Tag Archives: poetry of Carol Bachofner

Bachofner on THE BOYFRIEND PROJECT

I’ve asked Maine poet Carol Bachofner to guest blog on here in the past. Since this is a big year for her, I’ve asked her to write again for this blog. My prediction: you are going to want to order The Boyfriend Project right away.

by Guest Blogger Carol Bachofner

2017 proved to be a year of productivity for me as a poet, with two manuscripts finished and both scheduled for publication. It was a hard year. The process for writing the two books was very different in terms of style, approach, and form. The work of moving back and forth between the two projects was a challenge to say the least, not only in the writing but also in the editing, revising process.

The finished products are very different too. One is somewhat typical, poems largely in free verse with shapes and setups that look like what we think of when we imagine poetry, other than the occasional prose poem. The other, Test Pattern, a fantod of prose poems is a breakout in terms of style. The poems do not look act much like typical poetry, more like little bits of fanciful, dystopic prose.

For now, I begin with book #1, The Boyfriend Project (Such a Girl Press, 2017).

 

The Boyfriend Project

In 2007, having moved back to my home state, I heard from high school classmates that a boy I dated in high school was dying of lung cancer. He wanted to see me. I spoke with his wife and she urged me to visit. The visit was wonderful and poignant. We admitted that what we experienced as love when we were teens had prepared us for the love we’d both found as adults. We laughed and joked and shared our memories of kisses, his unauthorized visits to my babysitting job, and how we saw each other then. We shared a kiss on his porch, a goodbye kiss.  As I drove away, I could see him in the rear view mirror and knew at that moment this would be the last time. He died two weeks later.

I began thinking of the other “boyfriends” I had known (including crushes) and wondered what had become of them. This was punctuated by reading an article online about a war memorial in the town where my high school sweetheart had lived. His name was on the memorial.  I was filled with dread that he might be deceased. I wanted to know. I did an internet search and found a business listed under his name. I called and left a message: “hey there, this is me, if this is you, please call.” He called within the hour. He was alive and well in a nearby state, married with two nearly-grown daughters. I called. It was such a relief to hear his voice again, a voice which sounded exactly like it did the last time I spoke with him. We decided to meet for lunch. We enjoyed five hours of wonderful conversation, glad to be connected as friends after 45 years of each wondering about the other.  He apologized to me for breaking up with me on the telephone on Valentine’s Day. I teased him by “breaking up” with him in a phone conversation the year following.

Break, Break, Break

Valentine’s Day 1965,

a break in his voice, a zip

of energy I feel through the phone:

          I love you. I miss you.

          We should date other people.

45 years now, married to those other people,

we break up over and over, just for fun.

 

My meetings with these two former boyfriends gave birth to the book, a look at girlfriends and their boyfriends. I saw the project as a possible chapbook with funny or tender poems about boys I’d known and “loved.” What I did not expect was that the project would end up a full-length manuscript or that it would morph into looking at boyfriend stories of other women who were eager to tell me what those boys meant to them, and that I would end up looking at a timeline of relationships that spanned the innocent crush to the crushing and sometimes cruel. The book project raised its hand and demanded I take it more seriously.

When I began discussing the project with others, hearing stories about them and their boyfriends, I realized that my singular perspective was a little narrow and artificial. After all, it’s not about me. It’s about this universal thing called love, whatever that means. I wanted more. I wanted to give my readers more. Shortly thereafter I also began to realize that sweet glittery hearts and cupids was not all that needed to be covered here. Everyone who talked to me about their boyfriends had one who was cruel or unkind, even dangerous. What about those? Again, the project raised its hand and demanded to be a part of this. The project had a new idea of itself and I had to accept that.

Always in love is how I would describe my life. I love the idea of love, the rush of new love, the comfort of long-lived love. My father called me boy-crazy on more than one occasion. So the poems I set out to write was partially focused on resurrecting the many boys who’d come into my life, however briefly or in a more substation time frame. I had to start with my ride on the Kindergarten Bus. At age five, I was in love with two little boys whose names I cannot recall. What I do recall is the ride home from school. I wind the clock backward and write in the present tense. This is a technique I recommend to make a poem that happened in the long-ago seem more like something in the now. Of course the poem had to anchor the manuscript. I share it here in its entirety since it is a short one:

 

Kindergarten Bus  c. 1952

Boys

 

little men without a clue

want to hold hands with me —

I let them.

