Poetry Today

It all began with one of my posts on one of my facebook groups. I’ll paste the complete initial post here:

I have a confession, and a doubt that follows it. First the confession that is in form of narration of a set of events. I’ll number them. 

  1. I wrote a sonnet. 2. I sent the sonnet to several magazines for publication. 3. It was rejected everywhere. 4. i did not change a single word of the sonnet, and only hit the enter key roughly after every three stressed syllables. 5. I called the resultant ‘thing’ free verse and sent it again. 6. They liked it and accepted it.

Now my doubt:

In our times, keeping all the other elements constant, can the acceptance of a new poet’s poem depend so much upon its conformity with the current trend, i.e. predominance of free verse?
Have you, the other poets, Indian or not, also experienced something like that?

The responses were varied, one of them advised me to stick with the sonnet form and keep submitting for publication etc. To that I replied that I had not burnt my sonnets but kept them safe for a day when I would be able to get them published because a lightweight like me couldn’t afford to remain unpublished. So, I compromised and sold today, to buy tomorrow.

I then posted a sonnet of mine, and its free version. The sonnet as you can see, although not a very regular one, has many features of a traditional sonnet, including a dash of the Petrarchan rhyme scheme abb1/2a cdd1/2c  efe gge, a clear division of flow from octave to sestet etc. yes, I agree that the number of stresses per line is never 5, it has a range of 4-6. There is a lot of enjambment that gives it the flavor of Shakespearean sonnets. With anaphora, alliteration, metaphors, images and symbols galore, the sonnet is not very bad!

Row after row, steps rising from the river,
Row after row, steps falling to the same,
Rising, going westward, falling, coming – a game
Words play on life; and life, a little later                                                                                         Shells the words all down, and leaves
Just the strong impressions, firmly etched,
Deeply carved, with colours true, fetched
From the days of old, when life was lived.
The game, when it’s over; whistles blown,
Feet when tired come over the falling steps,
Tracing back the same old worn out stone –
Steps at the end of a summer-day-long run,
Over them of a never-resting sun –
Lead them gently riverward, down the steps.

The free verse form has a range of stressed syllables per line (1-4 stresses) but majority of lines have 2-3 stresses. The free verse form was liked better and was at least selected on submission, not the fate of its parent sonnet.

Row after row,
steps rising from the river,
row after row,
steps falling to the same,
rising, going westward,
falling, coming – a game
words play on life;
and life, a little later
shells the words all down,
and leaves just the strong impressions,
firmly etched, deeply carved,
with colours true, fetched
from the days of old,
when life was lived.
The game, when it’s over;
whistles blown,
feet when tired
come over the falling steps,
tracing back the same
old worn out stone –
steps at the end
of a summer-day-long run,
over them
of a never-resting sun –
lead them gently
riverward,
down the steps.

My poet friends liked the poem in sonnet form better. To them I said, that I liked the sonnet form better myself. ‘But the trick works. Try it any day. First send your regular form poems to 10 places. The send the same poem converted into free verse to around 10 random (different) magazines/journals and wait for their response’.

Then came an informed comment on my pressing enter key at three syllables: ‘The line is the unit of poetry. Changing the line changes everything. Also, if you broke the line after every three syllables it’s not really ‘free’, is it? Not trying to defend whoever the editors were. There is a lot of seemingly random selection. Subjectivity is not just unavoidable but necessary in the process; obviously they will only publish what they like. But yes, ‘what they like’ can be quite unpredictable’.

To that I pointed out: ‘As you can gather from the example verse give in the comment above, the ‘three syllable’ rule was nearly, or roughly followed. There were many variations. Hence ‘free’ verse. Now, random is characterized by its unpredictability. In this case, it’s highly predictable, hence, not at all random. ‘What they like’ is heavily biased against, e.g. sonnet – a time-tested and respected traditional form’.

At one point the very validity of the form for poetry today was questioned  by calling it strait jacket. To that I replied ‘What you call strait jacket, has been seen as string to the flying kite by some. Wordsworth wrote on beauty and necessity of writing even his kind of Romantic verse – spontaneous overflow – in strict sonnet form. A solid foundation of large vocabulary, good grammar, poetic vision and power to think deeply and clearly are from where one should begin composing. Pity, majority today just launches into writing poetry less-than-half-prepared, so they promote poetry less-than-half-made’.

