Tag Archives: Sable Books

The Way the Rain Works

Ralph and Ashley

Photo credit: Mary Barnard

 

Here I am posing with award-winning poet Ralph Earle, who kindly autographed a copy of his book,  The Way the Rain Works. To the folks gathered at the Central Carolina Community College Creative Writing Program’s Open Mic Friday night, he treated us all to a few sample poems.

the way the rain works

If you haven’t yet read The Way the Rain Works, you should do yourself a favor and order it today from Sable Books. The individual poems weave a powerful and poignant story about the slow dissolution of a family. There is great sadness, yes, but there are also touches of humor (“The Insulating Properties of Trees” and “Sweater Weather”, for example).

The primary landscape, North Carolina, is familiar but at the same time, new again, through Ralph’s intellect and imagination. In “The Mill Dam at Bynum” he writes: “In the summer I wander the overgrown farm road / like Whitman, mad and undisguised, observing / how broad the river grows there, how poised.”  I am not the only one who will never think of the Bynum mill dam in the same way again!

There are many other gems, from “The Flight Back Home” to “The Sea and Sand Did This” to the title poem itself. For me, the best way to summarize my own personal experience with this book is in the concluding lines of “Snow Falling Silently”: “No matter how often / we start the story / differently, it ends / the same: water flows,/ Night grows old./ Snow falls in the silence.”

A number of other writers regaled us into the evening at the Open Mic, with diverse poems and tales of deviled eggs, dancing queens, fathers, birdsong, crisper drawers, and much, much more. A huge thanks to the members of the Board (in addition to Ralph) who organized the evening: Maggie Zwilling, Kim Overcash, Judith Stanton, Michele Berger, and Mary Barnard (who doubled as poet AND photographer for the event).

If you missed it, no worries. Stay tuned because we’ll do it again in the fall!

Celebrating April: National Poetry Month!

collageNot only does April bring us warmer weather, this month also brings us 30 days to celebrate poetry! We’ll be celebrating in a number of ways, from an interview with Scott Wiggerman (poet and co-editor of Wingbeats I and II, two of my favorite poetry-writing books) to samples of the exercises we created during our poetry workshop last month.

Today I’ll share a sample from our exercise on metaphors, what was inspired by Chapter 4 of Poemcrazy by Susan G. Wooldridge. To get us started, I read a short work of my own (below).

Hope

When in November a candelabra of tiny pink roses
pushes up through a mound
of brittle brown leaves

I then asked everyone to draw blindly from a pouch containing cards bearing a single word, an abstract noun such as love, envy, pity, sorrow, and anger. Next, I asked them to choose one of the items on the table (pictured above) and use it as a metaphor for the word they drew. What was fun about it was that a couple of people chose the same word but ended up picking very different items. Mary and Rosalie each drew “Anger” but Mary chose the beaded purse as her metaphor and Rosalie chose the rolling pin! Judith chose the men’s tie for “Envy” and Jen chose the ring for “Pity.”

Jane, who drew the card for “Sorrow,” knew immediately that the half-burnt candle was the perfect metaphor to describe the  recent loss of her beloved Maltese. With her kind permission, I share her poem below.

Sophie Jill

Once a flame was burning bright, so full of love and joy—
A candle of life, so sweet and strong
A white, fluffy baby girl, sharing my life with unconditional love
Remembering those kisses, stored in my heart
Knowing that each day is a gift, we savored each precious moment.

Then all at once, the candle of life was no more.
The sorrow I felt was overwhelming, and I cried out
to the heavens for help
As time has healed a little, I know that the tears I cry each day
are not tears of sorrow but tears of love
Sophie’s flame of life will live in my heart forever
and there is no doubt that her spirit is still with me
She is still in my arms, giving me kisses.

—Jane Craven Thomas

What a comfort poetry can be, giving us words for those things, like sorrow, that are so difficult to express! Susan Wooldridge makes a habit of labeling concrete items with metaphors. In fact, she and her children regularly go around the house with a roll of what she calls “word tickets” and affixes them to items they find in their drawers and cabinets such as an antique globe, a piece of driftwood, even an old pair of shoes.  What fun! Bored on a rainy Sunday afternoon? Try it yourself!

April also brings good news for my fellow writers. Ralph Earle, one of my favorite poetry teachers, won the 2015 Sable Books February Chapbook Contest for his poetry collection, “The Way the Rain Works.” Available now as a pre-sale from Sable Books, Richard Krawiec, writer, poet, and esteemed judge for the contest, had this to say about the book:  “This is a deeply felt book about a family in crisis that lives inside you and lends itself to multiple readings.” Just as I did, order your copy today by contacting Sable Books!

I was also thrilled to learn that two of my poems, which (not coincidentally!) originated from exercises in Ralph’s class last fall at Central Carolina Community College placed in contests sponsored by the N.C. Poetry Society. “Phalaenopsis” (which came from his prompt to write about an incident that happened to us during the previous week) won second place in the Mary Ruffin Poole Heritage Competition and “Napoleon and Antosia” (write a poem on anything and then use different line breaks on 2 versions) won second place in the Carol Bessent Hayman Poetry of Love Award. They will be published in the 2015 edition of Pinesong and I will read them at the May 30 meeting in Southern Pines.

Stay tuned for more poems. Next, I’ll share poems penned by Jen and Jane on smoke, unicorns, and runaway brides, all products of exercises on random phrases!