Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.

This Too: Rock & Water

Yesterday, as requested, a man and his two assistants created a new sidewalk for our house.

First a frame: the particular angles marked with lines and string, and wood. Then a base of crushed limestone leveled and waiting. The practical done with attention, too, is art.
As they worked, a robin landed between them to pull worms from the turned soil, heedless of her proximity to man, hopping closer, then closer again.

And his son, visiting, complained my boots are missing: four years old and eager to be there, in the frame, doing his Father's work, waiting eagerly for the rumble of the tumbler truck.

With the mud pouring in, with rubber boots and concrete rakes, the rush began to pull and press the raw ingredients into each section of the frame. A moment or two's pause as they waited for the right texture and consistency before smoothing each inch: the delicate business of pressing, cleaning each tool between passes, until the surface lay smooth, then brushing & cutting in narrow grooves to allow the give and take of the earth, and ice, and heat.

And the end of the day, he stood back and smiled, pleased.

Something solid, something reliable: a day's work, well done.


Troupe Portrait with Unicycle.

by Amy D. Unsworth

One tent, one ring

and the ponies trudging their sad circles,

the bags of peanuts shrunken

to fit a child’s hand.

But the spangled girls still ascend

to the lofted ceiling,

to dangle by heel or tooth.

And to the father’s broad shoulders

the sons catapult.

And Daughter steps

from her high platform, like off the curb

in her everyday boredom.

From: Tar River Poetry, Spring 2007

Poetry as Witness

I've discussed before "what poetry does" and one of the things is that poetry can act as witness. The best of these witness poems engage us at an emotional level vs. a didactic level and help us to understand the perspective of the person who is suffering and the reactions of those around him or her. Politically, a single person's expressed suffering tends to move us more than the "millions of people who have starved to death" type of data that is so often vaunted on the news.

Here is an interview, and another news source provides an article and poems from a poet from North Korea whose work tells of the suffering of the people. For the poet writing as Jang Jin Sung, writing is overtly a political act, so much that he must write under a pseudonym in exile after defecting from the North. He swam a river with the poems tucked in a chest/ or next to his chest. The language is unclear on that point in the article. Poetry as courage: strength to persevere, from the heart.

As the Months Go By

On Thursday, at my ninth month checkup the doctor says: You're boring. This, my friends, is wonderful news. Apparently, my amazing bone marrow, countless people's prayers and good wishes, support from a wonderful spouse & family, and a positive outlook with lots of laughter are having the right desired effect. The cea (a cancer marker)-last time within normal ranges- was this time untraceable. My resting heart rate has improved dramatically, and more, and more. (I'll not bore with details) Thank you for your good thoughts.

On the way home,I was doing the snoopy dance in my head, and smiling. In looking briefly for the snoopy dance online I came across this quote:
"He has to retreat into his fanciful world in order to survive. "

But more interesting is the Gertrude Stein / Snoopy connection. . .
serendipities abound.

And once upon a time in a life time far away, I too knew Snoopy. In our school's production of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown," I had the illustrious role of Woodstock. Yellow overalls, beanie hat and all.

Snoopy dances for everyone.

Poetry as Antidote

Sometimes when you ask, the answer is partially comedy,
but wholly what one needs.

We, too, are wondrously made:

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,

Gallway Kinnell's St Francis and the Sow

The Universe has a sneaky sense of humor.
Remember to be well, laugh often, bless yourself.

$10 Words?

The news some days is amusing. I've been an avid, voracious reader for a good percentage of my life, so I suppose that I take the words that comprise my vocabulary as standard English. "Thespian" and "flippant," according to the article above, qualify as "Ten Dollar" words. I'll give them credit for "sagacious" though, I haven't slipped that one in a conversation recently. And how do you get a job reading letters from prison?

I'll applaud the prisoner's efforts to give his son a large vocabulary and encourage the child to aim for college. Why should it be a surprise that he wants more for his child? Doesn't every parent? And maybe he just subscribes to The Word of the Day. It's those "big words" that teach root meanings which are so essential to understanding:
. . .an average American undergraduate is estimated to have a vocabulary of about 20,000 words. . . .One half of general words and two thirds of all academic, technical, and low-frequency words are derived from Latin, French (through Latin), or Greek, thus indicating the importance of learning the meanings of roots and affixes.

Language is so permeable and so apt to erosion that each generation really does have a "gap."Try reading books from 1950's and see how much the "normal" vocabulary has changed. Or pick up a copy of Shakespeare and see what a couple of hundred years will do. So, I'll applaud anyone who is working to keep "big words" in circulation. Don't the French have a whole administrative wing for that?

And if you learn more words, you'll experience a physical change in your brain:
For monolingual English speakers, increased vocabulary knowledge correlates with increased grey matter density in a region of the parietal cortex that is well-located to mediate an association between meaning and sound.

I like that "mediate an association between meaning and sound" line. It's an article on brain function, but there for a moment, I'm hearing a line from a conversation on poetry.

Did you see this?

Congratulations to Seth who is continuing to making his mark on the poetry world. Now that's something!

Poetry's Featured Poet: Seth Abramson

Laugh or Cry?

I'll admit that the whole site was quite funny in a strange way. But somehow knowing that these manipulated images (esp. of women) bombard us constantly makes me want to cry.

Isn't she beautiful enough before? I guess someone thought not.

Stop it.

but this one is just hilarious.

What He/She Said

In a mailing from Poetry today, a card with a quote and a Triolet. It's a little late for the pocket poem, so I'll post it on the refrigerator. However, paper tends to get dusty and worn and splashed with tomato sauce, so here' the quote that I'm saying Amen to today:

Let us remember. . .that in the end we go to poetry
for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit
our lives and the world in which we live them, and
that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might
be less apt to destroy both.

-Christian Wiman

In this week's library catch: Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry

Poetry's work is the clarification and magnification of being.

-Jane Hirshfield
And that's the opening sentence for the preface. Thus far, I've really enjoyed the essays I've sampled. In the library's deep chair under a corner window, I found myself nodding emphatically. I am reminded of this Louise May Alcott quote as well:

She is too fond of books and it has addled her brain.

And if you have a moment to giggle, you can check out an ornament decorated with this quote and the "related items" at Signals.

A Cloud for Spring

It's been a long while since I've posted a word cloud. There is a cloud generator here if you'd like to try it for yourself: TagCrowd.
You can enter your webpage, or a piece of writing and even exclude words (like blog).
Since the webpage, I entered was this one, I'm sure that these are my common words for the last month or so. Can you tell I've been in the garden?

created at TagCrowd.com