One discussant gave interesting and useful information: ‘I recommend taking a look at sonnets written in the last half-century. Don Paterson’s anthology ‘101 Sonnets’ might be of interest. The modern sonnet does not always stick to the Petrarchan or Shakespearean forms. Of course if one insists that the modern sonnets are not sonnets we descend into an argument about definitions. You might also find Paterson’s introduction to the anthology interesting’. To that was added another informative remark: ‘I am aware of those, but still you will find good quality sonnets with various variations of Elizabethan, Petrarchan, or even terza rima being published in Hudson Review or Texas Review…’. Then came pointers to a contemporary journal focusing exclusively on sonnets. (not been updated since 2011 apparently) , and to Howard Nemerov sonnet contest, which is a prestigious contest held every year.

The valid objections to the form were regarding: following strict restrictions ‘that you may find in the work of 20th century greats like Robert Frost or Howard Nemerov. However a greater multitude have deviated and improvised like Elizabeth Bishop, Dylan Thomas, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath. Even Percy Shelly deviated in ‘Ozymandias’. I don’t think a great multitude of folks are breaking the rules for the sake of it, they just don’t bother, and the vers libre movement has legalized free verse or even poetry of the eye, the experiments of Cummings or Hulme will remain inaccessible to such strait jacket schools of thoughts. To summarize, “much of the wisdom of one age is a folly of the next” somebody famously said, can’t recollect’.

This one deserved a detailed reply and got one:

I love Frost’s poems. You are right about his adhering to forms. You are also right about the modern poets’ deviation from norms, and the point is proven when we keep their poems side by side to the vapid Edwardian poetry a little before their time of best poetry, i.e. 1920-30. There actually is no verse that is ‘free’, because the moment the word verse is put before it, it becomes highly constrained to a form – the verse form. I have T S Eliot’s one full essay to support my point, where he proves that there actually is no free verse, only good and bad verse! It’s good that you mention Percy Bysshe Shelley to support the point you were making. He is the master of formal poetry, e.g. his brilliant use of terza rima in ‘Ode to the West Wind’ and then in his Triumph of Life, who wrote formal poetry at its best all his life. His ‘Ozymandias’ has five stresses per line, regular rhyme pattern, and although not Shakespearean sonnet can be divided into two unequal parts etc. I agree with a lot of what you say, but the point I am trying to make is that something is definitely rotten in the poetry judging and publishing scene today, and we may do our bit to improve it.

One poet-critic commented: ‘ Sure, not all publications are friendly to formal verse. I think this hostility is diminishing though. (Possibly the editors have become so illiterate they just can’t tell a poem is in meter. I am not kidding.)’

The discussion ended for the time being with a call for action:

I like the sound of the word poet, specially when they call me that. I suspect, strongly, that you like it too. I have always liked calling myself a poet, but the realization of its actual meaning came late. Anybody (like me) can and may think that he is a poet, but being a poet is not easy. A poet writes poems. One who does not, may think whatever he likes, but can not rightfully own the title/position/name of a poet. We have a moral, aesthetic, collective and personal obligation to create: every day. (Don’t mind my self pep-talk, I s\felt a kindred spirit around so gave vent to it). I say we write poems and show each other what we think is good poetry through our own poems.

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PPP Ezine 1.1

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Poetrypoeticspleasure Ezine

Volume 1; Issue 1; Year 2017

Copyright 2017 Poets of Poetrypoeticspleasure Ezine

All rights reserved.

Respective poets own all copyrights.

Santiago by Richard Lutman

De- branched or Not? by Sandeep Kumar Mishra

Requiem to Peace by Tejasvi Saxena

A Rainy Night (Haiku sequence) by James G. Piatt

Land of my Dream by Yajnaseni Mukherjee

A  Lonely Tree by Asha Visvas

Night Bird by Sergio A. Ortiz

The Breathing Days by Lynn White

Loosening Ties by Suryasri Saha.

The Yellow Streetlight by Mrinalini Raj

About the Poets

It’s difficult to choose and pick poems for an anthologist when so many alternatives, and good ones at that, are available at any given point of time. It becomes even more difficult when the selection is for a poetry ezine as the poets are contemporary and the decision has to be made on poetry hitherto unread, unheard and un-judged.

