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‘Frog Studies’ by Jane Broadwater Larew
As I pack up to finish The Wild Word’s Artist in Residency, with the theme of ALL FOR ONE, I’d like leave behind some questions about the wonders of poetry as a farewell.
But before the questions…This week’s posting features the artwork of my older sister, Jane Broadwater Larew. I’m biased, of course, but I’ve always enjoyed Jane’s joyous use of color and motion on her canvases, and am grateful to The Wild Word for showcasing some of her paintings/drawings. More info about her fine gallery of work is at janebroadwaterlarew.com.
The more I learn about poetry (and myself), the more jumbly the questions become. Here are just a few of the messier ones. What is your poetry? Never having been formally trained in the poetic arts, I’m always envious of those who have studied and read widely and, as a result, are able to assess or summarize, and observe or analyze the flight of a poem. I’m awed by anyone who can look up from a poem to describe its airborne magic. Instead, poems speak to the mystery, the unknown, the “not me” part of me. The poems that I love unconditionally are nearly total strangers in fog. But here’s the thing—they are also my truest of soul mates; I’d sacrifice just about anything for what they say by not saying, and how they say it. Said simply, poetry is my shadow.
So, from that vantage, I wonder about how poems grab. How do they reach out from the page and, as a friend recently pointed out, spark reactions before logic has a chance to kick in? Are poetry’s primals nearly religious in sway? Coming back down to Earth—how are ingredients such as surprise and strangeness or clarity and logic used to best effect in poetry? And, gosh, how can we best enjoy or at least respect the changes in temper, timbre, and tone that happen over the years as we continue to write poems?
On the current social front, there are surely questions of stovepipes, crosswalks and generally, inter-zones. Does, for example, the poetry of one generation, one culture, one gender, one life experience speak to—and can it be enriched by shoulder rubbing with—another? And does this new e-world of poetry shake down or build up walls?
Lastly, there’s the questions of evers. What makes for a poetry legacy? Will any of our lines be carved into granite? Which poems will jump into the future? Does the crammed crowdful of past and present poetry leave any space in the canon for new entrants?
As favorite teachers always say, there are no right or wrong answers. But, there are powerful reasons to ask why and how. So my ALL FOR ONE wish is that you always wonder—and wander—with poetry alongside.
If I unteach my kiss or unwake my morning
And star the days that rise beyond
If I reach back to where the newness lives
And firsts flowed by
If I undo my done-ings
And near the point of dreaming
Get there and then come back to now
With any gathered loops or straw long gone
If I but ever.
If I return to us
And unteach my kiss or untime my shirt
Or unhum arrows
If I begin again all over
If I act like onions do in Autumn
And love surprise as if it plunked the surface
If I unteach my lips to dwell
And if all that or more becomes my taken for granted
If I unteach my kiss
If I unlearn my every now of you
This poem first appeared in Poets & Artists.
I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about because
You’re all future
And I’m nearly dust.
You’re the weather that’s coming
And I’m back down the lane –
As if never-lasting or sparrows or gnats.
I’m wondering who will be beyonding and who will come back
Who is better who is flat
Who grabs hold of or who reaches out
Who is clearer but who is sprout
Who gets candy and who finds out?
MY PIPING HEART
You will surely fly beyond me.
And as my age-wild landscape begins to fold
Into autumn’s full
Where forever hoots and my bonfires wander –
I’ll stay here in turned to.
Much of me time-scatters like leaves divinely.
And yes, how my wish-I-was-young suddenly sings.
Tell me again –
When will I be you beside me
You’re all of what was and will be –
Those full rounding edges,
These knees of my journey,
Such curlier rhymes.
What I am saying is that
You promise such onward
On wind or piping.
In your glance is the new motion of moons –
Remind me before I do
That I’m all of your off-handing.
And then but so –
Know my my of my wanting
That when you yourself turn some day also
You too will be barning like I am now –
Spying from loft beams
Longing down on harvests and scants
Asking how who became who
As I chance do
No one is better
Than the fence is ahead
That is only there because of rain –
The fence that opens onto long ago Springs remembered
Bending now with dripping buds
With all cupped sounds
From as far away as can be held –
No one is ever better
No one is dearer
Than yellows are in green
That you believe are warmer for the chill
That you discover in the smell of clouds
Or that you can trust as much as ever will
And that you love like gates of newborn grass –
No one is dearer
No one is ever closer
Than knowing this is home –
Feeling that you will be here after all –
A hillside –
And that to come this near for now
Is somehow as important as early evenings May –
No one comes closer.
This poem first appeared in Lummox 4.
For just a split second the other day
The illness that will one day kill me
Came out looked around and laughed
Then just as quickly
Went back inside to where it came from –
I know who I love do you
I know what’s rough or smooth
And how less fights more
(Think of ice at night)
I know that anything worthwhile depends
So here’s a wish once again –
May the boats of such discoveries
Allow friends to swim alongside
May my wasted time redeem itself
By a doubling of the vines hanging down
And may at least one among all my stories
Get covered in sand.
This poem first appeared in Broadkill Review.
Jane Broadwater Larew has held artist residencies at Millay Colony, New York, USA; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Virginia, USA; Oberpfalzer Kunstlerhaus, Germany; and, Klenova Castle, Czech Republic. She lives and works in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA and Schwandorf, Germany.
ARTIST STATEMENT – JANE BROADWATER LAREW
As you can see, I do several different kinds of work. Like different kinds of music, some are more classical and some are more improvisational. Sometimes I like to spend a few hours outdoors drawing something in nature that catches my eye—a seed, a shell, an insect—just with pencil on paper, as carefully observed as I can. Sometimes I take my paint and a small canvas and ride my bicycle to a landscape or river view that I’m curious about. Sometimes it’s all about the richness of color, jaunty rhythms, and juxtaposition of shapes, and may be inspired by a poem, a song, an afternoon with a friend drinking tea, or walking across a field.
Hiram Larew is in wicked love with poetry. His work has appeared in journals and collections, most recently, Amsterdam Quarterly, vox poetica, Honest Ulsterman, Little Patuxent Review, FORTH, Viator and Every Day Poems. Nominated for four Pushcarts, he organizes poetry events, activities and conclaves that showcase wide poetic diversity and insights. A global food security specialist by training, he lives in Maryland, USA. See his page on Facebook.