Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Season’s Greetings from Poetrymind

The Coming of Light*

Even this late it happens: the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.*

Dear Friends (known and unknown) and Family, 

Best Wishes for the Holiday and warm wishes for your good health and well-being.  Everyday, I am grateful for the many gestures of kindness and support you all give me.  I offer each one of you my deepest aspiration for your happiness in this time of the rising light and coming New Year

Much Love Jacqueline

Photo Credit: Dharamsala candle by  Rosemary Rawcliff

*Poem by Mark Strand Reprinted from the Academy of American Poets website

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Meditation and Poetry Writing Group Recap for Saturday December 5

The following meetings will take place each first Saturday of the month at the Shambhala Center in Shelburne Falls, MA 

71B Ashfield St
Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts 01370

Jan 2
Feb 6
Mar 5
Apr 2
May 7

There is currently room for one or two more individuals. In order to facilitate a meaningful amount of time for each person, we are restricting each group to 6-7 individuals. Please contact Jacqueline at or 413-522-1125

Today December 5, 2015 five of us met for discussion and sharing our work. 

Here is Barbara Paparazzo's fine poem for the month : 


We hear Chapel Falls before we see it
a trail in the woods

then snow water
glacier green

red berries
daggar sharp clarity

mosquito larvae in pool
a dead mouse in 2 inches of water

thinking of the immortal Tufu
escaping the An Lu Shan rebellion

on foot with his family
by river and paths

eating berries
to stay alive

arriving starved, exhausted at the house
of his old friend

they share a few poems
the desperation of the times

how words 
come down to us

poems like red berries
to pick and eat

I love this poem for its artful simplicity that creates vivid imagery to arrive at the conclusion that words are sustenance in these desperate times. The reference of Tufu fleeing with his family is particularly poignant given current events. 

We discussed a variety of writers including Gary Snyder’s new book -  This Present Moment, Frank O’Hara’s "To the Harbormaster”, and John Keats’ Negative Capability.  Terry read song lyrics she wrote. Vince read a Haiku like poem from memory. Next month we will focus on Haibun and Haiku. Resources forthcoming.  


Here's a poem I wrote earlier this morning following a day sorting through old family photos. 


Planetary orbits sundry forces pulverize matter down to the minute particles as centrifugal forces gather all to naught sucked into matrix of unbecoming

Stardust breath

Tonight I sort through old family photos for whom there are no heirs. Me at one, two, three and so on, visits with grandma to the San Diego Zoo, Lake Tahoe, in Malibu. Photos make loving memories but generations heaped up gone now ……..gate gate paragate*…Time slip a moment 

All gone into flames into the unknown
As I enter no-name
Once again

December 5, 2015
Early morning

*gone, gone, gone beyond, classic mantra of prajnaparamita

Saturday, November 28, 2015

An Exquisite Corpse from our September Writing Group

Shall I postpose the  Acceptation (and realization)
            and scream at my own eyes?*

“Cherchez La Vache” ....Look to the cows if you want to know....
         Look to your mind

Look into your own eyes, see the inner world within

As self-protecting fantasy dissipates blazing disc
        in the Western horizon

Where in the eye does the I begin?

Azure Sky, iridescent grass, lone rose
      of sharon hangs in the summer breeze

The eye of the daisy, the mouth of the black-eyed susan
    fingers of fern reach out accepting our presence

Merging infinite symmetry in all its asymmetrical glory
     and time battered legacy of untold truths

We braid ourselves into pleasure, amid crickets, cookies
  and chat, tales of color and comedy

Fresh earth, matrix mana, kind-hearted
           stars explode

Raining sparkling dust covering the mirror of the soul 

To find out more about an Exquisite Corpse, visit here

*A line from Walt Whitman

Saturday, November 14, 2015

New Meditation and Poetry Group Begins December 5 in ShelburneFalls, MA

WHEN: Beginning Saturday, December 5, 2015 (ongoing)
Meeting every first Saturday of the month

TIME: 11:00 AM-2:00 PM

71B Ashfield St
Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts 01370
United States

COST: By donation [Recommended $5-$20.00  per session]

11:00 AM Guided Sitting Meditation
11:30 AM Walking Meditation
11:45 AM  Check-in/where we are with our writing
Noon - 1:00 PM: Brief Presentation by Jacqueline or guest
followed by writing prompt or exercise
Break for Lunch
1:00-2:00 PM - Share our work

Monday, November 09, 2015

A Picture from the Meditation and Poetry Group Outing to Visit Chard deNIord

[Sarah, Chard, Terry, and Marilyn, S. not in photo by Jacqueline Gens]

Chard deNiord, newly appointed Poet Laureate of Vermont, regaled our November writing group with his stories about the late Ruth Stone. DeNiord read a number of her signature poems followed by several of his own poems inspired by her from his new book INTERSTATE (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)

His TED talk below resonates with some of our themes, in particular, Keats’ Negative Capability as a base. 