Of course, it’s refreshing, invigorating and pleasant to know that so many good people are taking (stealing, should I say) time from out of their modern day urban everyday life in order to create a thing of beauty. Look at the profile of the poets in this issue. There are students, teachers, professionals and amateurs, full-time and occasional writers and they take pride in what they do, and identify themselves as poets.

It’s a privilege, and a pleasant one, to get a chance to get exposed to so many novel and valuable ideas arranged in a way that declares:

Though this be common man’s language, and the words used are of everyday use, the syntax too is quite familiar, the overall effect is not at all common, because the urn, well-wrought, is no more just the metal or marble it is made of.

 

Santiago by Richard Lutman

 

The coil of sea arcs his veins alone on the olive water
Cod break the salty crust
A flip and thrash
Slap slapslapslap Slap
The tub brims
The hooks are his again
Oil scattered rainbows warm his feet.
Gray canvas dips towards docks taken by oranges and pomegranates
He listens,
The bright bodies of fish upon the planks in death.
And he turns unafraid
To watch the clouds scurry into the distant hover of scaly shadow.

 

De- branched or Not? by Sandeep Kumar Mishra

 

 

They say going away is not

Love lost but the beginning of creation,

Of  a big bang or a garden fruit,

When they are ripe or ready,

They are de-branched.

 

I prefer a simple union,

Not detachment

Because avalanches await for

Those who stray far and wide.

Why going off is a part of the process?

Is this division or decrement:

One part detached, one part united?

 

It is a wireless connection.

We would love more or forget completely

The distance defines the correlations;

We will meet but misfortune suffices

A refuge for the time;

It is not the matter of gain or loss

A joy kindles the sadness of separation

 

Requiem to Peace by Tejasvi Saxena

 

To seek you is an eternal wait

As drawing streams from dreary desert

Like dredging humanity from dried seabed

Of dead consciences, reeking of death.

 

To find you, is as empty;

As promises you make in a hollow space

That lost your presence long back.

 

From gleam of Nut-brown eyes

To shimmering Dal lake

From scented whiff of kahwas ,

To rows of wooden shikaaras,

From young firans to lanky achkans

Who sought a streak of bright Sun;

To blind eyes and crevices of wombs

Which crack with every sound of gun,

 

Not once, you winced or shrieked aloud

At wailing mothers, mourning on dead

And, gaunt faces of senile fathers;

Whose lives are dim lit

Plummeting in receding rays of sunset.

 

You lit up the hopeless hopes

Of half-widows and half-mothers

Who live one moment after other

In quest of their spouses and sons.

 

You seem to fancy the angst of youths

Who try to grab your tentacle hooks

In unidentified cesspools of blood

Agonized Kashmiriyat knows you though;

 

You march in a Caravan of diplomats

Whose words are sugary entanglements

That bind your fleeting silhouette

To elude in a blink of a swindler’s eye.

 

A Rainy Night (Haiku sequence) by James G. Piatt

 

 

Bells in the church peal

A sudden cheerful refrain

Sending prayers upward

 

Deer in the meadow

Leap in unbound ecstasy

As moisture covers earth

 

Land of my Dream by Yajnaseni Mukherjee

 

 

I leaned on the balustrade

Wind whipped through my untamed hair

The chill engulfed me

I wove the tendrils of hair into the fabric of my dreams

 

The azure horizon kissed the green blue sea

My mind transcended the visible realms

And emerged in the sun kissed land of my dreams

 

Pristine, undulating landscapes

Nomadic wanderlust

Satiated stomachs

Contented smiles

Cozy hearths

Secure havens of peace

Proud city lines

Industrialization saluting technology

The lavish bounty of nature

Harnessed to generate progress

 

No outraged modesty

No outcry of inequality

No gaping chasms of wealth

No pilferage

No terror unleashed

No forced infliction of brutality

No untold tales of torment

Lost in the maze of reality….

 

A  Lonely Tree by Asha Visvas

 

 

Autumn leaves

A calligraphy in ochre

On a blanket of sighs :

A sea of sibilance .

 

The wind whipped tree

Holding a single leaf

The next gust signs it off,

Like the trace of a dream.

 

The shadow of the tree

Rests in the backyard-

Loneliness- bleak and nameless,

Fear howls in the silent house.

