Friday, May 27, 2016

What's New in Contemporary Tibetan Poetry



[16th Karmapa reading at Latse] 


About twelve years ago I undertook an exhaustive study of Tibetan poetry in English as a subject for my MFA thesis.  Over the years, the Internet has became a main vehicle for dissemination of contemporary Tibetan literary works. You Tube, in particular, continues to provide a creative avenue of expression for Tibetan song writers from within Tibet as well as in exile. As experience has shown there is no more powerful vehicle of change than song. Read my essay here, "What One Tibetan is Doing for his People" on the power of song for social change and how this is impacting Tibetan culture.  

Here are a few recent online resources of interest I have compiled:

Big Bridge Press (online) Anthology of Tibetan Poets


An inspired reading by Tibetan poet Drugmo of Dhondup Gyal's famous Waterfall of Youth which I wrote about  back in April 2005 here on Poetrymind. 



A work in progress with more to follow....

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Next Meditation and Writing Workshop is Saturday, June 4, 2016



We continue to meet every first Saturday of the month at the Shelburne Falls Shambhala Center. Please bring your poems or work you find inspiring by others to share (9 copies).


Here's a poem I recently came across online I had never read before:


The Zen of Housekeeping
By Al Zolynas

I look over my own shoulder
down my arms
to where they disappear under water
into hands inside pink rubber gloves
moiling among dinner dishes.

To continue reading go to this blog A MInd of Being Here which is dedicated to poems with a 'mindfulness' emphasis.

You will also find on this link lots of other other related poems including, Happiness and Gone by one of my favorite poets, Malena Morling, with whom I worked a few years while co-directing the New England College MFA Program in Poetry until my retirement in 2012 (now defunct).

I love the way the most ordinary object or mundane event can transport us to a deep experience of sacred world or mystery.

Here is a wonderful Emily Dickinson poem #875, "I Stepped from Plank to Plank"

So now it is nearing June that time of Nearing Summer Solstice. I offer you my poem from a few years past:
Nearing Summer Solstice

At Tires for Less on Route 9
I wait to exchange snow studs
for all season tires past the April deadline--
A young skinhead,
with a spider web on his naked
elbow strips the lugs
which hit the floor as he moves on haunches,
feral menace with a drill bit.
I pace the pavement,
looking down at the Connecticut River.
At the edge of blacktop next to a field of low
lying wildflowers and scrub brush,
broken glass and butts indicate I'm not the first.
Two monarchs catch my attention, then flecks
of orange move among purple cones,
a different butterfly, with fur edges.
This day is long with light and I have time
to wonder how they know to convene
by the hundreds in this dump
oblivious to trucks and cars speeding past,
their movements counterpoint
to my own noisy impatience, calmed a moment,
until spider boy calls me over.


Reprinted from Connotation, November 2009






Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Few Poems from our Meditation and Poetry Writing Group Meeting on May 7, 2016


Sleeping Geese


Canada geese are asleep on the river
under a warm October sun,
heads tucked under their wings,
neatly folded bodies bobbing gently
as they rest from a hard migration.
They left the blue north days ago
and soon will labor southward,
but today they are idling here.

The current urges them toward the falls,
yet each bird stays in place,
neither drifting downstream nor straining up.
Beneath the ruffling surface of the water,
shad and catfish swim
the green murk of the upper river.
Perhaps the moony globes of their eyes
see the pale yellow underside
of sunlight glinting on wavelets 

and black webbed feet
waving slowly back and forth,
the flock of geese sleepwalking together
to keep from slipping away.

by Sarah Doyle


V Day

Full Scorpio Moon
peaks at dawn

Ride in on that wave
mustn't PASSOVER

Even unleavened bread
kneads yeast

To RISE

by Terry Carter



Chilly Spring Morning at Massacre Overlook, Canyon de Chelly

Interest ran high on the ledge
tourists peer hesitantly down into the deep canyon.
            buzzards circle
                  circle
                  circle
Little ones write signs in red sand,
Mother’s hawk juniper bead necklaces
Young man by river weaves
                        dream catcher from reeds
Sun at ten casts long shadow from Spider women rock.

Hieroglyphs visable on red rock at impossible height,
club footed Kachina,snake, helicoil,
petroglyphs with power lines,spider webs
De Chelly, Chaco, Orabi, Gila Bend 

News there
           letter unopened, unnoticed,ignored, denied
           sold in a gift shop
Sun rises
sets
sets
rises
White horse stands midstream flanked by two burros 
drinking fresh dark water. 
Everything waiting.
Those who know are patient,
patient like massive red cliffs

Two German tourists squinting into the sun 
argue logistics of the slaughter at Massacre Rock,
muse on Kit Carson, admire their new cowboy boots and hats

A boy with dog, drifts off,
sits by grandfather,catching shade under a pinon tree,
not far from the careful gaze of mother’s third eye.





Jim Bauerlein
4.20.2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Into the Wood, a Poem Inspired by the Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery



Recently the Brattleboro Reformer reported on the restoration of the Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery. For years while living on Forest Street, I walked on the back trails behind the Retreat and was often moved by the fallen tombstones wondering who these people were, mostly women.

The article about the restoration and dedication is here.

Here is a poem I wrote some years ago selected by Ilya Kaminsky to be published in Poetry International.


