Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Apr 28, 2012


This year, for National Poetry month our poetry community again put together a DIY "open mic in a book." This is when we each create one page of poetry or visual art, front and back, and make 200 copies of it.  We have an artist design the covers and the look of the publication. Then we have a  session where each copy is collated, numbered and stapled.  Unfortunately, I just haven't been in a documenting mood, so I have no pictures of the process. It was similar to what we did for our first issue two years ago, only this time we did it at the UU church instead of ArtReach (which, sadly, is no more...)

This year, I was thrilled to be invited to be part of a launch party at the Halcyon Gallery, along with the literary magazines from the local colleges: Indiana State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (those engineers have some good literary moves!) and St-Mary-of-the-Woods College. The event was last night and it was great fun - art from the students was hung and all the magazines stretched out in a line on several tables. Well attended, too, the gallery was humming with voices and excitement.

The last hour of the evening was devoted to readings. Seven of us read our poems from subT2. 
I chose to read a poem I wrote last summer about Clover, my beloved companion whose dear, sweet image appears throughout the years of this blog. 

On May 10 last year, I wrote here:
"....I've been spending a lot of time outside in the yard with Clover - whenever the sun is shining and the temperatures aren't too chilly. We are having lovely days - one at a time.  Being there. Present in each moment. Dog time and dog mind..."

Midsummer, I wrote this:

My dog is dying this summer

Her horizon wavers
and I squint into the hot light of her going,
walking a boundary between dream and life, 
sky and earth, wishes and what-is.

I’m evaporating away some days
or stalking the air for clues.

The heat sizzles in my bones.
My hair’s a frizzy halo: I’d like to be holy,
deserving of the light around me.
I know Clover is.

An email promises: “speak a new language in ten days suzanne”

I want to learn the syntax of this summer,
its poignant grammar,
fluency in the idioms of presence,
all the synonyms for hope.

One day I hear everything whispering “be afraid.”

Another day I know that command was really “ be brave.”

Outside we are whole together,
the perfect dog-being, imperfect me.
Wasps spiral in idle threats.
Birds carry on.
A breeze moves through haze and my silence,
ignites green fire in the trees,
an excitement of leaf and branch.
The too-long grass shimmies with it

and Clover, dying, quivers with it all.

Everything about her still whispers, “I’m alive.”

                                              --Zann Carter (2011)


Apr 20, 2012

Poetry Ahead: Max Ehrmann 2012 Competition

For the second year, ArtSpaces (a non-profit group for public outdoor sculpture) has offered a great poetry competition for the six  Indiana counties in our state-designated art region. This competition was created when ArtSpaces placed a life-sized bronze statue of poet Max Ehrmann in the center of downtown Terre Haute.

Here's what I wrote about it for ArtsIlliana Spectrum Magazine:

"One of the nicest things about the Max Ehrmann Poetry Competition is there’s a series of events for area poets and poetry-lovers. For poets, there is the challenge of working on and submitting poetry to a contest with generous awards and no entry fee. Then there’s the excitement of the awards ceremony where we get to hear the winners read their work. After that, we have the pleasure of attending readings given by each of the judges, who are distinguished poets writing from this area of the country. It’s a stellar way to observe National Poetry Month, to encourage people of all ages to write and read poetry, and to continue to honor Terre Haute’s poet, Max Ehrmann. ”

This year's judges were Peter Bethanis, Micah Ling and Karen Kovacik (who is now Indiana's poet laureate.)

I was thrilled to be among the finalists again this year and here is my winning poem, which received 3rd place in the category of Poems Inspired by a Work of Art. (My post about last year's competition here .)

The work of art that inspired me was a 1945 painting by Lyonel Feininger, "Old Stone Bridge."


She walks in the world full of roses

and thorns

and walks
wherever she wants
whenever she wants

until she comes to a deep dark water
and a stone bridge

and the hairy troll boys
who spit and snicker and demand their toll.

“You owe us, girlkin,
if you want to pass.
We’ll let you play,
we’ll bargain and barter,
but there’s a price set
and there’s a debt to pay!”

She shakes her head,
jams her hands in her pockets,
tosses her hair like a wild red flag
and begins to dance
across the old, old stones
and the moon dims 
and a fog rolls in

and the troll boys grin
and reach to mark her
for life--

This is where
she jumps.

Swims.   Or learns

she can fly.

                  --Zann Carter (2012)


Apr 2, 2012

Windward Scarf

On the needles right now and actively being worked on: Windward by Heidi Kirrmaier. (That's a link to the pattern on Ravelry.)
This pattern is ingenious and fun so far.  I can't find a picture of a finished one to link, but if you are on Ravelry, do look up finished projects with this pattern. The photos with the pattern don't really show how interesting this pattern is.

Shapes are built of garter, stockinette, reverse stockinette and sometimes you are knitting two sections at once. So far the directions are clear and I haven't had to constantly look at the pattern - once I begin a section, it's easy to remember what I'm supposed to be doing.

I'm using size 6 needles with Kauni multicolor  in rainbow (EQ.) I've had this yarn for a long time, and I'm very excited to find such an interesting knit to show off its amazing play of color.


Apr 1, 2012

Poetry Ahead: NaPoWriMo

Yup. It's April and that means National Poetry Month and NaPoWriMo.

I'll be doing NaPoWriMo again, but I won't officially sign up and won't be publishing every poem here. It's not because of my worrying about the 'previously published' stigma if I post a poem here then submit it to a journal.

No, this is more about using this challenge (to write a poem every day this month) to grow as a poet, to experiment, to free myself and be bold. I'm not sure I can even approach freedom & boldness if I'm thinking about an audience at that delicate stage in my poetry process, that stage when a poem is newly born and just opening its eyes, taking first breath.

That said, I won't start NaPoWriMo without posting a  poem at all. So here's what I'm working on today. Seems a bit like notes for how I want to proceed this month.

once i dreamed my skin was peeling
in long strips - delicate, translucent -

and i carefully saved each one
intending to make something with them.

when i woke i knew it was about

how every day i wake up new
and tender

how the currency of my old life
is spent on art

how i will spend my whole life
                             ----Zann Carter (2012)


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