One tries to kiss me.

 

Two, who by high school

would not have shared me,

hold my hand in turn.

Their faces shine

with something like love.

 

Last off the kindergarten bus,

I am a kiss stolen by the boy

whose house is 3 blocks away,

who walks by my house on Saturdays,

wishes school was 6 days.

 

This poem is soft and funny and sweet. Sweetness deserved the entre to the book. I knew pretty quickly that the arc of the poems would move from this childlike sweetness to the teen years, fraught with frustration and fumbling attempts at love and relationship. Isn’t that the way the teen years work anyway?  The teen stories I was able to access showcase a range of experiences, not the least of which uncover a look at forbidden love and a bit of risk. The following poem, a story shared by a woman friend, illustrates this.

 

Church Boy, Town Girl

At the edge of town,

behind the Baptist Church,

behind the church bus, they smoke, inhale

unfiltered Camels. Church boy

wearing Jesus Saves tee, town girl

in a yellow sun dress. He presses her hard

for a kiss; she blows smoke circles

with her eyes closed. She knows what’s next,

like her mama told. Watch out for them

churchy boys, they’s the devil. They take

what they wants and lets you go.

Still as a broken clock, she waits.

Inside the church, singing:

and the walls came a-tumbling down.

 

 One of the problems with writing about love, and writing about the less beautiful side of love, is doing it without getting too personally involved (as the writer). Huh? you are probably saying, isn’t “love” a most personal thing after all? How does one write about love from the outside, looking in and still get across the feeling of love in all its facets?

The answer, for me, has always been to write somewhat obliquely. In other words, don’t think everything needs to be told. Find those details which will tell it. Let the truth of the situation emerge on its own, which will happen with some diligence on the part of the writer.

Look at what this poem does and what it does not. We can see the girl and boy from the elements of setting: where are they? at the edge  and behind the Baptist Church.

What are they wearing? He is wearing a Jesus saves tee; she is wearing yellow sun dress. Who is this girl? A Town Girl. She is no church girl. This suggests also that she is out of her normal setting. He, by virtue of what he is wearing is in his normal setting, but maybe not by his own choice. As reader, you get to decide by way of the details. You have become the omniscient observer.

It is easy to discover the set up and the problem from these small aspects of setting. All writers should consider setting when writing and revising, poets included. Setting details place the action of the poem in a space that matters to that action.

Look now at what is happening, the action of the poem. The boy and girl are engaged in doing some things likely forbidden by the church, smoking and making out. The setting (behind the church) suggests this. They are unfiltered  as the cigarettes they smoke,; they are not concerned about what’s right or wrong. She has her eyes closed. He is pressing her. Running through her head, is her mother’s warning about boys, especially them churchy boys. The use of this internal warning provides another layer of the girl’s dilemma. In the final line, we know the outcome from the song they (and we) hear… and the walls came a-tumbling down. Readers know what is probably next.

This is oblique writing. Oblique writing is not at all vague. It is about telling what needs to be told in such a way as to let the reader experience what the people of the poem are doing or feeling. Oblique writing is an embodiment. You are the girl. You’re not simply told about the girl. This attention to detail let’s you be part of the girl’s story without intruding. I am grateful to “Donna” for sharing her story. I hope my poem honors her.

As the manuscript began to take shape, I realized that it would be good to include a few poems about the sadness and rejection that sometimes accompany love. We’ve all been there through bitter breakups, divorces, even illness. What does love ended or altered look like for the dumped, the thumped, the sorrowful who are out of love? Again, women stepped up and shared. I already had my own stories to render into poems. There was no end to the dearth of material. I decided to fill the middle of the manuscript with the sadder side of love. There were so many stories, I wondered if I’d ever be finished telling them.

