April is full of many traditions. Five years ago when I began to write poems for poetry month I stuck with the theme of domestic tasks. I still include many poems on different domestic tasks. There will always be an Easter Poem every year and there will always be Elais's Birthday Haiku's since his birthday is in mid April. Another tradition I have continued during poetry month is the inclusion of a Letter to an artist. In 2015 I wrote a letter to Patricia Geodicke. A very personal letter. Patricia Geodicke was born in Boston in 1931 and grew up in Hanover. While growing up she was an accomplished downhill skier and was introduced to poetry when she studied with Robert Frost at Middlebury College in 1953. She then moved on to study under W.H. Auden at the Young Men's Hebrew Association of New York City in 1955. She taught poetry at the University of Montana Missoula until her retirement in 2003. She died of Pneumonia brought on by lung cancer shortly after her retirement. She has written eleven books of poetry including "As the Earth Begins to End: New Poems" published in 2000 and "Between Oceans" published in the 1990's. She is well anthologized and her poems are found throughout many collections. Thank you Patricia for your passion and your poetry, you will be missed.
Friends in Art
In 2014 I wrote a an Ottava Rima on the letters between the poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Elizabeth Bishop met Robert Lowell in the late 1940s and they remained friends until his death in 1977. Elizabeth died two years after Lowell. They wrote an incredibly large amount of letters to one another throughout their friendship. Each letter discusses their writing of poetry and poetry in general. Their relationship was held together through these letters since they were separated by geography throughout their lives. Elizabeth spent two decades in Brazil with her lover Lota de Macedo Soares. I feel that their letters are a testament to the power of letter writing and how this art is being lost. In 2008 a collection of their letters was published as "Words in Air" edited by Thomas Trevisano and Saskia Hamilton and published by Ferrar-Straus and Giroux. In 2012 the playwright Sarah Ruhl presented her play "Dear Elizabeth" on stage. Her play is a dramatization of the letters between the two poets.
W.H. Auden wrote the ottava rima "Letters to Lord Byron" which inspired me to write my first ottava rima as a letter to an artist. Since this time I have written my letters in ottawa rima. In 2013 I wrote a fictionalized account of the letters between Muriel Ruykeiser and Einstein. Here is the introduction to that poem... "I am writing this little introduction because I felt this piece needed one. I am addicted to Podcasts and listen to Poetry Podcasts often and was introduced to the friendship of Muriel Ruykeiser and Einstein. Well, maybe not an actual friendship but they did exchange letters. I have not read the letters and I tried to piece together what they may have said to each other. I then realized that they probably did not share their inner most feelings they probably slowly worked their way into a more formal discussion of their lives. I was introduced to Muriel Ruykeiser in "No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth-century American Women Poets" edited by Florence Howe. I was moved by Muriel Ruykeiser's essay "The Poem as Mask" located in the Anthology. I was introduced to Einstein, well, studying science." I tried my hand at another ottava rima and added another "Letter" poem to the collection. I hope you enjoy the poetry.
Painting by Josef Albers
Letter to Josef Albers on his "Interaction of Colors"
A few years back I dipped my brush in paints and studied works of classic modern tones, so hello Josef Albers, stamps with saints adorn this letter, Yale or Bauhuas bound, to think that maybe words on works create within my world a colorful soft sound of notes your students standing still like Klee would hear in bristled brush like Kandinsky.
I write this letter just to let you know your "Interactions of Colors" has broad intention, painting canvas, poems tone, with every color brushed and written word reminds us how much thought behind each show, a talent learned through practice, well rehearsed, that when an artist steps far back from work, "Oh hell, that is how its done. There's the hook."
The first chapter is color recognition a realization that helps me write with confidence, you told me that each tone, with everyone's individual sight, the color of our words is purely based on our own colored lives experienced.
You wrote this book as manual on verse and compared color texture with some pots of water, three of them of different hues, this based upon their temperature, some hot, some cold, some warm, some luke, each color wears with pride, a temperature that's touched and felt, with haptic sense we feel each colors temp and hold in hands the heat once found in lamps.
Our eyes do not distinguish high from low in light intensity, so bright and dull beyond the scale our eyes will never know, so keep the colors mediocre thrill, to drag the eye into the paintings flow, to swallow words that make a subtle pill.
Create gradation with the color grey and bring our eyes into this color play. The human retina will gain a ghost an after image from the rods and cones, the eye will be each colored visions host, these illusions well seen with certain tones and certain colors bring it out the most, these being three primary mixed hues of yellow, blue, and hot to trot bright red to taste the food long after ones been fed.
