Poet Laureate’s News

September 2021

Dear Sonomans,
Phyllis Meshulam

Thanks to those of you who have already submitted poems for the anthology. I have been blessed to be joined by three other talented people on my editorial team: Terry Ehret, Gwynn O’Gara and Gail King. I think we have a good selection of poems. But I will extend the deadline to September 15 for teens and contributors with poems in Spanish.

If you are reading this on September 1, you have until the end of the day to send your poem (up to 3) to phyllie@sonic.net. The three sections I envision for this book are based on Joanna Macy’s “the work that reconnects.” She starts with the concept of “gratitude,” then moves to “honoring our pain for the world,” then “seeing with new eyes,” a part of which, in my thinking, will be “talking back to foundational texts.” No more than 65 lines per poem, including title, epigraphs, footnotes.

Sappho-worksheetSappho-lesson But, in any case, let’s keep writing! I’m going to share a lesson from Poetry Crossing, written by my predecessor Iris Jamahl Dunkle. The book was published in 2014, long before Iris’s latest collection of poems: West : Fire : Archive, and her book of biographical studies: Charmian Kittredge London, Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer. But it will give you an idea of why it’s important to read Dunkle. Not to mention Sappho! This lesson will give you a smattering of fragments from this great ancient Greek poet to use to start your own poem. In so doing, you will be joining the likes of Amy Lowell and H.D. If you want more fragments, check out If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho in Anne Carson’s elegant translation.

Phyllis Meshulem
Sonoma County Poet Laureate 2020-2022
https://www.phyllismpoet.com

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Archives of previous Poet Laureate columns may be found here for 2012,  2013, 2014,  20152016-2017, 2018-2020 and 2020-2022.

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