Friday, March 30, 2012

ODE TO MARY LEE

So, March Madness. What an awesome thing this has been. Huge, huge thanks to Ed Decaria and all the wonderful poets who participated -- and congratulations to the Final Four:  Suz Blackaby, Stephen W. Cahill, Debbi LaCroix, Greg Pincus.

Can't wait to see what y'all come up with next!

But what I really want to talk about is Mary Lee Hahn and her recent post at A Year of Reading about her experience. How she learned that she's good at -- and enjoys-- writing poetry. When I read that, I just thought, YES. That's what it's all about. That's why these things are important. And I, for one, needed that reminder.

Plus, I absolutely LOVED Mary Lee's poems. Read them at March Madness Live Scoreboard. And so, in  Mary Lee's honor, I've written a little poem, after the famous one by William Carlos Williams:


 
This is Just to Say

I have savored
the poems
that were so
cavalier

and which
you were probably
writing
in a scuttle

Forgive me
they were whacked
(no stigma)
so true

(Sorry, Mary Lee - I wasn't able to make magic with your words the way you did!)

As for me, I entered March Madness with a moniker Not Quite Shakespeare. I got the words "shenanigans" and "volume." 

Why a moniker? I was trying to shake up my creative life a bit. And it worked: I wrote poems far from the style that I would normally write. It's good to stretch, you know? While it was fun, I ended up feeling validated, like, yes, what you are doing is right for you. I really prefer lyricism to rhyme. And I think my natural writing voice is better suited for older kids than younger ones. 

Mostly, I have loved getting a peek inside all these wonderful poetic minds. SO INSPIRING!

And I'm excited to see how our Progressive Poem unfolds... beginning Sunday, April 1. See you here, there and everywhere! And don't forget to visit the lovely Heidi (who also wrote a lovely poem for March Madness) at My Juicy Little Universe for Poetry Friday Roundup!

20 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to progressive poem! Let the fun begin!

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  2. Great ode to Mary Lee. The MM tournament certainly shook up the poetry community in a good way. It was nice to see new-to-me poets and get caught up in the excitement. Looking forward to the progressive poem :).

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    1. Jama, maybe next year you'll brave MM?? Would love to read your fresh-peeled poems!

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  3. That is so sweet, Irene! I enjoyed Mary Lee's tournament poems a lot, too. The whole tournament has been fun. :-)

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  4. Irene,
    I am SO honored!! I'm overwhelmed! I'm blushing! ...no, wait... I'm beaming!

    Your poem is wonderful! I can't believe you managed to get all of my words into one poem!!

    And here's what I've said to Ed, and a bit in my PF today, and I'll say it again here -- one of the MOST amazing things about the tournament was the way it built a supportive community of writers. In the past, we've all SHARED poetry together on Fridays, but to lift that to another level and to WRITE together and to offer critical writing observations (in the comments of each pairing) tightens the bonds, and that's what helped me to start to really BELIEVE in myself as a poet.

    So thankyou thankyou thankyou to YOU and to everyone who offered encouragement during the tournament. I look foward to continuing to writing with all of you -- my new writer's group!

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    1. Beaming looks good on you, Mary Lee. Keep those beautiful poems coming!

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  5. Oh Irene, I just LOVE this ode to Mary Lee. I also thought it was brave of you to participate under an assumed name.

    Like you, I prefer lyricism to rhyme and my natural voice is more suited to older kids. Actually I've been feeling myself straddle the fence there, some of my stuff could go older MG to YA but some of mine is YA to adult. Makes it hard to market me. I'm trying to get brave and send poems out to lit magazines. Scary thoughts.

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    1. Yes, Susan, I sense a kindred writing spirit in you. Should you ever want to try me at Birmingham Arts Journal (I serve as poetry editor), I would welcome your submission! www.birminghamartsjournal.com

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  6. So much to love here. What a great lead in to Poetry Month! And congratulations to all for stretching boundaries!

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    1. Thanks, Jeannine! I told Ed "March is the new April." Which puts super-high expectations on April, doesn't it? :)

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  7. I missed most of the March Madness on account of my trip, but it sure does sound like it was fun!

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    1. But oh it sounds like you were having so much fun of your own, Julie! Glad you are home safe and INSPIRED.

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  8. I agree that the Tournament has done something fundamental to the community, which had already begun to change since I started hanging out here (and rather intermittently, compared to many). There *is* something about writing together, about exposing your process (bravely) and then finding that others will support it with care but honesty, that changes the dynamic to making writing odes to each other possible. It's positively heady, the feeling that has bubbled up out of this. Thanks, Irene, for what you've been doing to forge more and wider connections. (And didn't you love having Ode to Billy Jo playing in the background of Ode to Mary Lee?)

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    1. Heidi, you are so right. And yesyesyes to Ode to Billy Jo! One of the all-time greats.

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  9. Mary Lee's post was wonderful and inspiring and informative too. What a wonderful time that Ed gave us all. Your poem is clever to include those very challenging words, Irene. You're right, this March Madness is stretching! I'm looking forward to the 'LONG' poem. Will be fun!

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    1. Linda, you are the Best Blogger ever. Just saying. Glad to know you!

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  10. What a heartfelt and fantastic tribute to Mary Lee's poems. I, too, adored watching them emerge from the madness in the Madness. I love knowing that YOU were the one behind that name, Irene. Such great fun, and a very neat idea to write under a pseudonym. (I assumed that I did not know the person and now must go back and read your poems.) Thank you for hosting this progressive poem - the first line is such an invitation! a.

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