the subtleties. Anyways, I rarely share my wrings on the blog, especially the better stuff. Hopefully in the near future I’ll be able to.





Talking Craft with MrMary || How To (& How Not To) Write Poetry by WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA

I have always believe that like with anything, one should honor those who have come before us. Borges says what I am trying to say more succinctly of course:

The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.

So before I endeavored to write my own poetry I sat with my precursors: Borges, Hugo, Mallarme, Baudelaire, Valery, Neruda, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Shakespeare, Villon, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Jimenez, de Vigny, de Musset etc.


I sat with them and read through their works. Of course I learned a lot from novelists, short story writers and essayists etc, but as we are speaking of poetry I won’t get into all that. I recently as luck would have it, ran into Wislawa Szymborska, the Nobel Prize winning poet and she had a lot to say on poetry so I thought I would pick the most salient things (to me) and put them here . Hope You enjoy it.