Monday, August 1, 2022

August 2022 Challenge - Bees


When I was a child, I learned a poem with a moral:

How Doth the Little Busy Bee

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

 

How skilfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.

 

In works of labor or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.

 

In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed,
That I may give for every day
Some good account at last.

 

~ Isaac Watts

I suspect that I found Isaac Watts’ poem in one of my grandmothers old McGuffey Readers. At the time when they were published, much poetry written for children and taught in schools had the purpose of encouraging positive behavior (as defined by the author). I think I was in high school when I was introduced to a famous poem by W. B. Yeats, one that brought me much enjoyment because of its lyrical sound and beautiful images.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

 

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

 

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

~ W. B. Yeats

This poem celebrates nature. It doesn’t attempt to teach a lesson. What I loved most about this poem—and still love most—is the phrase “the bee-loud glade” in the first stanza.  I like the idea that the narrator of the poem can live in peace with nature, including bees. Although it could be argued that the heart of the poem is the lake or the cabin, the bees play an important role in the image planted on the reader’s mind.

Many poems have been published about bees. It was the theme of the Poetry Challenge in April 2015. it seems appropriate that we revisit the theme as the environmental threats against bees have grown. 

 

The Avocet publishes only poetry related to nature. In the summer of 2021, they published this poem:

Daily Devotion

So very much depends
upon the soft buzzing business
of bees.

Small staunch pollinators,
transforming bits of sunshine
into sweet golden lava;
food for the gods,
great grizzly bears,
for Winnie the Pooh,
or you, and me.

Levitating
flower to flower,
occasionally
falling fast asleep,
happy in fragrant embrace,
slyly nestled
with friendly, fuzzy
compatriot;
sister in arms.

No apples, almonds or apricots,
without their aeronautic devotions
no blueberries or blackberries,
no pears, potatoes or papayas,
no strawberries, sweet cherry or sesame;
perhaps,
no you, or me.

~ E. Kadera

 

In 2017, Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine published a poem with a similar message:

Reverie

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
   ~ Emily Dickinson

Remember so you can answer
when your grandchildren ask,
what was the sound Yeats loved,
the sound of a bee-loud glade?
How big were the blueberries
you plopped into your cereal,
or served on ice cream?
What is this strawberry shortcake
you speak of with such nostalgia?
Explain that asparagus was green
and pointed, that its absence spears
your heart each spring.
Tell your grandchildren why
lovers called each other honey.
And when they pull out the collected works
of Emily Dickinson, say she was wrong.
Reverie alone is not enough
to make a prairie.

~ Wilda Morris

 

You can read the winning poems for the 2015 challenge at https://wildamorris.blogspot.com/2015/04/april-2015-poetry-challenge-winner-bee.html, then click on “older post” to see the example poems. The older post also includes an extensive list of poems related to bees, many with links so you can read them on the Internet.

 

The August Challenge:

The challenge for this month is a poem featuring bees (or a bee). Your poem may be literal or metaphoric, serious or humorous. It can be for children or for adults. It can be just for fun, or an attempt to motivate people to care for bees. Note that the blog format does not accommodate shaped poems or long lines; if a poem has long lines, they are used, they have to be broken in two, with the second part indented (as in the poem “Lilith,” one of the May 2018 winners), or the post has to use small print. Note, too, that long poems are at a disadvantage.

Poems could be disqualified if the guidelines are not followed.

1-Title your poem unless it is in a form that discourages titles.

2-Single-space.

3-Put your submission in this order:

Your poem

Publication data if your poem was previously published

Your name

A brief third-person bio

Your email address – it saves me a lot of work if you put your email address at the end of your submission.

4-Please keep the poem on the left margin (standard 1” margin). Do not put any part of your submission on a colored background. No colored type. Do not use a fancy font and do not use a header or footer.

5-You may submit a published poem if you retain copyright, but please include publication data. This applies to poems published in books, journals, newspapers, or on the Internet. Poems already used on this blog are not eligible to win, but the poets may submit a different poem.

6-The deadline is August 15. Poems submitted after the deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards. Winners are published on this blog.

7-Please don’t stray too from “family-friendly” language (some children and teens read this blog).

8- No simultaneous submissions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published.

9-The poet retains copyright on each poem. If a previously unpublished poem wins and is published elsewhere later, please give credit to this blog. I do not register copyright with the US copyright office, but by US law, the copyright belongs to the writer unless the writer assigns it to someone else.