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Allen Ginsberg on Revision and First Thought, Best Thought

The Allen Ginsberg Project publishes many of Ginsberg’s teaching transcripts. Ginsberg taught for years from 1974 until his death in 1997 at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and later at Brooklyn College from 1986-1996 or 97. The following excerpt is part of a longer transcript on revision

I think the learning how to write is actually the realization that the ordinary mind is sufficient already, and all you have to do is be true to that, be true to your mind of the moment. What I'm saying is it's an attitude toward art, rather than rules, a minute-by-minute practice. As I said, I revise, but by this time the attitude is , "This is it, right now - If I can't do it now, I can't really (do it later any) better". So, if you start on that basis, you cultivate an attitude of presence all the time (and also cultivate an attitude of trust to your own mind, and playfulness with your own mind, and…(acceptance) of thoughts which are embarrassing, or shameful, or which seem wicked, which you might reject if you were thinking that you could choose what you are). So you have to accept what you are to work on that basis. And to accept what you are, having made a decision to accept what you are, you find (that) what it is (that) you are is more accessible than if you "postpone the acceptation" (that's (Walt) Whitman's line (from "Song of Myself" - "Shall I postpone the acceptation (and realization) and scream at my own eyes?") - [Editoral note - this was one of the lines he considered using as an epigraph to "Howl"]

Monday, August 03, 2015

Two New Poems from the Mansion of Elements

Here are two new poem drafts from The Mansion of Elements Project 

There are 60 animal/element combinations for poems I am currently trying to complete in collaboration wioth visionary artist Ingmar Pema Dechen

Here is my draft for the upcoming 2016 Year of the Fire Monkey

Ho you Fire Monkey
Adorable Familiar of blessed places
Resourceful, enchanting
Cunning when need be
Your chatter flattens dolts of ignorance
When you take charge in a carpe diem kind of way
Your Ballast of confidence
Lifts our spirits
Seer of the future
Interlocotor to lost opportunities
Let’s take to heart
The ease of your swing from here to there
Always awake in the fire.

Here is another draft for Year of the Wood Rooster in honor of poet Anne Waldman born in 1945

Such iridescent display
Cockadoodiling us awake
Each day without fail
As reliable as the sun
you rise to summon forth
Bright scrys of portend
Acuity for the larger meanings in the scheme
Of so-called phenomena
Beneficent scribe to the downcast
Outsiders, end stop
You set the bar high
A million hands in the fire
No task too daunting
Harbinger of new, always fresh
Our number one

Written Night of the Blue Moon, July 31, 2015
Shelburne Falls. MA

Like rising dough this is in the proofing stage I will beat down once more before finalizing. 

Sunday, August 02, 2015

In the Light of her Own Fire: Recap of the Meditation and Writing Group Visit to the Emily Dickinson Homestead

[Photo by Jacqueline Gens- Left to right, Brenda, Barbara, Terry, and Marilyn. 
Shari was there too but not in the picture]

On Saturday, August 1 some of our  meditation and poetry group visited the Emily Dickinson Homestead including Evergreens, next door -- the home of Emily’s brother Austin and sister-in-law, Susan.

It’s been about ten years since I visited the museum with a tour of Emily’s house. What a change and so much dynamic information to add to our knowledge. Since then, I've read a number of works including the letters between Sue Dickinson and Emily in Open Me Carefully and the correspondence between Emily’s parents--Edward and Emily Norcross.