One thing I learned from talking to women is that love is elastic. We can come back after a fall. More importantly, we are the sum of our loves. It doesn’t subtract from us. We are also part of the equation for one another in coping. We are part of a community of lovers. When one of us is suffering, the rest of us can make a difference.

Thanks to Jean and her story, I was able to show that. In my poem, After Your Divorce, I explore how empathy might work, how there is a support we might offer in time of lost love (for whatever reason; this is about loss via divorce).

There is a you, a she, and an I in the poem, never named. These do not need to be named because the poem is about all of us, and about how we sometimes miss the opportunity for being the help that is needed. In a sense, the poem is an apology. It is also an acknowledgement that love problems know no gender. The you might be a man, might be a woman. We don’t know and we don’t need to know. What we do know is that  the I has missed an opportunity for empathy.

 

After Your Divorce

                   I asked you to read my poems

 

I wrote table and forced you out

into the woods to choose a tree,

maple, oak, or maybe an exotic teak.

You had to decide the shape too,

round or rectangular or oval. I wrote

a cobalt bowl filled with orange day lilies

and a white coffee mug, rim smudged

with Dior’s Infra Rose. I might have

written an apple on an ivory table runner

from Brazil, but I wrote a half-eaten

nectarine set on a white paper towel the way

she did to keep from messing up a plate

for just one item. I knew about your divorce

and yet I wrote table, leaving so much

for you to do. I should have written door.

 

The poem relies upon the details to show the situation of the you as well as the response and final empathetic gesture of the narrator. Notice again the setting and the details within. These amplify the situation as well as show the lost relationship. We see how the lost person was in the relationship. We see her details in the specific lipstick she wore, how she used a paper towel for her snack. We can see her. We can feel her. Not only that, but the you has become a sympathetic person to us.

The speaker of the poem, the I, has gained empathy by poem’s end. We feel satisfied with the character. The sadness is not gone, but we are heartened that empathy has come.

What of the fact that some people would do anything for love? Some maybe want to avoid bad love by extraordinary means. I included a quirky prose poem in the book that tells how that might go. Even in light of the somewhat odd connections made between the speaker of the poem and the fortuneteller, it is details and setting which hold up the ideas of the poem. The speaker desperately wants to know about, be warned about bad lovers. The epigraph by Maggie Smith describes lovers as confetti. The speaker knows already that confetti is unpredictable. Still, she is crazy to find out what can be predicted. If only she could pay what is asked.  I hope the poem leaves readers asking what would I do for love or to avoid a bad lover?

 

Bad Lover Juju

                   Everyone you loved was scattered confetti

                                    — Maggie Smith

 

Some of it (them) green, some yellow, some a garish orange. One was your favorite purple, the kind with blue-red in it. No matter. They weren’t your type of lover. Not that they cared. Not that you knew that back then. Disposable was what they thought when the lights were out and you had gone home. All eventually floated away on the backs of birds of prey, leaving you bitten. Shiny feathers fell on your head, on your shoulders as they went. You visit the woman whose talent is seeing lover juju. You want a new lover, someone not confetti. She asks for beads of glass, blackberry ice cream as payment. You’ve brought vanilla ice cream — all you have. Bad juju she says, licking the bowl and stringing a noose from the beads. You want to hear the name of a lover who could save you. More beads, more ice cream. The woman falls asleep with her hands on the noose she’d made. She begins to look like your mother, your grandmother. Bad juju you think, backing slowly from her chair. Bad juju she dreams, saying aloud the names of every bad lover. You dial the ice cream parlor down the street. They’re completely sold out of blackberry. They tell you there’s been a run on that lately. Bad juju.

 

Still, even in light of the somewhat odd connections made between the speaker of the poem and the fortuneteller, it is all about details and setting holding up the ideas of the poem. The speaker desperately wants to know about, be warned about bad lovers. The epigraph by Maggie Smith describes lovers as confetti. The speaker knows already that confetti is unpredictable. Still, she is crazy to find out what can be predicted. If only she could pay what is asked.

