nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for January 2015

words from the woodland – bird song

with 2 comments

I have a lot of projects underway, mostly on the ‘administrative’ side of writing.  I have been ordering and revising a manuscript of poems on abandoned aspects of our landscape ( see https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/first-and-last-and-in-between/ ).  Now, I have reached the point where I really need to set the manuscript aside so I can approach it with a fresh eye in a couple of weeks.  So I will use the days between to order another manuscript of poems about sounds from the woodland.  The poems mostly use animal and bird sounds and songs as metaphors for human communication.

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Some of these poems have been around a while, packaged in another form.  In the last weeks, I have been thinking about the bird song metaphor and now I am ready to consider the poems in relation to one-another.  Perhaps I am responding to the Black-capped Chickadees, chattering in the Tamarack.  Or the Hairy Woodpecker who comes every few days to beat his head against our telephone pole.  Perhaps I am thinking more than usual about human communication (having just learned to ‘Twitter’).

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January 8, 2012 ‘two Mourning Doves’ Jane Tims

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drawing doves

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‘… cease to mourn …’

Virgil, Eclogue I

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grey sighs beneath graphite

or where eraser softens

troubled feathers

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doves lament, disturb

fine detail, mourn

the fingers’ tremble

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pencil strokes beak

and fingernails, kernels

of corn, husks of sunflower

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 30, 2015 at 7:17 am

art auction !

with 6 comments

This week begins another Art Auction at Isaac’s Way Restaurant in Fredericton, New Brunswick.  For the next 4 months (late January through to late May), Isaac’s Way displays art by local artists and runs a silent auction and sale.  This 23rd auction will sponsor MUSIC lessons for Fredericton kids-in-need.

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Here is how Isaac’s Way describes the benefits of the Art Auction:
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Thank you for your interest in this community fundraiser at Isaac’s Way Restaurant! We organize three auctions per year, each raising funds for one of four artistic areas: dance, art, music, and theatre. This is a win-win-win opportunity for sure: the children gain confidence and creativity, their families feel blessed to have the help, you [the artists] get a chance to display in a public space along with free advertising, the instructors earn more income and word-of-mouth recognition, the community feels good to be helping the kids, customers get local, original art at amazing prices, our wait staff has an excellent conversation starter with visitors, and our restaurant gets a colourful face lift three times per year. Everyone wins!

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In this 23rd Art Auction, Isaac’s Way will be displaying the work of more than 50 artists.

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I have a painting in the auction, an acrylic entitled ‘blue stone’ (24″ x 20″, unframed, gallery edges).  It is a version of a watercolour done during my virtual cycling trip along the Cornwall coast.

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Here is the watercolour, ‘blue stone’ …

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October 25, 2013  'blue stone'   Jane Tims

October 25, 2013 ‘blue stone’ Jane Tims

 

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And the acrylic, now for sale or auction at Isaac’s Way …

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blue stone  (Jane Tims)

blue stone (Jane Tims)

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This will be the forth painting I have contributed to the auction:  ‘blue stone’ (acrylic), ‘iron gate in Cornwall’ (acrylic), ‘gate in Ponsanooth’ (watercolour), and ‘rainbow gate’ (watercolour).

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If you are in the Fredericton area, I hope you stop in at Isaac’s Way.  The food is delicious, the atmosphere is inspiring and you have a chance to acquire a piece of art by a local artist!  The restaurant is located in the historic York County Court House (est. 1855), so you can even dine inside the former vault!

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 26, 2015 at 9:27 am

stitching a small quilt

with 6 comments

These cold nights, I keep warm with a cup of hot chocolate and a sewing project.  This winter I am making lap quilts, small quilts only 30 inches by 36 inches.  A lap quilt is a cozy companion on a chill evening.

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To make the quilts, I am using small scraps of material from my many sewing projects over the years.  My quilts would not win any awards.  The pattern is random and the stitches are long and a bit crooked, but the quilts are fun to make and use.

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quilt

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from the air

forests and snow-

covered cornfields

are light and dark patches

of a quilt pieced together, stitched

with fence posts and wire

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 23, 2015 at 7:48 am

take flight, metal wings, take flight

with 12 comments

A fellow blogger recently suggested a different way to present poetry in a post – to give a little background on the poem’s origins and perhaps show the evolution of the poem from draft to ‘final’ stage.

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Sounds like fun!

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The poem below began with a watchful eye.  I am always on the lookout for an image to inspire a poem.  Walking the path to the door of our house, my mind was on the rain, the warmish day and the forecast, an expected return to freezing temperatures.

