Poets, how are you faring? We are on day 26 of writing a poem per day for national poetry month. So far, I’m 26 for 26, some of which I’m happy with, and some of which need tweaking. Moo of Writing has been working for me. When I relax and don’t try hard, the words flow. Some days I feel like this nesting mother goose waiting for eggs to hatch. How about you?
Will you join me in a challenge? In my handbook, Moo of Writing, I advocate a belief in abundance. We can all be like Linus in the pumpkin patch, believing with all our heart that a great pumpkin bursting with the seeds of prolific writing will descend upon us, indeed lives within us every day! I am now throwing down a challenge to myself—and I invite you to join me—to enter a contest. We will pick a theme and write one poem a day every day for the month of April for a total of 30 poems in honor of National Poetry Month. The contest is sponsored by localgemspoetrypress.com, and they want $25 from you by March 25 to enter. If you choose not to enter the contest, but want to participate, send me your poems through this website by May 1, and we’ll choose some to publish here. Usually, I spend weeks if not months on a poem, keeping several in the hopper at once, returning to them to reconsider, putting them through critiquing workshops, mulling them over, sleeping on them. In April, I will allow myself no such luxury of time. Winner of the contest receives $300 and Local Gems Press publishes the winner’s chapbook. I’m excited about the challenge. Time to see how well Moo of Writing really works! Moo/Mu!
Taking my work out into the world delights and scares me. You’d think I were 7 instead of 71! (Or maybe a 7-year-old would be braver). I’m happy to return to my homeland, DeWitt, Iowa, for an event at Crossroads Inspired Living & Garden Cafe on Nov. 22—the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We’ve named the event “Poetry of Gratitude.” I’ll read from Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir which is a tribute to my parents, Marian & Louie Bliesmer, and a tribute to the land—Iowa, which helped feed the world when I was growing up in the 1950s & still does. Black Dirt Days celebrates my parent’s forbidden romance, sleigh rides, wiener roasts, feeding cattle, even hauling manure! Most of all it’s about faith no matter what challenges we faced—tornadoes, ill health, the uncertainty of weather for the farmer. I’m looking forward to seeing cousins and old friends. And I’m grateful to Linda Snyder, owner of Crossroads, for welcoming me to her shop & cafe. Here’s what’s on the menu for the luncheon– Harvest Salad consisting of Fresh Spinach, Toasted Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries, Crisp Apples, Roasted Butternut Squash sprinkled w/ Goat Cheese & drizzled w/ Honey Maple Vinaigrette. Turkey Pot Pie with tender pieces of Turkey Breast, Peas, Carrots, Corn & Potatoes in a Creamy Sauce. Topped w/ a Flaky Pie Crust. Caramel-Cranberry Pumpkin Tart. Coffee or Tea. The luncheon (sounds yummy, doesn’t it?) will follow the reading, discussion, and book signing. Click here to read “I Give Thanks,” the key poem for the event. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Lilian Steichen Sandburg was famous in her own right as a breeder of goats. These goats are enjoying a spot of shade under the structure that holds hay in their barnyard at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site at Flat Rock, NC. The site offers visitors not only shade under gorgeous old hemlocks it offers a spot of peace. Lilian, known to Carl as Paula, believed goat milk helped settle her long-time digestive problems. She began breeding goats to improve blood lines and milk production in 1935 when the couple lived in Berrien County Michigan. They were not to move to Flat Rock until 1945 when she was 62 and he was 67 years of age. A social activist, he was a journalist, a poet (Pulitzer winner), a hobo, a world traveler, a biographer (Pulitzer for a history of Lincoln), songwriter, writer of children’s books, and troubadour. Whether or not you love poetry, this home that Lilian and daughter Margaret helped the National Park Service preserve to truly carry the spirit of the “Poet of the People,” is worth a visit. Say hi to the goats for me.
Do you remember your first kiss? Mine happened (first time for both of us) in the back seat of a Dodge on an Iowa gravel road while two of his buddies egged him on from the front seat. It was what passed for a wild night in the 1950s. They were driving way too fast, spitting gravel, taking hills up the center of the road, on our way home from a dance class in town. Somebody had taken pity on us country bumpkins or just couldn’t stand to watch us bumbling around in the gym at sock hops and arranged a few classes for us high school freshmen in the basement of a ranch house in Clinton. Poets will write about anything, so when I was writing Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir, this prose poem popped out. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. How about it? Do you remember your first kiss?