I decided, after the rather tragic or lonely poems in the second part of the book, to end with my own stories of great love, my last love. I want to leave the reader with a sense that sometimes, if we are lucky enough, love can be mature and enduring. One of the poems comes from a time when I needed an unselfish love, needed a supportive love. From a time when love may well have been all there would be for me. This poem is from my grownup story of love.

I chose to write this poem in my own voice. I am the speaker and I am the receiver of the love. Poets are often told to avoid “confessional” poems as they leave out the reader. But facing probable death in a poem willingly breaks that open. As in the discussion previously, we all could use a little empathy. Who would not be drawn to the relationship in this poem, feel a sense of empathy toward both the speaker and her lover? Need and gift. It is because of great love that the need may be expressed and the gift given. Look at the details. See the love at work in those details.

Calling You

I call to you, whimpering in the night

where we once cried out in lovemaking.

I call and you lift me up for my medicine

or a trip to the bathroom.  I am not yours

as I once was yours; I have become your task.

 

Your burden, wrought in love and devoted

service to that love is the meal we have set

before us.  We dine together, you sip wine

as I nudge soda crackers along my dusty palate.

We eat in bed and talk of other times, times lost.

 

I call you the little pet name I made up in jest

when you danced naked with a hat on your penis;

You laugh, call me “pretty lady” despite my gray

flat skin.  Your hands run my slackened frame;

still I am beautiful to you. All angles and bony

points of interest, still I am your passion.

 

Your face shines, avoiding pain and distress

over my possible outcome.  The doctors face me

with treatments which blush up in high fevers,

but you are cool. You collect my favorite things

near the bed to distract me from all suffering.

 

I call out to you in the night when I think “this is it”

and you roll to one side, spooning my weak body

with your strong one. I feel your current seep in

and get enough juice to make it to morning.  I call

and you bring me whatever I need.  I need everything.

 

The final poem is Polaris, a short poem to my husband. A poem that says so much about how love blends us one into the other. The poem encompasses that relationship which has evolved over many years, over many constellations of love have burned themselves into something eternal. I always end my public readings with this poem. It delights both of us when he is present. When I read the poem, I feel my palm pressed together with my husband’s. I can taste the starlight on my tongue.

 

Polaris

       for Bill

 

On our January porch, hands

open to star shine, we are pierced

by Polaris. It’s a stigmata I feel

as my right palm presses

your right palm, fingers laced.

It’s a burning, a covenant. Later

in our bedroom, some shine

on your shoulder where I touch

as you drift into your own night

sky. We have been pierced

by star points, filled with light.

We sail on it, I your compass, true

North, and you my lantern

and flame, tower and beam.

 

Carol Willette Bachofner, poet, watercolorist, and photographer, has published five books of poetry, most recently The Boyfriend Project (2017) and Native Moons, Native Days (2012). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including, Dawnland Voices, an Anthology of Writings from Indigenous New England (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). She won the Maine Postmark Contest 2017 for her poem, Passagassawaukeag, which is published in The Maine Review. Her photo, Rigged, received Honorable Mention in the Spirit of Place contest by Maine Media workshop and is printed in the contest anthology. She served as Poet Laureate of Rockland Maine from 2012-2016.  Visit her web site at www.carolbachofner.com

Watch for Carol’s second post about her new books. She will write about Test Pattern, a book I was thrilled to write a blurb for. To purchase The Boyfriend Project click through the book cover art to Carol’s website and you can order the book.

 

 

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Break Out, Go Ahead and Do It: Part II

Last week I introduced you to indigenous poet Carol Bachofner. She has published four excellent books of poetry. Check out her poetry! Part I can be found here.