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I spotted the bird bath, full of leaves and melted water.  And perched on the edge of the bird bath, a moulded metal bird.  This bird is bolted to the edge of the bird bath’s copper rim.  Presumably he is there to attract the real birds.  But since no real birds use the bath, he is the only one ever there.  My relationship with this metal bird is mixed.  I like its quiet perching on the edge of the bath.  I like its rusty patina.  I don’t like its occasional disappearance when its metal bolt lets go.  Then, I have a struggle to find its little metal body in the thick layer of leaves under the bird bath.

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So this is the set-up for the poem – a day of January thaw, melt water everywhere and knowledge the metal bird will not stay put.

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First, a photo of the metal bird.  The words ‘take flight’ were bumping around in my brain and I knew I would have a poem from this.  I want this poem to be about opportunity, about taking change and turning it into possibilities for an altered future.

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I’m a poet, not a photographer …

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Then, I grabbed my ‘rough book’, the place where every poem I ever write begins.  Sometimes, I hand-write several drafts, but in this instance, I felt like typing, so I copied the rough draft into the computer, almost word for word, but not quite.

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brief thaw

2nd draft

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metal bird, embellishment

of the copper bird bath in the garden

take your chance, your flight

temperature at melting

perhaps your rigid wings

can flex, find feathers soft

as tomorrow’s snow

fluid as ice now running

in the brook, molten icicles

their glitter subdued

follow chickadees who land

grab a seed and return to the

woods for safety, take your leave

and next spring I will not

find your rigid body fallen

wrapped in last year’s rotting

leaves on warming ground

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So that is the rough poem.  I like it.  It flows, it contains some interesting metaphors, and it captures the possible flight and altered future of the metal bird.  It needs editing.

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For the next draft, I ‘press’ on words, getting rid of some, replacing others.  I annotate the earlier draft, finding places where I like the flow, where I find internal rhyme or alliteration.  In this poem, there are lots of words about metal, and I hope to include others.  I change ‘ing’ words and the past tense to verbs in the present when possible.

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brief thaw

3rd draft

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metal (iron) bird, (silver-plated ?) embellishment

of the copper bird bath in the garden (doesn’t matter if it is in the garden)

take your chance, your (take ?) flight

temperature at melt  (title says this)

perhaps your (rusted?)  rigid wings

can flex, find feathers soft (fine?)

as tomorrow’s snow (when, last week ? next week ?)

fluid as ice, now running runs

in the brook, molten icicles

their glitter subdued

(take flight ?)

follow chickadees,  who land

grab a seed (from the bird bath ????) and return fly to the

woods for (woods for  ?) safety (of the trees ?) , take your leave (take flight ?)

and (and or/ore) next spring I will not (not ?)

find your rigid (rigid ?) body fallen (fallen ?), wrapped

in last year’s rotting muck rot of

leaves on warming (new-warmed?) ground

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Well, I made a complete mess.  Perhaps the fourth draft will be an improvement.

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In the fourth draft, I incorporated the above ideas, and made a lot of changes.  For example, I tried some different approaches to stanza …  some of my poems are very irregular in their stanza breaks.  I think this poem needs stanza breaks to help the reader.  I also wanted to repeat ‘take flight‘ at intervals in the poem.  Although I considered stanzas of three and five lines, my final decision, four stanzas of four lines, was based on the syllable counts of the lines and the sloping shape of each stanza.  I am a rabid syllable-counter.  I find it helps me decide what words are not needed at all and makes me consider alternatives.

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brief thaw

4th and (for now) final draft

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iron bird, embellishment

of the copper bird bath

take your chance

take flight

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perhaps your rusted wings can

flex, find feathers, fine as

next week’s snow

take flight

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molten as icicles from

the feeder where chickadees

seize a seed

take flight

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or next spring find your metal

body rigid, wrapped in

last year’s rot

of leaves

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take flight

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Before I make further changes to the poem, I will read it aloud several times.  The repetition of ‘take flight’ may have to go.  Notice, I have not changed the title of the poem … that could change, although I like not mentioning the actual thaw in the poem.  The title is a great place to add other information for the reader and I often forget this opportunity.

Do you have suggestions for other changes I could make to the poem?  I welcome your comments!

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

January 21, 2015 at 7:33 am

first and last and in between

with 12 comments

beautiful notebooks

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This past Saturday, I worked to create a manuscript of some poems I have written on the theme of discarded and abandoned elements of life and landscape.

There are 38 poems in the rough manuscript, making up about 50 pages.  The poems are a study of change.  They include poems about abandoned boats, roads, churches, toolboxes, sheds, trucks, bridges and so on.

I have published a few of these on this blog … for an example, see ‘Foggy Molly’, a poem about an abandoned boat (https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/abandoned-boat/ ).

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abandoned fishing boat

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Part of creating this manuscript is to put the poems in order.  I find it hard to decide how to arrange 38 poems so they flow, one into the other, and so they tell a story.

