CCTE Creative Writing I: Poetry

Note: These are not the better lines, but the thoughts that were part of the poems.

In live blogging this conference, I am following the conventions for conference blogging.

Chair: Steve Remollino
College of the Mainland
Poetry is my field. It is my thing.

First creative writing session.
I tried to keep poetry with poetry, fiction with fiction, creative nonfiction and prose. This didn’t totally happen, due to the need for rooms.

We are scheduled to have three presenters, but only two are here.

Sally McGreevey Hannay, Schreiner University, in Kerrville, TX
“Poems from The Great Big Middle

Thank you so much for being here and listening to me today. A collection I started a while ago. I may still be in the The Great Big Middle, but probably not. Not originally from Texas. A variety of poems.

about a child that has gone in the wrong direction, remains there
“Pond of Tears”
courtroom pew… discovery
lawyers in nice gray suits
virtual scales of justice
son offstage
movement of black and white stripes
calling and charging
muttered charges and pleas
bury my expectations
frisbee on the beach?
quietly screaming
kind and broken looking woman
gown is open at the back
nice to see someone stealing,… a child of greed
snakeskin cowboy boots
float on ocean swells
pretty lawyer with the big pink purse
among the restitution

Now for something completely different. It’s something we all do, poets that are teachers. Beginning semester meeting.
“Notes on a Meeting”
zen in my desk chair
swivel enough
How did Harpo get his job?
can no longer value the back support
fly from the detrius

Trying to go back and forth with heavy and light. I lost quite a few people in the last few years. Poem about my brother and I. Taking care of my sister the last few days of her life.
“Portrait of Cathy”
old oil painting of my sister
black leotard
wearing the “Cathy look”
feet in black ballet slippers
shiny as lightening hair
50 years later, sister’s portrait hangs on her bedroom’s wall
scared… hospice team
baby sister
recognize my big sister
cancer Cathy
studied and counted her breaths
the dancing girl
listening closely to the whisper of joy

Something not about anyone dying. About me. I can’t ever order anything off the menu. My brother would always order the best thing on the menu.
“You Decide”

when to ask your hostess for your coat
turn the other cheek or sue
Decisive types don’t understand.
Decision dawdlers
sweet uncertainty
chronic lack of follow through
the big stuff isn’t in their hands

Do I have time? About two minutes. A short one?
A villanella. Made my students do one. Thought I should do one. I grew up on the West Coast, loved to be on the ocean.

swollen swells
shoulder deep
floating dance
between the swell and rush
lose the sparkling pause

Toni Holland, UT Arlington “Godadapts”
Did not appear. This is not normal for her.

Sharon Klander, Houston Community College-Central
“Tell Me a Story”

old growth gardenia
wild strawberries… intimidating the entire lawn
scent-drunken worms
too involved to notice
plead for one sight so strong it will ground every next year
one caught breath

This next poem in four sections. Quote by Virginia Wolf at the beginning.
“Where so much strength is spent at telling the truth, the truth itself is bound to reach us in …. exhausted condition.”–V. Wolf

well-placed parts of ornamental animals
our mother drawn and quartered

west of rough British swag
walk the English first
couldn’t survive the voices of another war
eighteen stories high
silent screams of sculpted women
What’s the price of beauty? It’s rape, idealized, assumed.

grandmother’s garden a half-page of script
stayed with the earth
left the screen door open for the breeze
wanting some iced tea in front of the fan
throwing silver in the grocery bag
another woman trembling, dialing the phone

enjoys the Houston sun
miss the hibiscus before the hurricane
mouthfuls of red song
firecracker bush boasting hummers so intent
try to redeem the drought with decoration
Nature keeps her own house.
shake a summer cushion clean

my father floats face down
maps old waters
maybe the water rolled him face up
turned again as if by midwives’ sure hands

“Tell Me a Story”
mirror of this wet sand
pick shells for their buckets
pulls slowly along the horizon’s line
tired cadence lost
submit to an ocean
having lost the sun
sky has smudged the purple of an oyster’s underskin
stroke the shell listening

How ironic that we are in a law school.

Remember the first jury I sat on, the lawyer was dressed worse than the defendant.

thinking about the imagery, the gardens
in the first poem, waiting for son’s case
burying expectations underneath the thorny rosebush
metaphor for life

My father was a writer and he would say, “This is how you work things out.” –Sally
writing is suspect

You always wonder about the person who did unspeakable acts and they shove a microphone in the parents’ face, “What did you do?”

One of the surprising things about sharing things like that in poetry, I always have people coming up to me afterwards and saying they need to talk to me. They need help with this.
Often the most surprising people who will come up.

Sharon, I liked the way you kind of tease us into this feeling of security and then POW we see the horror. That’s a great way to reveal it. Today’s world is such a shocking world and we see it without any kind of preparation. To embed it in the beauty of the garden…
Really heightens the contrast

Was wondering… thinking about Alice Walker’s “Her Mother’s Garden”
Are there other garden writers? Are there other women writers who have cropped up?
Rape of the Sabine and variations thereto.
They had not even thought of it and they were living there.
They were placed to provide balance. They were not there to provide shock value. They were in among these and no one seemed to care.
Then on the plane back, there was an article on French kitchen gardens, perfectly arranged. My stepfather, his mother, was a great gardener, and he learned from her. I think the man is still alive because he gardens everyday. Now his son is a great gardener. I am perfectly spoiled.
When I attempt anything with gardening, it is usually something that is already there.
I just like things to be where they are.
So wonderful when my friend visited from Germany. Lives in Lower Saxony where it is really dark and cold.

We all related to the drought.

Related to the lint and the dog hair. “Oh, she’s been to my laundry room.”

Have you read the poem aloud to an audience before?
Yes. This poem has been long in the making.
I am picturing students not understanding the irony of that line. (The rape doesn’t matter.)

Finished it after my friend from Germany came to visit. I read it at a writer’s conference, parts 1-3. Then my friend’s response, I wrote the fourth.
Ekphrastic poetry: must give a reading to an audience, amazing
Last time I read it was there. Worked a little bit on the fourth section.
It’s a tough poem.
But things have to be read.

Thank you to our participants.

Our next creative writing is this afternoon.

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