In Part II, learn Carol’s original process for writing “something else” sonnets. Don’t know what those are? Read ahead . . . .

by guest blogger, poet Carol Bachofner

A poem Carol wrote that illustrates the breaking out she discusses

 Why Hang Out in Bookstores; a something else sonnet

There are other ways to take on the sonnet form and make it serve a different purpose. I recently had another breakthrough, courtesy of an unwitting Sherman Alexie. Visiting our daughter and her family in Seattle, I had one non-family wish of the trip: to spend some quantity and quality time at Elliott Bay Books, alone. I always make a beeline to the poetry section of any bookstore to see what’s new that I might not have seen at home. I found two books that really got my attention, my sustained attention. The first book is The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (ed. Gary L. McDowell and F. Daniel Rzicznek, 2010) and the other is Alexie’s latest poetry collection, What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned (Hanging Loose Press, 2014). These book finds changed my view of prose poetry. Utterly changed. DRAT!!! Just when I was getting comfortable again! But it is why we hang out in bookstores, to be changed.

I confess that previously I have eschewed prose poetry, claiming loudly to all who would listen that this alleged form is nonexistent. Why do I do that? My literary protestations almost always lead to changing my mind about what I am avoiding or rejecting. On this particular lovely fall day in Seattle I was to be challenged yet again. I would have to face the fact that this form is real, to accept the fact that if Sherman Alexie was writing in this so-called “form,” I would have to see why. I was, from that moment, on the fast track to writing one or more prose poems myself. How could this happen? Prose was always prose and poetry always poetry. I was SURE of that. Until now. As a narrative writer, I knew I was always straddling the two worlds, but I knew somehow where the borders were. and I did not think those borders were crossable.

Where the breakthrough came for me was somewhere in the middle of Alexie’s book, the place where he starting labeling poems as “sonnet” when they clearly looked like prose to me. Have you ever become aware of a slight manic buzzing in your head when you are about to discover something new for yourself, ready to disembark from the safe ship of your life and wobble on the dock? I could feel myself getting hot all over, hearing the buzz, and feeling a twitch in my left eye. Uh-oh.

I tried to find where in his “sonnets” there was something sonnet. What I found was a “something else sonnet,” a combination of prose and poetry that spoke to me. Loudly. Profoundly. He was laying it out in a way that seemed properly improper. No worries over rhyme scheme (have you ever balked at the use of “scheme” as if it is some kind of a trick?) and no worries about where to break a line or where to put the turn or whether to put a turn at all. Instead of 14 clearly defined lines, he dared to make 14 segments of thought, of wondering, of action. Yes, 14 segments that said something without restriction. Oh my. Oh dear. Oh my. I had to try this.

Suddenly I was writing prose that felt more like poetry to me than anything I’d written in a while. Suddenly I was writing poetry that seemed more real, more honest. I was wobbling on the dock and dying to jump off and swim.

Then the inevitable questions for myself began flooding in. What was going to be MY take on this? How would I make something as real as Alexie, without being a poser, a fake, a phoney? It wouldn’t be easy to adapt my previous thinking to this new thing I’d so long rejected. But I knew I was comfortable with sonnets. I was comfortable with every aspect of sonnets. I was also very comfortable with narrative. So there. I had to jump.

At first I thought this meant I could just freewheel it, abandon all traditional aspects of the sonnet. But I had no desire to just throw myself into a sort of “freefall abyss.” I took a few deep breaths and began thinking of what parts of sonnets I might use to my purposes and how far into prose I wanted to venture. The more I pondered, the more one thought came to me: with the skills I possess as a poet, as a somewhat-formalist, I can combine prose and the sonnet, one of poetry’s most lasting forms and make something new for myself.

As I waded out into the deeper waters of form deconstruction, I felt a bit like an inventor. The process I devised is a basic guideline, a first way in. I chose to meld prose and the sonnet form in a way that was different but felt at least a little familiar. I needed my own process to serve as an entrance. Here is my initial process, one I have now abandoned as I continue to grow comfortable with this new “something else sonnet” form.

A Process Toward Writing a “Something Else Sonnet”

1. I decided to go by way of strong words, nouns and verbs. I elected to choose 14 nouns that are somewhat thematically connected. The words I chose are all words of restriction and stoppage and alienation. My theme (loose) is that of being held back or cordoned off from love. You will see my words in bold in the example below.