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1. My first step is to print a table of contents of the rough manuscript.  I read each poem through and assign a couple of key words to describe it, jotting these into the table of contents.  For my 38 poems on abandonment, I obtained 27 key words.  Many of these are shared by various poems, but a few are unique to one or two poems.  My key words are, in no particular order:

lost ways, regret, grown over, barriers, evidence, sadness, history, haunted, adaptation, voice, intention, anger, change, memory, denial, improvement, new life, lost function, buildings, items, understanding, cruel, resistance, life/death, shock, keeping past, lost/misplaced, broken

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metal bridge on the South Nation River

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2. Next, I put everything into a table, with Xs to show which key words fit each poem.  This does not take too long to do and helps me consider the meaning of each poem.  Below is just a small section of my table:

Poem Title lost ways regret grown over barriers evidence sadness history haunted adaptation
Recovery X X X X
Reason for Leaving X X X X X
South Nation Bridge X X X
Outfield X X
Diverted road X X
Invitation to tea X X X X X
Lane X X
Abandoned church X X

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3.  Once I have the table created, I tally the Xs in the columns and decide which key words are most common.  Key words occurring in more than 10 poems are shown in bold:

lost ways, regret, Grown over, barriers, evidence, sadness, history, haunted, adaptation, decay, intention, anger, change, memory, denial, improvement, new life, lost function, buildings, items, understanding, cruel, resistance, life/death, shock, keeping past, lost/misplaced, broken

The words that apply to almost every poem usually speak to the theme of the poetry collection:  in this case, the words ‘change’, ‘memory’ and ‘lost function’ were very common, no surprise in a collection about things abandoned.  Other key words, common to a few poems, suggest possible themes for the sub-sections.

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1941 International

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4. My next step is to look at the key words and see what themes ‘speak’ to me.  I also want to have a progression of ideas through the manuscript.  In this case, some of the poems are sad and rather hopeless, while some show how abandonment leads to understanding, and, in some cases, to new purpose and new life.  From the key words, I selected six sub-sections: ‘lost ways’, ‘decay’, ‘haunted’, ‘broken’, ‘understanding’ and ‘new life’.

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5. Now comes the long work of re-ordering the manuscript.  I create a new document and, one at a time, transfer the poems into their new sections.

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6. I like to name each section, taking the name from a line in one of the poems in the section.  These may change later, but for now, they give me a reference within each group of poems:

lost ways – ‘overgrown …’

decay – ‘left to rust …’

haunted – ‘ghosts are lonely here …’

broken – ‘dry putty, broken glass …’

understanding – ‘the rock to stand on …’

new life – ‘a turn towards horizon …’

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February 11. 2014 'old shed near Charlo'   Jane Tims

February 11. 2014 ‘old shed near Charlo’ Jane Tims

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Today, I will begin a read of the manuscript to see how the poems flow within their sections.  Many revisions are ahead, but this is my favorite part of the work!

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Have you ever gathered poems into a manuscript and did you use any particular method to decide the order of the poems?

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 19, 2015 at 7:38 am

thwarting the squirrels

with 8 comments

Feeding the birds provides me with hours of enjoyment in winter.  However, bird feed is costly when marauders come to call.  I have watched with dismay as the tongue of a single deer laps up every morsel of sunflower seed.  Or laughed as the squirrel eats peanuts from inside the squirrel-resistant bird feeder.  Lately, a very fat raccoon has emptied our suet feeder night after night.

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Last weekend, we rigged something new to see if we could reserve at least one feeder just for the birds.  The idea is courtesy of my friends A. and D. who showed me how well the contraption works at their bird feeding station.

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The idea is simple.  We stretched a sturdy cord between two trees at a height of about seven feet.  On the cord, we strung six empty 2 liter pop bottles.  We tried all sorts of ways to drill holes in the plastic and found that a screwdriver heated over a candle flame melted a neat hole in the bottom center of each bottle.  Then we put a metal s-hook between the two center bottles and hung the feeder.  The squirrels will try to walk the tightrope to get to the feeder, but when they reach the pop bottles, these spin and the squirrels cannot hang on.

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After one week, the squirrels and raccoon have left this feeder alone.  They still have some food to eat at the other feeder, but at least the seed in this one is reserved for the birds!  As you can see, the snow banks are getting higher and soon the squirrels will be skipping across the surface of the snow to reach the feeder.  Higher please!

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 16, 2015 at 7:04 am

red sled

with 6 comments

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on her sled
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from the window
I watch her
she is one red mitten, lost
on the path, smitten
by the four-footed track
of a wild rabbit
hurrying home
or the toe of a red
shoe, peeks from under
the hem of a white
crinoline, a cardinal launches
from one tree, snow-laden
to another
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Copyright. 2015 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 14, 2015 at 2:05 pm

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