Elizabeth Garber - Two Memoirs

Would you sign on for a year at sea? At seventeen? What if you were sent there, to get rid of you for a while? That’s what happened to Elizabeth Garber when their father sent her and her younger brother off to a year at sea aboard the four-masted square-rigger called the Antarna. It was a school called the Oceanics, and there was lots of learning that took place, but it wasn’t as much an academic experience as it was multiple life experiences including working to get the run-down vessel ready to sail. Garber was unsettled and tells us in her memoir Sailing at the Edge of Disaster: A Memoir of a Young Woman’s Daring  Year, “ But as I calmed down, I was still glad that I’d come. I couldn’t wait to write about it.” We’re glad she did. Sailing at the Edge of Disaster: A Memoir of a Young Woman’s Daring Year releases in September 2022, but to get started you can enjoy her previous memoir Implosion: A Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter to gain insight to the year she faced in 1971-1972.

As a Swan

  As a Swan Unlike the heron, landing quietly, slipping into the weeds, setting the example of minding our own business, swans can sound like gunfire when they come in for a landing, can take a real man’s arm off, but, once landed, flow into view as if their graceful swimming weren’t akin to strutting, as if something so lovely couldn’t be so mean. They mate for life, swans do, although I wonder is it her choice or is she stuck with the partner that (apparently) protects her?   Nothing wrong with being an ugly duckling, if that duck is free from a man behaving as a swan — lovely to look at but also loud and dangerous, only seemingly protective.    This poem and picture were recently included in the wArts: Merrimac Mike Anthology VII. 

Make Your Own Adventure

And now it comes to this . . .  We are at the final day of National Poetry Month 2022. Thank you to all who stuck with me -- writing poems, trying to write poems, reading the blog posts, and especially those who read at our monthly poetry reading on Zoom. New Jersey, New York. and New England were all represented. Going forward from the end of the month to the beginning of new writing, the next challenge is to make your own poetry, including your own poetic forms. You can actually invent a form or tweak a form. I was once teaching a weekend workshop at a retreat center and there wasn’t a lot of time to write so I came up with the “villanellie”. It’s a shorter version of the villanelle and kind of named after myself, but that part is just coincidence. The villanellie is a villanelle with three tercets instead of five. That gave the participants the opportunity to have a completed work in less time. A mentor once assigned a prompt that was something like “write a poem in twelve sen

Light Verse

As we come to the end of the month we have reached our final Fun Friday for this project. Previously we looked at the clerihew and the limerick, but today we are doing light verse overall. It’s a varied and rich side of poetry. Yesterday I said when writing an ode, to keep it lofty. Today I’m saying come down from that. Go forth and write; keep it light. Even stuffy ol’ me has a few poems that are at least almost funny. Here’s one: High Minded Shoes The goddess within me rose up.                               The feminine came forward to say, “Go forth. Buy yourself something to demonstrate your strength, your versatility. Adorn yourself as the practical, competent woman you are. My wise woman archetype blossomed. My crone aspect made it possible and now — I have new Crocs. There is even a contest for light verse. It’s free to enter and the submission period opens on August 1. The poem above has lost this very contest. Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (no fee) - Winning Writers   The


The ode is a poem, if not a song, of praise. It’s usually not in a form such as a sestina or villanelle, but will often be blank verse with iambic pentameter and end rhymes. The Greek poet Pindar is credited with writing the first odes, according to Padgett in the Handbook of Poetic Forms . Although Pindar's were intricate, like so many things, the form has “lightened up” over the centuries until now when the most important point is praise. While the ode does remain a poem of praise, that praise can be delivered in many ways. Odes often have a lofty air about them such as the early English odes written by Ben Johnson including “To the Immortal Memory and Friendship of That Noble Pair, Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morison”. Although this mimics the early Pindar structure, it is also an update of the form. It is written in praise of a life well lived, even if brief. Here is some commentary on this ode followed by the poem itself. Ben Jonson – “The Ode on Cary and Morison” – Reading T

Prose Poem

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a lyric essay! It’s a poem! A prose poem is written with all the poetic considerations of metaphor, terseness, and beauty of a poem, but without line breaks, rhyme, or repetitive structure. What’s the difference between a lyric essay and a prose poem? I don’t know. The question reminds me of people saying a tomato is a vegetable or a tomato is a fruit. Does it really matter? I think people who write essays call the form a lyric essay and people who write poems call them prose poems. Or vice versa. People who write essays might say they write poems, too, but only prose poems. To be either, the work is usually short, distinctly concise, and insightful in some way. It’s not a long expository essay and it’s not a long epic poem. The French poet Aloysius Bertrand is credited with the first book of prose poems Gaspard of the Night, 1836. He was followed by Baudelaire and Rimbaud. The form has had a resurgence of late. If you want to write one, don’t worry


Here is another one that, like the occasional poem, is named more for its content than structure. While it’s likely to be read at a memorial service or after the death of a loved one or popular figure, anyone or anything could be memorialized. A pet? A lost crop? Democracy? The point is to acknowledge the loss, so the elegy is almost always serious, unless it is deliberately satirical. Elegy for Jane     Theodore Roethke             (My student, thrown by a horse) I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils; And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile; And how, once started into talk, the light syllables leaped for her. And she balanced in the delight of her thought, A wren, happy, tail into the wind, Her song trembling the twigs and small branches. The shade sang with her; The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing, And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose.   Oh, when she was sad, she cast herself down into such a pure depth, E