So here’s a couple of high points for me: 
  • I was very interested in the coincidence of Emily’s first avowed episodes of withdrawal in her letters which coincided with her 27th year and the beginning of her intense dedication to poetry which, in that year alone, produced 300 plus poems. This proliferation also coincided with the Civil War. The docent attending us said that she read the newspaper daily for her entire life. That really interested me. I had an flash of her relaxing with her version of the NYTimes--The Springfield Republican eagerly reading the  news.
Here is a brief on the influence of the Springfield Republican, one of the 15 newspapers the Dickinson family subscribed to and edited by family friend, Samuel Bowles. IN terms of her other reading, I was also interested in the collection of 2000 library books owned by the Dickinson family. The collection of 600 books at the Houghton Library in Harvard were selected based on the premise these were the ones Emily read. So now I want to know what she actually read. Perhaps another field trip in the works.
  • Another huge inspiration I experienced was the introduction of Dickinson’s “Variants” in a display devoted to her poetry.  I had not paid much attention to this previously. Here the author of the essay below calls it “The Limitless Lyric”. There was even a kind of sliding apparatus on the wall to insert little cards with the variant words. I want to make one of these.
Here is a part of an essay:

In Choosing Not Choosing: Dickinson's Fascicles, Sharon Cameron suggests that Dickinson's "variants extend the text's identity in ways that make it seem potentially limitless" (6). Cameron points out that to "consider poems as individual lyrics is to suppose boundedness," and, therefore, Dickinson's "unbounded" or "limitless" lyric constitutes a new lyric form (5). Like Cameron, I see these variants as an integral part of a "limitless" lyric; however, I would add that because variants destabilize the exact thought or emotion, Dickinson's process of choosing (or not choosing) foregrounds the act of word choice itself and indicates that she was more interested in the process of creation and self-expression * than in editing her poetry for typographical publication.

[That is what we try to do in our writing group]

  • In her bedroom she had portraits of George Elliot and Elizabeth Browning, her heroines  [See below]. The bedroom was currently empty awaiting the new wallpaper reproduction but this photo shows the actual collection housed in her bedroom.  I somehow missed this detail the last time I visited the homestead.  I loved the docent’s quote from Mattie Dickinson about her Aunt Emily in her bedroom--say something like ....”Mattie turn the key, now that is freedom.”

  • We also visited the Evergreens, next door. A study in contrast, a bit haunted for my taste with deep burrows of unhappiness embedded in the very walls. Susan Gilbert Dickinson is interesting and I was,”blown away” as they say by the intense and brilliant correspondence between Sue and Emily in the publication, Open Me Carefully.  Not only were they entwined by deep bonds of affection but they were intellectual peers far beyond anything offered by their relations with their male family and friends. Sue’s obituary of Emily is unforgettable. 
These are just my initial impressions of the day. Perhaps more will surface and others from the writing group can offer their own impressions. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015 Meditation and Poetry Writing Group Schedule and Topics

[Photo Last Poppy by Laila Reiss]

The Guilford writing group is full. However, I am now accepting people into the Shelburne Falls, MA group-- at least through 2015 we will follow the same topics.

List of Topics and Schedule -All topics are just resources. Participants are welcome to can bring in work that interests them regardless of the particular topic of the month. 

June’s Topic of Unknowing not online

July 3, 2015 Resources
Meditation in Motion: Labrynth
Walking Poems
Visit here for recap

August 1, 2015 Resource
Field trip to the Emily Dickinson Homestead
with Guest poet/scholar, Chard deNiord
An exploration of place,friendships, and presence
Visit here for recap - In the Light of Her Own Fire

September 5, 2015 in VT and September 19, 2015 in Shelburne Falls
Resources Extended Metaphor and Finding One’s Authentic Voice
Projective Verse riding on the vehicle of breath
Meditation : Harmonizing breath, guest teacher or skype/video presentation

October 3,2015 in VT (Brattleboro Literary Festival)  

November 7, 2015 in VT and November 21, 2015 in Shelburne Falls, MA
The Liminal (Betwixt and Between) 
The Thin Line
Meditation/the Bardo - Life is a dream Investigation of observing the arising and dissolving of thoughts. Things are not as solid as they seem.
Slogan: Negative Capability by John Keats: 
Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.
Future Topics/ Resources
This Floating World of Haiku
Three Part Logic Exercise


Shelburne Falls, MA TBA
Resources Where is the I in the eye
Meditation on the elements of body with guest Vipassana teacher, Kate Wylie*
The Elements (earth, air, fire, water) are the basis of life which includes our own physical existence. Through meditation practices we can observe this situation. Seeing this truth can suggest the tenuousness and changing nature of life. This observation allows for a decrease in clinging and an increase of wisdom about the way things are both within ourselves and around us in the natural world. 
  An exploration of the lyrical and narrative modes of identity 
         Mind Writing Slogans: "Show not Tell"

“Always the seer is a sayer” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

January 2016 stay tuned for topics.


All writing groups by donation recommended $5-$15 per class depending on one’s circumstances. All classes limited to under 8 individuals. 