Into the Wood

Twilight, I walk toward the wooded retreat graveyard

where mostly women from the Vermont Asylum for the Insane

are buried, final resting place for wanton girls, syphilis cases,

melancholics, or other ailments—

their unclaimed bodies interred over a century ago

now sunken holes beneath my feet.

Perhaps, they worked in the dairy or gardens, exercised, had craft

activities in sun-lit rooms, ate well, or if dangerous, were assigned to locked

dungeons out of view. That solitary citadel of humane architecture just around the bend

its pointy spire heralds token hope for a once wealthy clientele.

The Retreat graveyard's now littered with broken headstones

felled by generations of pranksters, carved names obliterated by moss

but so many died young I notice.

Did they just waste away? Give up? Abandoned?

The year I worked in the Retreat kitchen for minimum wage,

I saw the locked cells while taking the underground passage

to deliver food to wards for elderly patients, food I ground myself

bound for nagahyde recliner trays set up at mealtime

under droopy necks nested into shoulders

roused by cheery nurses on my arrival.

Sometimes, when I pushed my cart alone piled high

with steaming dishes, sweat down my back,

swift images like ciphers of light dart as I roll past

rows and rows of white doors set in lovely stone--

specters animated by my presence, or an imagination

activated down in the basement, my numerical mantra of counted steps

steady against pipe gurgles and the hollowed strangeness of abandoned spaces

like the broken culvert next to my childhood house counting out rocks

I tossed into the torrential brook below where I prayed to make the pain

go away, a string of pearls threaded to bind the fissure between

the present moment and distant future yawning so unattainable--

all of seventeen, how even ordinary life can snap a girl in two

for reasons barely recalled,


Jacqueline Gens
Published in Poetry International, Issue 15/16, 2010,







Sunday, May 08, 2016

Another Losar Poem for Year of the Water Tiger



[Original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen]



The following poem was commissioned for Year of the Water Tiger:


Behold the Water Tiger
Worldly navigator
Among all things adventurous
At home in the unknown
Buoyed by the ease of water
Even the heaviest notions
Lightly flow by twists and turns
Where no one else dares to go
You are the harbinger of mystery
A playful glint of luminosity
Amid roiling turbulence
Flash of certainty in the deep swell
Of aquifer forever brave
Our sleek innovator
All accomplishing to the end

Jacqueline Gens
5/8/2016

Original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen coming soon!

Please contact me (jacqueline.gens@gmail.com) if you would like to commission an original Birth poem with art

To read more Losar poems visit the Mansion of Elements project page here

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

More Haiku Offering by Jacqueline Gens



While looking through old notebooks and teaching materials I came across some Haiku and American sentences jotted down that I did in 2012.

On Leaving my Dentist's Office on High Street, Brattleboro, VT

Taunted by impermanence three strangers stand
By the side of the road contemplating the sadness of animals
Cat run over

American Sentence Version

Taunted by impermanence three strangers huddle around cat road kill

Dream

Furry animals shiver together while Buddha comforts us

American Sentences


My Mother's sad face returns to me in the soft snow I didn't notice

BREATHE the monk Philip said to me when two phones rang at the same moment

Haiku

The old poet sat with me on the cement stoop
Early morning coffee in Boulder
Yelling caw caw back to the crows above

Snow plows scrape  ground
Harsh words uttered grate tender
Phantom enemies

The red haired young man
Hates me like so many others
Forgive me, son





   

Monday, May 02, 2016

Spring is here and that means Garlands of Lilacs, Forsythia, and Daffodils




The Lilac Thief

This year I looked for lilacs
off the beaten track
in places no longer tended –

A different kind of boundary,
long rows where once houses stood,
lots now empty.

I love the deeper purple of old bushes,
their crushed bloomets falling into my hand
taken from gnarled bark bearing heavy plumage.

I am the local lilac thief,
that one who stops to follow
the scent of unseen blossoms.

Jacqueline Gens (many years ago)


Here is a fine essay by poet/dakini Annie Finch on Spring's arrival from the Poetry Foundation site.

Updates from Poetrymind for May 2016

  • May 5 Lecture/workshop in Pittsfield MA  on the Poetics of Uncertainty 
  • May 7 Next Meditation and Writing Group at the Shelburne Falls Shambhala Center
  • May 15 at Khandroling Paper Cooperative we will have a workshop with Dara Juels 
The Morris Dancers are out in full force these days. Here's a classic May Day dance/song at dawn:




Then there is our own Packers Corner friends who have celebrated May Day for over forty years with poet Verandah Porche in a photo taken by Poetrymind writing group participant Terry Carter.



Sunday, May 01, 2016

Forbidden Scribbles from a Vipassana Retreat



Forbidden Scribbles**
on a Vipassana Retreat


Lying in Buddha posture
Outside I hear geese
Like me flying home

*

First Buds of Spring
Bird rustles in the underbrush
Can you ask a poet not to sing?

*

Old lady nods off
Drooping head signals torpor
Lion awakes without fail

*

Are clouds sky--sky clouds?
Where are you mind?
I looked everywhere and can’t find you 

*

Cars rush, Ocean of Dharma***
Squeaky door, cat’s meow
What’s real?



**Generally one is discouraged from writing or reading on a traditional Vipassana retreat. These mosty composed in my head outdoors during retreat, then jotted down on scraps of paper
***Part of my Bodhisattva name