2. I set off in a direction, toward a theme or idea. I figured I could always reset my direction if the initial attempt was a wild goose chase. I did reset a couple times, but did not fully abandon the original impetus or word list.

3. I chose to follow Alexie in numbering each section (and in using sections or fragments rather than anything approaching lineation. After all, this was PROSE poetry. Beginning with the number 1, using what I determined to be the “best” word from my list of words, I created the first section/fragment.

4. At the place in that first bit of thought where my mind felt a bit like jumping, I put a period and wrote the number 2. After that I let myself leap (free association is the thing here) and used another word from the list. I found it helpful to cross off each word used to make sure I used all fourteen.

5. Repeating this process, paying no attention at all to where numbers landed, I wrote the whole poem as a paragraph with parts. Remember that any numbered portion may contain more than one sentence or fragment. It may be a bit self-contained with one major leap or it may slide into a transition as the piece nears its end, making the next leap smoother.

6. I also began to consider that I might keep going after number 14 and run the poem onward a bit, ending with a rhymed couplet; I did do this in the example below. I wondered as I wrote whether the poem wanted a somewhat traditional volta and where. In the example below, I came to see that the poem wanted to pivot a bit at line./section 9, a pretty traditional thing for a nontraditional sonnet.

NOTE: In the following example, I have bolded the nouns from my word list; these do not remain bolded outside of this example.

Love is Monstrous(ly) Wonderful(ly) Bordered, a prose sonnet

1. Natural barriers could be the colors of love, red lips shine, bruise-blue or some psychedelic bursts of argument hues at the edge of love’s known world. 2. Sterile areas pop up like rabbits. You want to go there to be safe, to be gravid with love. 3. Ditches burrow themselves into sidewalks where lovers pace, submerge to begin their travel along wrist-like veins recently scissored open in desperation. 4. You can achieve closure that way. Real closure. The slamming of the garden gate on too-rusted hinges made furious by rain. The door-bang of a car, locking itself with the keys still in the ignition. You learn how to leave and how to stay. 5. Love opens and closes on everyone eventually, even if no one hears it happening. Love maintains its elastic geography this way. 6. You cannot escape into a security zone to avoid it. 7. Even though you don’t recognize it, your heart is a sovereign state. 8. It has a seam-line of tissue paper tears. Rain will open up in it, open you eventually. 9. You’ll soon be seen at the checkpoint, tourist visa in your breast pocket, flashlight between your teeth. 10. You will head back to the colors of love and sketches you made of it at the blockade. It’s a secret. It is invincible ink. 11. Cruelty is the killing ground. 12. Vault over its borders. Ping between love and its doppelgänger. 13. Roadblock ahead! Drive. Run. 14. Decide to burn down the separation fence. 15. This is what you need to know about love and disaster, about a heart full of tacks. 16. Once you fill your suitcase, you get the monster off your back.

So, let’s review what has happened here that makes this a sonnet:

1. 14 somethings + couplet
2. volta at or near section 9. — of note: key words/phrases of the turn include checkpoint, head back
3. rhymed couplet at the end (though not metrical, it is musical)

We can see what makes this a sonnet and what makes this prose as well. The narrative is sacrosanct in the form, the combining of two forms. It is a hybrid that works well for me as a storyteller and poet. I owe it all to my obsession with hanging out in bookstores. Here is another example of story preserved as a brief prose poem, a sonnet that defies the usual end-rhymed final couplet. Find the turn, if any. Ask what makes this prose piece a sonnet.

Living On, a prose sonnet

1. From a waterfall 12 feet straight down, into 2 feet of water 2. Swept off like leaves ready to die. 3. Never thought about death then. Never thought about life then. All the same to me. 4. Carried to safety by a Paiute, slung sack on his back. Now a piece of him, he’s me too just that way; how I think of it. Carry me, I carry you. 5. The tee shirt he stripped from his back I wear as he wore me. American Indian Dance Theater. 6. I dance. I sway and stomp like the wind trees or the river that caught me. 7. Live on or die. 8. Be Indian. Be not Indian. You don’t get to decide. 9. If you break a bone, pray for all other bones. You will heal 4 people that way. 10. One of them will heal you. 11. The river didn’t want to feel so empty that day. 12. Wanted to fill itself with something that needed healing. 13. Indian Canyon ceremony, sweat running like the river. 14. Grandmothers and Grandfathers yielding to the fire. Me — natal, naked, and ready to live on.

