Poetry Talk: Sublimity by McKenna Hight

When a dear friend tells you they’ve encased their soul in paper, it is best to tread carefully.  Poetry is an intimate form of literature.  To translate your inner trials, triumphs, and longings into language and is a brave thing to do.  I deeply admire McKenna Hight’s courage in sharing her debut poetry collection, Sublimity, with the world.  It’s an act of hospitality I’m honored to receive.

Before proceeding, I’d like to say a few things about my relationship with the author.  Sometimes in life, you meet people and find instant kinship.  You may only be around each other for a few days, but that’s enough to form what will likely be a lifelong friendship.  McKenna, I think, is one of those people.  We met four months ago during my brief Spring Break stay at Rochester L’Abri.  She’s a writer from Atlanta and we bonded instantly over our mutual love for YA fantasy and Sarah J. Maas.  During our short time together, we had some really intense discussions about faith, struggles, and how we are to live.  Meeting McKenna was no accident and I value her friendship immensely.

As a blogger, bookstagrammer, librarian, and amateur book critic, it made complete sense to do a review of Sublimity.  I use the word “review” lightly.  This post is pretty long, as I get into some close reading, but that’s part of the fun.  While it’s definitely possible to critique a work of poetry by its structure and adherence to literary form, poetry is hard to pin down. So much of a poetic work is subjective.  Poetry is a conversation.  It’s about immersing yourself in the figurative language and gleaning whatever you can.  I don’t pretend to understand all of Hight’s poems.  I don’t think understanding is the point. There is no concrete meaning to poetry and there is space for a thousand interpretations.  Poetry is about the journey, so let’s journey together.

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy of Sublimity, you can do so at this link.  Follow the author on Instagram @yawnsters.

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Poetry Friday: There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale was one of the first poets I truly fell in love with.  I discovered her work when I was in high school while doing unrelated research on the internet and liked what I found so much that I asked for her complete works for Christmas.  I’ve read the book cover to cover.  Most of her poems are short and sweet and many are dear to my heart.  This one got stuck in my head the other day.  (Fun fact: Ray Bradbury enjoyed it too–he wrote a short story bearing the same name.)

There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

——————–

What is Poetry Friday?  Years ago, when I was in high school, we did poetry lessons every Friday.  I’ve always loved this idea and will continue the tradition by sharing poems on my blog.

swiftly, silently (a poem)

swiftly, silently

the hours slip into the fog

as she gives up counting sheep

no bleating penetrates the haze

boundaries between light and dark

are lost amid vacant pastures

of unspoken verse

and today slips into tomorrow.

she loses herself in the rhythm

of poetry that has not been penned

savoring the unsung words,

        rolling the idea of vowels across the threshold of her lips

like a puff from a midnight cigarette

what will she say to you?

what will she say to you when her time comes?

in that moment

when syntax must harden

when the verbs and nouns align

into concrete—

will you press your hands into the cool pavement?

will you make your mark upon the page?

empty fragments floating amid

ungrazed grass, waiting for the Sandman

to sprinkle his dust and claim

the syrupy, smooth whispers of verses

melding as midnight and morning intertwine

fog shifts over the water

she braces herself against the steel railing

white haze encompassing

stirring in her the need to reach out—

to grasp the words, to fill a pasture with her pen

but the damp river air washes away the sounds

they slip through her fingers

kissing her ears before sliding away

as a blush on the horizon signals the coming of dawn. . .

alone she remains.

hand extended towards the fading mist—

silently

swiftly

I don’t often write poetry, but when I do, it shows up on my blog years later.  This was drafted during my semester abroad in London.  I submitted it in my Innovative Creative Writing class a few semesters ago, where I received lots of wonderful feedback from my classmates.  As an inconsistent poet, it feels good to let these words finally see the light of day.

What do you think?  Should I do the whole poetry-thing more often?

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Crossing Campus in Late March

Minnesotans wait a long time for Spring.  Winter marks its territory in November and stays with us until mid-April.  The month of March is the most difficult to get through–most of the snow is gone, the ground is starting to soften, but most of the world is still a frozen wasteland.

But then there’s that day when you catch it: the slight scent of spring.  I don’t even know how to describe it, really.  It’s just a subtle freshness in the air.  It’s slight, but it seeps down into your soul, giving you fresh energy to make it through a few more weeks of winter.  The thing is, though, if you don’t pay attention, you miss it.

A few years ago, during a particularly long, miserable winter, I was in a poetry class.  I don’t do much creative writing these days, but I’ve resurrected something I wrote on the subject of the first scent of spring.  I re-edited it just now to make it decent enough to post. In light of a Blogging 101 assignment (which I discuss below), I’ve decided to share it with you all.  My theme wasn’t cooperating and formatting some of the words the way I wanted, so I made an image version.

———————————————— CrossingCampus Poem Text ————————————————

This post was created for a Blogging 101 assignment that had to do with writing based on a prompt.  I wrote from the following, found on The Daily Post:

From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?

I’ve always enjoyed prompt-based writing, but I haven’t done any in a long time.  I really enjoyed crafting this post, revisiting old writing, and sharing with you all.  This stretched me in a way I’m not used to, and it feels good to push myself.

You now know about one of my favorite smells.  So now I have to ask: What’s yours?

There Will Come Soft Rains

I heard the weather before I saw it.  The wind blasted against my windowpane, causing it to shake and shudder.  The thing about living on the fourth floor of a building, though, is that weather look worse than it actually is.  When I stepped outside in my blue dress, headed for church, I was pleasantly surprised.  The wind was strong, but not overpowering.  A slight drizzle fell, forming small puddles on the path.

I could smell Spring coming.  And I thought of this poem by Sara Teasdale.

~~~

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

~~~

Photo from Google: http://www.paintingsgallery.pro/upload/artists/lipko_andrew_218564/artworks/www.PaintingsGallery.pro_Lipko_Andrew_Spring_Rain_On_The_River_medium_219217.jpg

Spring rain

It’s impromptu poetry time!

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

dusky morning

dawny afternoon

eerie dimness smothers and

lends to pittering and pattering

along the cold-cracked pavement

 

on the other side of the window

my roommates bound

through the falling droplets

oscillating up and down

months of restlessness

result of a five month Minnesota cold spell

suddenly breaking

 

on my side of the pane

I crack open the glass

hugging my warm sweater

breathing in the first spring rain

 

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About the down boy (a brief poem)

About the down boy

today, tonight Laundromat

little boy in broken

radio

running sleep songs

upstairs for the girl with the Laundry cart

 

playing on and over the apartment floorboards

up and            back he goes

jumping along for his

little

girl

~~*~~

Produced from an exercise we did in my innovative writing class.  Do feel free to share your thoughts!