Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gordon Kuhn - Writing Poetry

In celebration of World Poetry Day, I convinced Gordon Kuhn, author of The Widow's Cliff and Other Poems, to share his experiences as a poet. Please take a look, and maybe you'll be inspired to write a poem or two of your own. 

Gordon Kuhn - Poet

What is a poet? Why be a poet?

I recall years back my father saying to me:

He’s a poet.
But he didn’t know it.
However, his feet did.
They were Longfellows.

Well, cute, but not the point I’m looking to make. I am a poet because I think in that fashion. I like to play with words. I love the sound of words. To me, music fills the air when I write poetry. Now, please understand that I don’t like ALL poetry. I like Bishop and Plath, along with Sexton and a few others. They bring out the poet in me if I am reading their poetry. I cannot sit and read Sylvia Plath without writing myself. It's impossible, I have to write.

So, what do I write about? I write about everything. Whatever comes to mind. However, I cannot force it. I cannot say I'm going to write a poem about nurses and sit down and write one. It does not work that way. But on the other side of the fence, I can be walking down the street and suddenly a poem will form. Then the love of sound and meter take over. The words tumble through my brain, loving each other, wrestling with each other, and they make poetry.

The other issue that comes to mind is the reader. Not everyone in the world likes poetry. Most people don’t. That being true, the poet has a reduced population of potential readers. Among that crowd are people who read poetry but walk around saying they don't understand poetry. That can be troublesome if you're sensitive to their issues. The poet has to realize that they are simply an instrument and what they write will have different meanings to different readers. I've also learned that my poetry and I are separate. I've learned I must make it clear to my readers that what they read may not be the reality of my life. I write about drunkenness, however I'm not drunk. I write about what I feel, what comes to my mind, and what to me sounds beautiful.

I wrote a poem this morning and I'm including it here.

March 19, 2012
Copyright 2012 Gordon Kuhn
Poet in the Rain Productions

What capsule is this which surrounds me now?
What obscurity blurs the present sadly seen?
That life is as though a shadow drawn,
Beyond some clouded window pane,
As viewed down a distant rain-swept lane,
Where all the wishes of a lifetime now lay as pitied refuse
Piled at my feet for not following the path given and shown.
I failed to heed the signs as daily errant labor lay
Sublime and seduced my mind to wander and pray not stay
In proper nature, as others were wise to do.
And now the history in ending August chill
While fall comes as blame is cast before me there.
Dying leaves as shadows fall upon the lawn of life.
For failure to see or to understand the gift past given
And as a knife plunged deep within my heart
Sorrows tumble as blood droplets fall by the score for failure to ignore
The wisps of lightly scented false wishes that led astray
That pulled me from life’s purposeful and plain desire
T’was sinister delusions most grandeur that misled me to this day
And yet, and yet, I would surely wish it no other way.
I’m a simple poet. I write. It is my present to thee.

 Gordon Kuhn, Poet in the Rain.

Don't forget to check out Gordon's blog at  http://gordonwrites.com/ . 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Funky February (in March)

February might be the shortest month of the year, but with the added day this year, it certainly felt like the longest. Yes – I know it’s now mid-March, but I’m only crawling out my February Funk now. Normally, I revel in the beauty of winter. I love fluffy snowflakes, ice crystals forming on windows and icicles hanging from rooftops (even though I know they are horribly dangerous). I love curling up with a cup of hot chocolate, a warm blanket and a good book while the dark cold of winter surrounds me. February is usually harsh and cold, but this year it was mild and mucky – and so were my emotions.

My father-in-law passed away, leaving a house full of memories and secrets needing to be sorted. Each day we would arrive at his house to sort through his possessions, thinking we only needed a few hours to box things up in preparation for selling the house. Instead, we got lost in old photographs, correspondence and all the bits and pieces that made up the life of a very special man.

Antique cameras, costume jewellery, scouting paraphernalia, report cards, birth certificates, death certificates, bills, shopping lists, books, plants – the list of treasures is endless.  How do you decide what to keep, what to donate and what to sell? How do you decide which parts of a person’s life hold the most value?
Among the buried treasures, we found a set of duelling pistols. They are old, dating back to the 1880’s, according to the ELG marking on them. Stored in a candy tin, hidden at the back of a closet, we wondered if this was a piece of history, a family heirloom which he stashed away in memory of his own childhood. We will never know.

Undoubtedly, on a personal level, the photographs hold the most value – except, we can only identify a select few individuals. Even then, the stories behind each of the pictures has faded beyond memory’s reach. I am starting to understand the value of creating memoires, complete with pictures, if only for personal use. After all, a picture can only hold as much value as the memory it provokes.  

So – the moral of this blog: share stories with your children, label pictures and write down the important stuff. Who knows? It is entirely possible that piece of costume jewellery, bequeathed to you by your great-aunt Millie, might have been a rare gift to her from a famous Prince. Its true value is undoubtedly more than you’ll ever know.