From the Body, sonnets also shall emerge

Recently someone posted a meme on Facebook that was a pun in picture form, a line drawing of a human hip, with the caption: Hip Poetry. A child of the 60s, it tickled me to see this punning of the phrase Hip Poetry. Thinking of the beat poets, I wanted to do something creative in response to the meme, so I decided a contemporary prose sonnet to honor the beauty of the structure of the body, while keeping the humor of the drawing and its caption. I went with a beginning section that began the combination of bone and tone. I allowed myself to flex my verbal musculature and pun, rhyme a little (final couplet), and use marks of punctuation [brackets] wherever that felt organic, seemed to fit. I even included a line from a satire album from the 60s (see section 6). The pure pleasure I derived from creating this sonnet, this prose thing, is immeasurable. I hope you enjoy it too.

Poetry From the Hip, a prose sonnet

1. It’s a body thing, a guts and sinew and bone thing. No one comes to poetry without a body on fire. Flames of language consume the muscle, jerk the nerves, hum in the skull. 2. It’s the hip, that ball and socket controller, that swing along the sidewalk of metrics action, that bend at the, flex at the, sit right down and write it creation that lets it all roll along to conclusion or to an opening at the end. 3. Imagine no hip. No swishing skirts or petticoats, no rhumba or cha-cha-cha to inspire the words of love that pour onto the page, that plunge the poet into despair over loss of. Love pivots on such bones. Love poems pivot on them too. 4. Shoot from the [hip]. Be [hip]. [Hip] [Hip] hooray on the page or off into the air above the page. [Hip]ster, gangster, lover, mime, or magician. 5. [Hip] is your tour de force. 6. This is your hippy-dippy weather man, with the weather, Man 7. Whether or not. 8. Lines of poems hang from hip to hip, like bedsheets with secrets from old lovers. 9. Say lip [service or stick]. 10. Trip [up] or [the light fantastic]. 11. Ship [shape] or [out] and flip the switch to poems without secrets. 12. Secrets die like flies in winter when you turn on the lights. 13. It’s a body thing, a guts and sinew and bone thing. 14. Write it all, let it all, from the hip … swing.

Break Out… out there from here

Just as my last book, Native Moon, Native Days, was a departure from the regional, nature-oriented poems of the previous two collections, my newly-submitted manuscript is a departure. It is structure-oriented rather than topical, regional, or overtly ethnic. It contains an array of what seems to me to be like stardust, a sprinkle of light. Of course, the trick here is whether or not a publisher wants to spread my stardust. Regardless, I am happy to have assembled these particular poems in this way. Hands, These Clumsy Ears of Hands. Out there. Definitely out there.

About the guest blogger:

Carol W. Bachofner, MFA Poetry Vermont College of Fine Arts, is currently Poet Laureate of Rockland, Maine (2012-2016). She founded (2010) and directs the annual Poetry Month Rockand, a city-wide celebration of poetry. An indigenous woman (Abenaki), she writes with a strong sense of place through narrative poetry. Her poems have appeared in such notable journals as Prairie Schooner, CT Review, Main Street Rag, Bangor Metro, The Comstock Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cream City Review, Naugatuck River Review, and others. Bachofner teaches poetry in her community and “on the road” via workshops and conferences. She has four published books of poetry: Daughter of the Ardennes Forest, 2007; Breakfast at the Brass Compass, 2010; I Write in the Greenhouse, 2011, and Native Moons, Native Days, 2012. In 2011, Bachofner was a runner-up in the Maine Literary Awards, one of three finalists in the short works/poetry category. Visit her web site www.carolbachofner.com for links to her blog, and her facebook page or to contact her for workshops. or contact her by email at poet.laureate.rcklnd@me.com.

Carol Bachofner headshot

 

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