10-Decision of the judge or judges is final.

11-If the same poet wins three months in a row (which has not happened thus far), he or she will be asked not to submit the following two months.

12-Send one poem only.

How to Submit Your Poem:

1-Send your poem to wildamorris4[at]gmail[dot]com (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). The poem must respond in some way to the specific challenge for the month.

2-Put “August Poetry Challenge Submission” FOLLOWED BY YOUR NAME in the subject line of your email. 

3-Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win at the end of the poem.

4-Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment or both (Doc, Docx, rich text or plain text; no pdf files, please). Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold (not all capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem).  Put everything in the order listed above.

6-Also, please do not use multiple spaces instead of punctuation in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique (I sometimes do it myself). However, I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.

Poems shorter than 40 lines are preferred.

 

Bios:

After getting an M.Div, E. Kadera enrolled in a D.Min program in community development/activism. This was due to the environmental destruction we are experiencing through climate change. Much of her poetry reflects her love and concern for our natural world. She has been published in The Avocet: Journal of Nature Poetry.

Wilda Morris, Workshop Co-Chair of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and a past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society, has published numerous poems in anthologies, webzines, and print publications, including The Ocotillo Review, Rockford Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Modern Haiku, and The Kerf. She has won awards for formal and free verse and haiku, including the 2019 Founders’ Award from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Her latest book of poetry is Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Boks).

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was born in Ireland. He is known for his role in reviving Celtic culture. He wrote poetry almost entirely in traditional forms. He was also known as a playwright and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Celtic myths feature in much of his work. Later in life he became more involved in politics, which also influenced his writing. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was a Congregational clergyman. He is most remembered for the hymns he wrote, including “Joy to the World,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” and “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past.” He also wrote books on philosophy, logic, grammar, geography and astronomy. “How Doth the Little Busy Bee” is one of a number of his poems and hymns that were written for children.

 

© Wilda Morris

 

 

 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

July 2022 Challenge: Hats and Other Headgear

Photo from Christy Schwan

There were many excellent poems submitted this month. The judge, Cristina M. R. Norcross, said, “I truly enjoyed reading this selection of poems.  I loved the sheer variety of unique approaches to this theme. . . . I had to make some tough choices. Congratulations to all of the writers who submitted.  This was wonderful work.”

It was interesting to see how many kinds of headgear provided subjects for poems including straw hat, swim cap, pillbox hat, lace veil, stocking cap, homburg, birdcage hat, baseball cap, deer-hunting wool hat with ear flaps, military dress-uniform hat, tasseled graduation hat, hat with college logo, crown, pith helmet, hair towel, felt hat, fedora, scarf, wig, even an (evidently hooded) Batman cape!

 

Christy Schwan’s poem, “Chosen,” was chosen for first place.

Chosen

untouched, unworn for years
his hat collection
hangs in his empty office
waits for his arm to reach up
make his choice for the day
lift one off the nailed railing
as he heads for the fields

they no longer jockey for position
no jovial nudges between
seed corn, fertilizer, farm implement

logo-embellished caps
unneeded, unseen
they glimpse the comings and goings
of grand, then great-grand children

choked by layers of dust
grown stiff with disuse
faded to pale shades
of their former glory
they groan as doors
jostle their lineup
open and shut without them


then a child riding on her father’s shoulders
points to a vintage deer trademark
the great-grandmother’s eyes sparkle
gnarled hands reach heavenward
brush off the awakened hat
to a collective sigh of joy

chosen once again

~ Christy Schwan

Norcross said, “I enjoyed the pacing of the poem and the animated sense of life given to the hats described. The lovely turn at the end, of one of the hats being chosen by a child, and how this joy brings a sense of awakening, is so endearing and engaging. These last four lines hold a special magic, ‘gnarled hands reach heavenward / brush off the awakened hat / to a collective sigh of joy / chosen once again.’”