FIRST SATURDAY: Guilford, Vermont beginning September 2 first Saturday of every month, 

THIRD SATURDAY Shelburne Falls, MA beginning September 19  third Saturday every month in Shelburne Falls, MA

I am also looking to connect with two other writers for a small memoir peer group (no charge) for serious consideration and critique. 

Jacqueline Gens is available to lecture or teach in the classrooom or out on a variety of topics, mentor privately. All fees by donation. Contact me at

Friday, July 24, 2015

September 5th Writing Group Theme: The Extended Metaphor as the Doorway to Finding a Unique Voice

A Few Resources for our September 5th Meeting in Guilford, VT:

What does Metaphor mean?
late 15c., from Middle French metaphore (Old French metafore, 13c.), and directly from Latin metaphora, from Greek metaphora "a transfer," especially of the sense of one word to a different word, literally "a carrying over," from metapherein "transfer, carry over; change, alter; to use a word in a strange sense," from meta- "over, across" (see meta-) + pherein "to carry, bear" (see infer).
The metaphor uses figurative language to carry forth an idea the original greek sense...META (Across) FERO (carry)

Here is a wonderful TED definition by the Zen poet Jane Hirshfield

WIKIPEDIA definition of an EXTENDED METAPHOR with several examples from Shakespeare, Whitman, T.S. Eliot

Some of my favorite examples of EXTENDED METAPHORS but you can research your own too.

ANNE WALDMAN - Make-up On Empty Space
FRANK O’HARA- To the Harbormaster  my essay on the poem
ALLEN GINSBERG - The Green Automobile 
DIANE DiPRIMA - Loba (not online)
ADRIENNE RICH - Diving into the Wreck 
LI YOUNG LEE - Persimmons 
WALT WHITMAN- Song of Myself 
SHELLY:  Ode to the West Wind    

How can a poem with an extended metaphor become a gateway for finding your authentic voice?

The Green Automobile, according to Ginsberg was the precursor to Howl--The Green Automobile is a whimsical poem where he gave himself permission to free associate on his heart’s desire-- a road trip with Neil Cassidy. At the time he was writing short line lyrics. Sometimes it’s just useful to step out of one’s usual forms and expectations and let the content lead one to a fresh new perspective.

Some Writing Prompts: 

1) Select a metaphor or theme that deeply resonates and then begin to craft a poem by just compiling images and free associating relating to the central metaphor thereby extending it. Let the poem begin to write itself with these images

 2) Exercise: Select a topic of your "Heart's Desire" a secret fantasy  (the topic of the Green automobile). Instead of shame regarding your secret desire consider it a launch towards discovering your authentic voice. 

3) Choose a poem of your liking with an extended metaphor--such as Shelly’s  “Ode to the West Wind”  or Whitman’s "Song of Myself” and read it, belt it out loud,whisper it, read in a multiplicity of voices and oratory styles.  Savor the vowels, consonants, and the rythmic breath. Be shameless in your sense of proclamation because you know, that is what the "Ode to the West Wind" or "Song of Myself" are about. 

POETRYMIND Groups and workshops meet on the following schedule

Guilford ,VT First Saturday of the month 
Shelburne Falls, MA third Saturday of every month NEW beginning September 9th

To be continued.......

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Diane di Prima on the Poetics of Enlightenment

Here are two videos of Diane diPrima in Steve Goodman’s Poetics of Enlightenment class. Really extraordinary. In Part 1, she speaks of Loba which synchronistically this morning I added to our third meditation and poetics class list of resources. She also speaks of her creative process. Not only is Diane a great poet of RECEIVED poems but a great scholar of so many poets--she’s taught on John Keats, Ezra Pound, Sappho, to name a few. 

Part I on you tube reprinted from Steve’s Facebook page:

Part II on You Tube reprinted from Steve’s Facebook Page:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What is Poetrymind?

[Photo by Rosemary Rawcliffe of Frame of Mind films]

Officially Poetrymind’s a Decade Old

In the Spring of 2005 while co-directing the New England College MFA Program in Poetry, I considered starting my own blog. I still remember sitting bolt upright one night when the word poetrymind manifested as the title. I believe I first heard this word from Russell Edson--at NEC when he read. At one point he responded to a challenge from a faculty saying something like there is only one thing that matters and that is poetrymind. Edson was a magical and deeply ironic prose poet whose work I admire. His work epitomizes for me the simple notion that things are not what they seem. Thus, the phenomenal world is infused with magic and the mystery of discovery with ever fresh eyes.