 

Night Bird by Sergio A. Ortiz

 

 

I ask for nothing

of this land

that has given me everything

 

I loved and hated its men

found my Adam

he fled with a bodybuilder

as soon as I gained weight

 

I sought God

and in his place found knowledge

I discovered a home in my body

 

and since then

moved from place to place

without desires

 

this is my way

my destiny does not depend on luck

I am the night bird

foretelling death in its song

 

The Breathing Days by Lynn White

In the days when I still breathed,
the days before
living took my breath away,
the days before
I knew my soul was there.
I thought about this time,
this time of no light,
the forever night time
with no breath, no air
to breathe.
Just dust and darkness.

And I pondered.

Would there be slow decay
or fast.
Stillness or movement.
Now I know.
I know everything about
the dust and darkness.
But I can’t tell you.
Not now
in these days
of no breath,
no air
to speak.
Only my soul can speak.
Can you hear me?

First published in Fragments of Chiaroscuro, Summer 2016

Loosening Ties by Suryasri Saha.

 

Relations and ties breach often
at times untold and hard,
parting ways with us,
leaving us all distressed…
Emotions overflow yet the heart
feels desolate…
We wish to reconcile,
entangle the ties in bonds stronger
but the other side often seems too hostile,
they just distance us farther..
Forsaken we feel as if in dire need of the
ones now gone deserting us..
Soul gets hollowed by the void created in life
with their departure sometimes ensuing
confusion as to why they left and
and if they won’t return..
Their thoughts dawns realization reminding
that rendezvous may not happen anytime soon
or maybe never trickling tears but hope remains..

Hope of coming across them,
maybe at some instance of time,
after all storms are calmed,
when all pangs are soothed..
And even if it doesn’t happen,
broken ties don’t redeem as hoped,
live on with their memories you once lived.
Stop being mournful for ties which loosened
in spite of utmost care,
Its not your fault if you tried yet
they are not here..
Turns those sobs of despair into sobs
of happiness felt on reflecting
the sweet memories so never ending.
Sadden yourself no more if you tried
and walked down the mile,
maybe it wasn’t so worthwhile..
Give way not to doubting the love and bond
once shared in the past which now is so tattered
but to the memories of the moments shared
which can never be shattered.
The ones left may not return but
their memories will never waver,
they will stay forever..


The Yellow Streetlight by Mrinalini Raj

 

My first memory

Of that yellow light

On the street, is of years ago;

When I walked half-miles

through that dark

Clutching my mother on the

Left and Papa on my right.

 

Nor were there hundred-homes

Then, neither the Cackling kids

I now hear on the lane outside.

 

Today, when I click,

And stop mid-way on feeling

Again the yellow around,

Often I am asked, why this

‘Love’ ( if you agree).

 

No, I don’t know, why

Your ‘LED’ hurts me, yes, I hear

your issues with

The hundred-Watts. I know

When you say it is hot today,

I see my aunt lying sick

Next-room, ‘It is the heat’, they

say. Your concerns for the

green, I know.

 

While we walked through

The dark, there was

This yellow-street light,

Only one, which

We met always. In that

Quiet there, were three more

With us. Laughs and Smiles

Took shapes.

 
Years piled, and I saw more

Of her, loving a little more

Of that shadowy-bright.

 

Today, She leaves the trails for her

Young whites, vacating all slow.

Maybe these Nights are

her last.

 

About the Poets

 

Richard Lutman has a MFA in Writing from Vermont College.  He has taught composition and literature courses at Rhode Island Community College, Fairfield University, The Learning Connection in Providence, Rhode Island, and short story classes as part of Coastal Carolina University’s Lifelong Learning program. He has published over two dozen short stories, three chapbooks, two novellas and one nonfiction book. He was a 2008 Pushcart nominee in fiction and the recipient of national awards for his non-fiction, short stories and screenplays.   His first novel was published in May of 2016. His web site is: www.patchofdirt.net

 

Sandeep Kumar Mishra is a writer, poet, and lecturer in English Literature. Last year his work published in more than 50 national and international magazines. He has edited a collection of poems by various poets – Pearls (2002) and written a professional guidebook –How to Be (2016) and a collection of poems and art- Feel My Heart (2016).

http://www.sandeepkumarmishra.com/

http://sandeepkumarmishra5574.blogspot.in/

 

Tejasvi Saxena hails from New Delhi, India. He is a dabbler in photography, a poet in solitude and thinker in all seasons. He loves the company of books, kids, nature, music, food and dogs. His works have been published in Muse India, Visual Verse, Duane’s PoeTree, Indian Periodical, Dissident Voice Journal, Tuck Magazine, Spillwords, Scarlet Leaf Review, Random Poem Tree, Peeking Cat Poetry, Phenomenal Literature, The Avocet Review and Thumbprint Magazine. He is on instagram @ Tejasvisaxena.