 

 

The second-place poem, by Cameron Morse, speaks of an entirely different kind of head covering:

Optune  

My head is bandaged.
The tan tape holds my head
together, pressing ceramic 
discs to a cleanly 
shaven scalp. That’s part
of the deal, you have to buzz- 
saw away with the Pitbull 
Gold skull shaver every 
smidgeon of stubble. Otherwise, 
the transducer arrays may lift 
and they need full contact 
to produce the electric fields 
that dismay the tumor. It’s humid 
in July in the show me state. 
My scalp sweats below 
the circuit board. The air itself 
is an adhesive no amount of 
hydrogel can salve. Somewhere 
in my right hemisphere, 
a tumor cell is trying to split 
apart and encounters some 
turbulence. My daughter pulls 
on the telephone cord that connects 
me to the device. A loose 
connection in the box clipped 
to my hip gives me a jolt 
through the discs. I cry out 
then google “electroshock therapy” 
I’ve gotten so many shocks I should have 
been cured twelve times by now.  

 ~ Cameron Morse

Norcross explained why she selected “Optune” as a winner: “This poem about a person receiving treatment for a brain tumor is so tender, touching, and carefully written. Wearing bandages as a hat is a unique image, and for the speaker, this is a sign of great courage.  We are immediately drawn into this world through descriptive details and a sense of vulnerability. 

 

Mary Cohutt’s third-place poem has a different take on hats.

Hats at Random

my father once told me
never trust a man who wears a hat to look taller
he said this as a man walked by
his hat perched precariously on the very top of his head
a stiff breeze
would have sent him on a frosty the snowman sprint
my father never wore a hat
except on the coldest days
lime green and orange, with a look-at-me pompom
a whimsical choice
for a man not known for whimsy
I wish I looked good in hats
I admire women who put on a hat
and their eyes become luminous
their cheeks more hollowed
and their lips part as if to share a delicious secret
in my cellar
on a rusty hook next to my hoe
hangs a wide brimmed straw hat with a work-stained band
I put on this hat
and look out to a world of color
of texture
of delicate butterflies
and buzzing bees
I see my hands in the warmed earth
as they make room for more color
and my own image is forgotten

~ Mary Cohutt

I truly enjoyed the flow of this poem, the detailed descriptions, and the imagery,” says Norcross. “The last 3 lines about ‘hands in warmed earth’ felt so meditative and rich.  The whole poem engages the senses and takes the reader on a journey that has a sense of immediacy.”

 

Honorable Mentions

To Zee Zahava for a haiku beginning with “sister crow.” The judge’s comments: “I love how creative and unique the image is in this poem of the crow wearing a snowflake as a hat.  The description of an “April beret” is perfect.”

To Charles Kouri for “tussling our flounces.” The judge’s comments: “This poem deserves mention just for the language itself, the musicality of it and the very visual nature of the poem.  I loved the word play in this one, the alliteration and the juxtaposition of words.  It is an enticing read.”

 

Bios:

Mary Cohutt is an information specialist for her local Council on Aging. She grew up in a family with 12 children. She has two adult children and two grandchildren. Her favorite activities include reading, painting and gardening.

Charles Kouri is playwright, lyricist and producer of two full-length musicals, REBEL and 24WORDS, which feature stories and original songs inspired by the Equal Rights Movement. He recently began writing poetry and is publishing 304-Days-With-3-Days-Missing, a series of 301 poems written during the pandemic. 

Cameron Morse (he, him) is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His book of unrhymed sonnets, Sonnetizer, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. He holds an MFA from the University of Kansas City-Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and three children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.    

Cristina M. R. Norcross lives in Southeast Wisconsin and is the editor of the online poetry journal, Blue Heron Review.  Author of 9 poetry collections, a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, and an Eric Hoffer Book Award nominee, her most recent books are The Sound of a Collective Pulse (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Beauty in the Broken Places (Kelsay Books, 2019).  Cristina’s work appears in:Visual VerseYour Daily PoemPoetry HallVerse-VirtualThe Ekphrastic Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among others.  Her work also appears in numerous print anthologies.  Cristina has helped organize community art/poetry projects, has led writing workshops, and has hosted many readings.  She is the host of the Facebook writing prompt group, Connection and Creativity in Challenging Times and is the co-founder of Random Acts of Poetry & Art Day.  Find out more about this author at: www.cristinanorcross.com.

Christy Schwan is a native Hoosier author/poet living in Wisconsin. She's a rockhound, wild berry picker, wildflower seeker, astronomy studier, and quiet sports lover of kayaking, canoeing, snowshoeing and loon spotting. Her work has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Museletter, Ariel Anthology, 8142 Review, 2022 Wisconsin Poet's Calendar, and Bramble Lit Mag.

Zee Zahava lives in Ithaca, New York.