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.                                       

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Recap of our July 3 Meeting on Walking Meditation and Poems

Eight of us met on July 3 in Shelburne Falls for a relaxing yet stimulating day of literary and dharma gab mostly focused on walking meditation and the tradition of walking poems. [See previous post for details].

Here are a few more pictures of the day followed by Paula Swenson’s fine poem generated after her walking meditation on the Labrynth. Next month on August 1, we will meet at the Dickinson Homestead to visit both Emily’s house and the Evergreens next door in Amherst with old friend and colleague, Chard deNiord for some robust discussion followed by lunch. Chard is a marvelous scholar of Dickinson’s life and work. Our September 5 meeting (first Saturday of every month)  will return to our Guilford, VT location. A second cohort will begin to meet in Shelburne Falls the third Saturday of every month beginning on August 15.

The Labyrinth at St. Joseph’s Church

The names of the living and the dead

Etched on stones under the watchful eye of the steeple:

The mother of a colleague

The families of students, long forgotten

Clam Shell Alliance friends from Seabrook, where they built

the reactor anyway

The name of an almost forgotten friend,

 a Vietnam Veteran,

                                     who laid down on the railroad tracks
to protest
the movement of weapons in California
And lost his legs
Ferlingetti mentioned him in a poem
“Veterans with PTSD” etched on a nearby stone
and “Om Mani Padme Hum”
Om mani padme hum

Paula Swenson 

Later in the day, a few of us visited Khandroling in Buckland, MA to experience a demonstration of sacred dance in the tradition of Tibetan Dzogchen master, Choegyal Namkhai Norbu at the newly built “Vajra Mandala Hall” which houses a universal mandala.

[Photo by Sean Quinn, July 3, 2015]