 

 

James G. Piatt has published 4 novels, “The Ideal Society,” (2012), “The Monk,” (2013),  “The Nostradamus Conspiracy,” (2015), and Archibald McDougle PI: An Archie McDougle Mystery (2017), 3 collections of poetry, “The Silent Pond,” (2012), “Ancient Rhythms,” (2014), and “Light” (2016), and over 1,000 poems, 35 short stories, and 7 essays. His poems have been nominated for pushcart and best of web awards, and many were published in The Top 100 Poems of 2016, 2015, & 2014 Anthologies, and the 2017 Poet’s Showcase and Yearbook. His fourth collection of poetry will be released this year.

 

Yajnaseni Mukherjee speaks three languages, reads and writes poems in two, and dreams in one. She has always been a poet. She writes poems whenever she is not busy doing so many other mundane things. She also gets joy in teaching poetry and literature to University students.

 

Asha Viswas is a former Professor of English, Benaras Hindu University, Varanasi ,India. She has also taught at  Aligarh and at the University of Calabar, Nigeria. She has published three collections of poems. The first collection Melting Memories was published in 1996 [Delhi]. For this she was awarded Michael Madhusudan Academy Award  [Kolkatta] in 1997.  Her second collection Mortgaged Moorings  [writers workshop, Kolkatta] was published in 2001. For this she was given the Editors’ Choice Award by the International Library of Poetry , U.S.A. IN 2003.Her third collection of poems was published in 2011 [Kolkata].

Her poems have featured in the shortlist anthology of all India poetry competition organized by the British council and the poetry Society India , Slug fest [U.S.A.] , The Mawaheb International [Canada] ,The Brob Times [ Ireland] , Jalons [France] and various other journals and anthologies in India. Some of her poems have been translated into French. She has read her poems in Western Europe, the U.S.A. and African universities. She had a fan club of her poetry in the U.S.

 

Sergio A. Ortiz is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a four-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016 Best of the Net nominee. 2nd place in the 2016 Ramón Ataz Annual Poetry Competition sponsored by Alaire publishing house. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in FRIGG, Tipton Poetry Journal, Drunk Monkeys, and Bitterzeot Magazine.  He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard. 

Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem ‘A Rose For Gaza’ was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition 2014. This and many other poems, have been widely published, in recent anthologies such as – ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by Silver Birch Press, ‘The Border Crossed Us’ and ‘Rise’ from Vagabond Press and ‘Selfhood’ from Trancendence Zero – and journals such as Apogee, Firewords Quarterly, Indie Soleil, Midnight Circus and Snapdragon as well as many other online and print publications.

Find Lynn at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynn-White-Poetry/1603675983213077?fref=ts and  lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com

Suryasri Saha is doing her B Tech. She is a poet from India who loves writing and believes poetry is her forte.

Link to the book she has written – https://www.amazon.in/Unexpected-Love-Story-someone-expecting-ebook/dp/B01N1NS4TD?_encoding=UTF8&keywords=an%20unexpected%20love%20story&portal-device-attributes=desktop&qid=1496832105&ref_=sr_1_21&s=digital-text&sr=1-21

Mrinalini Raj prefers the tag of a ‘Reader’ over that of a ‘Author/Poet’. An English Literature Undergraduate at St.Xavier’s College, She is on her way to discover Womanhood. She has strong opinions hence few friends.

Blog- mrinu.wordpress.com

 

PPP Ezine: Vol 1; issue 1

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My dear friends, poetry lovers and poet

I am glad to announce that the first issue of the very first volume of PPP Ezine is out. I thank all the poets who sent their poems to the magazine and congratulate those whose poems are in its first issue. A no-monetary-return kind of profitable venture like PPP Ezine needs your constant encouragement and support. So, please keep sending every month your poems (3-5) pasted in the the body of your email, along with your short bio, to the magazine at rajnishmishravaranasi@gmail.com

PPP Ezine is available here:

https://poetrypoeticspleasure.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/ppp-ezine-1-1/

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and for wordpress people, if you want to download it’s here:

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Yours sincerely

Editor

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