 For me poetrymind is synonymous with “First Thought, Best Thought,” which is to say, thought that represents a state of mind free from conceptual overlays of judgment and second guessing. Rather it is elegant thought borne from pure perception, the original thought before attaching judgement. The slogan, "First Thought, Best Thought", coined by the late Chogyam Trungpa and Allen Ginsberg at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics is not about writing without revision, as some believe. It is about experience first hand--direct and pure without a lot of egotistic filters or projections.

I am reminded of what the great Zen master, Susuki Roshi called “Beginner’s Mind” --- every moment offers a “fresh” experience. The ground is open vast mind or as Pema Chodron aptly puts it—The sky is open mind and everything else is the weather. Words are the display of poetrymind –alive with potentiality.  Words in this context can become a vehicle for discovery of who we are. 

See No Blood for Hubris on Russell Edson                                                  

Monday, July 20, 2015

News from Mary Gilliand

[Mary Gilliand reading at Mocha Mayas in Shelburne Falls]

Recently I received an email from poet friend and vajra sister, Mary Gilliand, in response to our second meditation and writing group posts. She writes:
Inspiring to read about your writing in motion workshop on tsetso blog. Good poem written during that you posted!

In the late 90's I made several labyrinths use the design both walking outdoors and finger-tracing indoors with auditoriums/cafes full of people always liberates the censor-mind, whether the person is new to writing or extensively published or anywhere in between.
I'm glad we share this overlap among our many.

Spent several weeks in California around happy family event, so sorry to miss Rinpoche's summer retreat there this year. Peter and I drove up to San Juan Ridge for a few days, stayed at Kitkidizze with Gary Snyder for the first time since we left there in '76. Ah! precious teacher, 85 years old now. Those over-sunned hills, though - not the place for a northeast woodlands rainy day woman.

Attached 2 poems from new issue 'Hotel Amerika.' Do you know it? I like what they print.

***In that same issue of Hotel Amerika are poems by Chard deNiord....who will join us for our third meeting at the Emily Dickinson homestead on August 1. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche Visits Allen Ginsberg’s Poetry Class at Naropa

Recently the Ginsberg Project posted a transcript of one of  Allen’s early classes at Naropa Institute (now University) when Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche visited his class. In this particular class, Trungpa introduces a three part logic to working with language. The Ginsberg Project is a treasure trove of Teachings direct from the horses mouth, as they say!
The notion of what’s called threefold logic - which applies to a general state of mind, how we experience our phenomenal world (and obviously poetry comes from an expression of one’s phenomenal world - in the written form - it could either be prose or poetry form)It’s not so much, from (the) Buddhist point of view, (is that) (if) you write good poetry, particularly, but how your thought-patterns become elegant, that you see (the) phenomenal world as a process, stages, as a review, from a state of mind - That, first, we have what’s known as the ground (which we perceive is the general sense or idea of how things work – like a bright, and heavy, sense of brightness, and then you begin to have some idea that it is sunshine, and then, because there is a sense of brightness, then you experience the sense of sunshine, and having experienced the second stage that way, then we have a conclusion, which is "(it) dispels (the) darkness”. So those (three stages) are what is known as the threefold logic, which actually does apply very much to thehaiku approach – that there is an idea, and then there is a complimentary remark with (the) idea, and then a final ending, (sometimes which is punctuated by humor, or sometimes punctuated by opinion, or (it) could be just an open ending). So that seems to be an interesting kind of training and it seems that's how one thinks when you look at the real world and then just write that down. And then by doing so, a person's approach begins to become very methodical and nothing is jumpy, and everything is somewhat organized in your mind, and therefore it creates a sort of chain-reaction, probably, to the reader of (the) poetry as well, those who read your work, their thought-patterns begin to have some sort of systematic situation rather than just things jumbled together. And , in turn, the theory is that having such (an) approach, you develop a…you’re helping the world to destroy chaos and you create order in the universe.
There is also an historic 1976 reading of Chogyam Trungpa's own poems and discussion of Tibetan Poetry on site where many of the Naropa class recordings are archived. Visit here:

Chogyam Trungpa—historic 1976 reading in Tibetan and English at Naropa Institute, Boulder, Colorado 

    The Ginsberg Project under the direction of Peter Hale has initiated the publication of many of Ginsberg’s teaching transcripts from his years at Naropa and Brooklyn College.  There are  commentaries on the works of numerous poets including, Blake, Whitman, Haiku and other forms.