Around the early nineteen hundreds points of color made a stand with German mind Wilhem von Bezold who did show Seurat to use his brush each point of color found a home next to another, each word a point, each point a hue, an effect called Bezold. His painting named "Sunday in the Park" where every colored point did reach its mark.
Your book begins to shape my words again, you take me to how color truly shapes a harmony of multiple versed tones, a wave of harmonics, to paint, reshape each song, each color never acts alone to leave the viewers eyes and mouth agape. A symphony with carefully planned chords, with light a little hint, taste of discord.
Through color instruments I hope to float how music may have notes to stack upon each bar, and painting colors brushed with thought create a lasting memory of song, with words each pen has carefully sought out, a secret into processes of time. I'm glad I opened up your book with ever eager mind, to take a look.
Painting by Josef Albers
Letters Between Bishop and Lowell
These letters collected throughout your lives give proof that love between two can exist based purely on passion for words, derives from poetry, whose job it is to persist, a definition of friendship that thrives and for a moment their problems desist to be filled in by the repetition of Sestina that will always remain.
He stayed the skunk on his old streets in Maine, she the armadillo out in Texas, each chapter in this book size collection, I feel, a drama they show to vex us, to bring the poetry over the pain, their strengthened poetic muscle flexes, they knew they would be embedded in time by the extraordinary strength of their rhyme.
A deep long look within desire to see how much I wish to talk about my art, our lengthy addresses set them all free to be sorted in a public mail cart, some words of friendship written, you and me, too bad that this has become a lost art, I hope with each word and every creation and dream beyond this domestication.
Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell
Letter to Patricia Geodicke
The year was nineteen ninety one and I had left the comfort family offered me to move to Montana to learn to sigh each breath a word to write, to read, and see the world, each rotten road, through my own eye, but I was young and found my sense did flee with notebook underneath my arm, my mind a tragic taste of life, a bitter rind.
The nostalgic moment of my comfort brings back this time of my forgotten youth, my mind was full of words I had to sort, these paths I walked to try and find some truth these foreign ghosts of hate would not deport. In class I spoke so ignorant in tooth, I thought I knew Thomas and Eliot, in mind these concepts had no time to set.
You may not remember this youth in class the one who smelled of dumpster behind bars, whose life was leaning towards the very crass in the alleys or broken into cars, a drop of effort in my will to pass, sit in class in my own feathers and tars, a dull reflection of the homeless me through the cold I could not be made to see.
Playing as the emperor of vandals I made it to your class always on time more like a viscount in Teva sandals than a criminal guilty from his crime. Being at your home seemed so pivotal, even after I drank all your free wine and read my poem about pinkened puke, your house, I spoke so ignorant in tooth.
Letters Between Muriel Ruykeiser and Einstein
My dear Einstein how have you been. I've been thinking about the science here, trying to find the unity again, searching through the numbers without fear. The way you write with such grace makes me grin. Each line has a place, oh, so near. Sometimes too Romantic, too Homeric pulling humanity from the Barbaric.
Oh, Muriel, I cherish every word, what an honor to share both our pens. A biography would not be absurd, to have been seen through a true poets lens, a woman of the issues who should be heard. Under your description, with no offense, please write again my dear Muriel. Between us both we should have the material.
You may be the only one who knows truth: That all knowledge is the universal united. We are nothing but ancient sleuths until the first black hole has been sighted and we have lost that sweet bloom of youth. We will search until all has been searched and in your search for the ideal you found the relative in the real.
Muriel I heard you have taken a stand you hold a card for mistreated man in a way that is so poetic and grand you can count me in as a true fan, such depth, such meaning, so many strands putting your foot down for all women, you are a poet as a poet should be. Good night, your friend Einstein, yours sincerely.
Letters to Gertrude Stein On Her Book "How to Write"
When I doubt my writing style I read you my sweet, my sweet Gertrude, to digest lines, my simple word choices are classic too, to never find a mold to fit my rhymes or beauty of rhythm to shine on through. Oh Gertrude, you understood each word, the signs, you felt the need to write on "How to Write" to softly bring back my creative sight.
You helped me save my sentences from shame you showed me what a paragraph can do and while you were in Paris with your fame your friendship with the modern poets grew and with a whip your composition tame a whip I felt when I reduced my rue you taught me with this book, creation, a process that can fill me with elation.
To carry books like this when travelling in worlds of words from pens your friends hold tight to know the rules then break them freeing a Picasso over for wine, insight into creation, these new songs to sing. Thank you, creation is truly a flight you showed me how to make a lasting fling to love and write for love and writings sake the joy that grammar and mind make.