Today, I am delighted to welcome poet and author D. Avery. Ms Avery is the creator of the fun and well-known characters Kid and Pal who frequent Carrot Ranch Literary Community She also has her own blog where she shares her flash fiction, poetry and other literary endeavours. You can find her blog here: https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/.
At first I was thrilled to be asked to participate in Treasuring Poetry with Writing to be Read and Robbie Cheadle. Then I read the questions! Too hard! Actually, I misread the questions and was flustered enough to consider who my favorite poet might be, let alone poem.
Robbie’s questions led me down many a rabbit hole, but perhaps not so many as I might have if I were under the same roof as my collection of poetry books. I’m not, so I let my mind travel and recall those shelves and what I have read lately. Often times my favorite poet or poem is simply the one in front of me, so recently I have enjoyed Conrad Aiken and Mary Oliver. But a favorite poet?
Still mistakenly contemplating a poet as opposed to a poem, and still unable to name just one, I at least realize I tend to most admire traditional Japanese poetry as well as the work of Rumi and of Hafiz. I like a short poem that makes me say, “Ah!” or even “Awe…” then “Ha!” If I could peruse my shelves I’d give my favorite examples, probably from a book called Japanese Death Poems; either that or I’d be lost in re-reading that treasure. As it is, this assignment got me re-reading Hafiz’s The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, and from that I came to see that many of Mary Oliver’s poems are in that Sufi vein, poems that, like Hafiz, are conversational yet intimate, not just with the reader, but with the subject, God. Now there’s a rabbit hole. But closer to home and in some ways more comfortable for their hominess are the poems of Robert Frost. He too writes with the wit and wisdom, often with a quiet humor, that I admire in the Sufis. Here are two lines from the New England bard:
We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the secret sits in the middle and knows.
Robert Frost poems are accessible yet have subtleties and layers that can provide that ‘Ah ha’ that gives a poem staying power. As well as displaying an understanding of the spiritual aspects of his world Frost’s poems also reveal a keen observer’s eye for nature. There are many examples, and I never tire of reading Frost, but a favorite poem? I will not choose a favorite. But here are forty-eight syllables in eight lines, Nothing Gold Can Stay:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Some will say this poem is about impermanence and the fleeting nature of time. Leaves certainly change their hues in Frost’s New England, and he shows that he has observed this deeply, daily, for the emerging and unfolding leaves of spring and early summer cannot simply be called green, they are in fact shades of yellow and gold, and those might be preceded by cream and yellow flowers. Ah, he’s so observant. And dawn begins golden; “dawn goes down” makes one think of sunset, but it is just day, a day less sparkly than the golden dawn that begat it perhaps. Yes, time flies, but there is much implication in this poem of falling. So Eden sank to grief/ So dawn goes down to day/ Nothing gold can stay. There is nothing extraneous in this short poem; Eden sinking to grief is intentional, making this poem about humanity’s separation from nature, our fall from our golden potential when we were green and new in the world. This poem, without explicitly using seasonal words, has spring and fall entwined, so while that does show the fleeting nature of time, it is also a reminder of the seasons of our lives, and the hues we hold, the hues we live and die by. Just now in Frost’s old stomping grounds the leaves are turning back from summer greens to fall golds, and those colorful autumn leaves will fall, (for nothing gold can stay), but I wonder if that last line offers a bit of hope, the potential of knowing bright hues once more before the onset of winter.
I hope that addresses well enough the first three questions. As far as writing like any well-known poet, I choose— me! But I am not a well-known poet…
I admire many poets and many styles. I think any poet whom we admire is worth examining and, to an extent, imitating. That is what many of the poetry writing prompts do, they encourage us to try out different forms and styles of poetry, to pay attention to syllables and rhyme schemes and such. I sometimes see a form or style that is new to me and try it as a challenge and to learn something new. It’s all good, as long as you are building your own poeming muscles and not trying to write someone else’s poem. We tend to follow the recipe the first time we make a new dish. But then we get flexible and make the dish our own. In poeming too, we are aware that ours isn’t the only way to express the ingredients we find to hand, and we should want to find our own voice. In many ways free verse is the most challenging and difficult poetic form for me. How do you know when it’s done, if it’s done right, if there are no “rules”? That having been said, I am not against bending or even breaking the rules, but they have to be there in the first place for that to work.
Since I was nine years old I have occasionally been blessed by the magical balm of someone saying, “I liked your poem”. It’s a huge thing. I am not a singer or dancer or a visual artist. But sometimes I make pictures with words, and sometimes those words have a rhythm and a cadence or a tone that works, that strikes a chord. It is good to feel like a poem has performed well. And I have come to truly appreciate all the other lesser-known (not yet household names) poets that put their work out on their blogs. From you all I have learned so much and have been shown the great potential and creativity of poeming, and the assurance that poetry is alive and well.
My review of For the Girls by D Avery
This is the first book of poetry by D. Avery I have read and it was a wonderful experience. For the Girls really spoke to me as it is about the path of breast cancer many women walk. By reading these poems, I was able to follow this traumatic journey from diagnosis, through treatment and to remission for many, and death for a few.
The poems in For the Girls capture the concerns aroused by potential discover, the shock of a malignant diagnosis, the support offered by some of the staff at the treatment clinics and the comfort of firm friendships. The also disclose the pain of emotional upheaval being ignored and staff treating a patient with kind impatience.
Some of the verses/poems that struck me the most in this books are as follows:
Some of us have to get them off our chests.
And learn living without them.
Some, dear friends, couldn’t live.
With or without them.”
from The Girls
“There’s another intruder who lacks
Even the decency of mice or rats
that at least show themselves at night
To show they’ve been in the house all along,
only sometimes out of sight.
Why would you suspect your own house?
Relax, there’s nothing, or maybe only a mouse.
Why would you suspect there’s something there
Quiet as anxiety, maybe under the stairs
or up in the attic, just biding its time
A squatter in the house you blithely call “mine”?
This collection of poems is freestyle and very bitter sweet. The insightfulness of the poet brought tears to my eyes and brought back memories of ladies I’ve known who’ve walked this same frightening path.
Purchase For the Girls by D Avery
About D Avery
D. Avery (196?-20??) has long been a compulsive poet. Despite a very important day job educating public school children, she is often distracted by this compulsion, as well as by life’s great questions, such as “Kayak, or bike?”. Though she has come to realize that nothing difficult is ever easy, she believes that it’s all good.
About Robbie Cheadle
Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.
I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.
I have participated in a number of anthologies:
- Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
- Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
- Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
- Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.
I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.
Find Robbie Cheadle
Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram
Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
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