Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Literary Week

Remember about going to the poetry reading with my sister-in-law?  We went to An Evening of Poetry, Music, and Delectable Delights in Jeffersonville, VT, at the foot of Mt Mansfield and the Smugglers' notch Ski area.  This event was one of several put on by Sundog Poetry.

The following Tuesday, I attended a reading at the Essex Free Library with a friend:  Authors of Please Do Not Remove: A Collection Celebrating Vermont Literature and Libraries.  The collection was inspired by a stack of old library cards--the kind with names of the borrowers on them, from the days before computers and privacy concerns.  The editor, Angela Palm, bought the cards on e-bay.

(You really can buy all kinds of things on e-bay, but who knew inspiration was one of them?)

Then on Thursday, I went to the beautiful Shelburne Farms for a book launching:
Water Journeys in Art and Poetry-- ART by a Jericho artist, Dianne Shullenberger, and Poems by Jericho poet,  Mary Jane Dickerson,  AND--Nothing Saved Us: Poems of the Korean War by Tamra Higgins.

(This does not even count my volunteer hours at the library!)

Finally, on Saturday, I drove to Middlebury for the fall poetry workshop of the Poetry Society of Vermont with David Weinstock giving the critiques.  I had submitted a poem.

A Game of Scrabble, Anyone?

I used to play Scrabble, though I haven't for years--
smooth ash tiles lined up, seven in a row,
letters waiting for words to link them
criss-cross on a fold-out board
set on the floor in front of a fire
with pillows and glasses of wine.

Then others started to decline, voice vague fears--
 "She reads too many egg head books."
"She knows words that I don't know."
And I, knowing what they did not,
went along with Trivial Pursuits.
But I wonder why they didn't see?

No advantage here.  I wasn't good at Scrabble.
Words didn't scare me, but numbers did.
I saw "yodeler" and "proxy" on my rack 
as letters danced, changed partners.  
The world of words took me in  
and held me in an illusive now.

Strategy and planning? Too hard for me to handle.
Triple word score?  A meaningless concept. 
Scope out  evolving patterns?  Not for me.
I see a word, I  play it; I lay it down.
 I saw the words not critical spaces.

Scoring  takes awareness of the future.

I was hoping for some feedback, but this is all I got:

"I'm exactly this kind of Scrabble player.  My words are lush, my score is lousy.  When i play on line, I lose 89% of my games.

"I don't like the second stanza, and honestly I doubt that anybody said those things out loud, "Egghead?"  Yeah, some people prefer Trivial Pursuits, it's not because they don't love you, it's because they watch TV while you read books!"

So I am free to discuss further by e-mail or phone, but I won't bother I think.
However, if you have a helpful suggestion, let me know.

Seriously, you think no one has ever referred to me as an egghead?  That cracks me up!

(oof, I know!)


  1. Maybe the critic would prefer this as the second stanza: "you think no one has ever referred to me as an egghead? That cracks me up!" (I think maybe he had egg on his face.) You're brave to be critiqued in public. When I was in college (a very long time ago), a painting of mine was harshly critiqued, and I haven't lifted a brush since. I think I was too young and too lacking in confidence for that kind of criticism.

    1. I was a middle school teacher--lots of practice with receiving criticism!

  2. At least you ventured. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I wish I had been called and egghead.

  3. I got notice of a web attack being blocked :"Sweet Orange Exploit Kit" when sending my comment above. I thought it was the blog I just visited, but guess it was yours!!

  4. Very clever! And regardless, I still think you'd beat me at a game of scrabble.

  5. I used to play Scrabble with hubby but not anymore. I still have a set on a shelf, so I might dust it off someday. The poem is well written and amusing.

  6. I have played scrabble for most of my life mostly for the amusement and interaction with family. In the process I learned new words and to spell. I can't tell you how many games I won or lost... It did not matter because I was having fun.

  7. Personally, I loved the poem! I loved Scrabble, too, but only my "egghead" son would play with me. Trivial Pursuit was another game I loved, but again, no one wanted to play with me. Was I an egghead? You bet your sunnyside up I was! Glad that the critiques rolled off your back -- it's difficult hearing comments about our work!

    1. I am willing to take out the "egghead" part, but I did not think the feedback was helpful. I am sure you understand my comment about being a middle school teacher for 33 years adequate preparation for for the firing line.

  8. I think you poem is great, but I have never been called an egg head, a lot of things spelled with four letters, but not egg take my comments with a grain of salt.

    Busy week!

  9. Kudos for having the courage to submit a poem for critic. Is there something wrong with being an egghead?

  10. I think we tend to personalize what we read, so the comments rather than a critical eye are not entirely unexpected.

    I really the imagery in the poem, especially the letters dancing and shifting into new words. Isn't that a little like our lives? Small changes create new paradigms - and just as you suggested requires an awareness of the future.


I appreciate readers' comments so much. You don't even always have to agree with me.