Monday Musings

Still thinking about poetry after a couple of sessions with an old poetry anthology, skipping here and there to “old favorites,” noting the comments scribbled in the margins of the poems.

I wrote about the sound and then the structure of poetry; today I want to put the two together to discuss meaning. Poems are not merely lyrical expressions of ecstasy that sound good. They must deal with the relationship of the poet to the world.  Indeed, poetry is something that connects the world and man, “trap[ping] Heaven and Earth in a cage of form.” (LuChi) Form refers to meaningful shape or structure, a shape to which our emotions respond.

In order for poetry to be a “means to a meaning, “(Ezra Pound), it must have an appropriate form.  Good poetry takes ordinary words and places them in the poem in an arrangement that signifies something “more.” Pound also writes that every word is “charged with meaning.” Placed within the form of the poem, the same ordinary words will strike differently, but directly at the reader’s emotions. If the poet changes the sound or structure of the poem, he changes the meaning.  The meanings and emotions of love are enhanced by both the sound and structure traditional to the sonnet.

Blending sound and form (or structure) are two of the poet’s tools which he uses to enhance both meaning and draw out emotion. Taking a “sound check” of a poem and deciphering its structure can only enhance one’s enjoyment of a poem.


Sunday (Evening) Post

Sunday afternoon brought a meeting of the Powerful Women Readers book group to Rae’s for white chili and a lovely afternoon. Eleven women were present, and the book discussion was perhaps the best we have had so far.  Nancy was the only one who had read Fannie Flagg’s The Whole Town is Talking which became a lot more appealing when she informed us the townspeople were talking in the town’s cemetery, reminiscent of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.  Several Women were interested in ordering the book from the library. Rae discussed Leon Hale’s Paper Hero with Janet’s help.  Both had read the book as a selection for the library’s Third Tuesday Book Club. Ann finished the discussion with a lecture on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, including general comments on 1984 by George Orwell and other books that warned what could happen in the future–which is now! Several women had read the book and agreed that the story was basically a tragedy, one which we, as the “future” inhabitants of this planet had better heed. Ann and several of us, however, who have grandchildren or are around young people, pointed out that today’s youth transmit a ray of hope for the future, for they are entering today’s  Brave New World with confidence and compassion.

Finished this past week:  One Damned Thing After Another and Just Like Jesus, which I’ll review soon.

Continuing to Read: Racing in the Rain (I’ve laid this aside for a while and want to get back to it.)

Started: Small Admissions which is a light, very amusing read.

Today will be clean up and catch up day. Later this afternoon, I’ll post Monday Musings instead of Monday Morning Musings.  That first cup of coffee is calling me.

TEXTBOOK by Amy Krause Rosenthal: A Review

This unusual (for lack of a better name) book is, as the front cover says, “not exactly a memoir”, but “a book about…being alive.”  Published in 2016 ten years after Rosenthal’s Ordinary Life, it is a mix of the author’s thoughts, musings, and feelings on “things” and life in general. The “text” in Textbook, the title, has multiple meanings.  The reader can actually send a text to the author, it is a textbook divided into nine different disciplines from “Geography to ” “Language Arts,” and it often has pictures of texts the author has received.  Sometimes there is only one sentence on a page; sometimes the page is blank, presumably to allow the reader to pause and think about what was just shown or written.  Sometimes the text is a record of thoughts that struck Rosenthal on a facsimile/picture as follows:

In curator style, the author has aligned on the page,

“Existential Napkin

ink printed on a disposable napkin

dispensed at a local restaurant, 1999”

A picture of the napkin where Rosenthal has written follows,

“Aren’t we just trying to leave one, good, lasting thing behind?”


And hasn’t the author written one, unique textbook here?

Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday Teaser is a meme I first heard about on sjhigbee’s blog Brainfluff.  I’m not sure if she started it or got involved through someone else’s blog, but it’s lots of fun, and I have adapted it here for PWR members and their friends.

Take a book you’re currently reading and randomly copy a couple of sentences or a paragraph, being sure not to include any spoilers. The idea is to tempt us to read the same book you’re reading, so do not forget to list the title and author as well.

Here is mine for this Tuesday from One Damned Thing After Another, the first book in a time  travel series, “The Chronicles of St. Mary’s”, recommended by the aforementioned sjhigbee in her blog:

“She stepped outside, and I closed the door behind her.  Alone now, the familiar pod smell wrapped itself around me, the electrics, wet carpet, the toilet, the incinerator, a faint whiff of cabbage; awakening memories as painful as lemon juice in a paper cut.  Eau de pod; the most evocative smell in the world.

I eased myself into the seat and checked the console.  Everything seemed OK.

‘Initiate jump.’ And the world went white.”

Scroll all the way down, past the bio information, until you see “Leave a Reply” Click there and type in the box.

Monday Musings

Today’s musings are on the sound of poetry.  It was brought about when a new friend shared some of her “trivial” (her words) poetry which has definite appeal because of her mastery of using sound(s) to create poetic images and fun.

Taking a “sound check” of a poem may be a valuable exercise when evaluating poetry. A poem’s meaning is often conveyed by the sound of the words, simply as sounds, which eventually imbues and enhances the lines and phrases with meaning. For example, words that begin with the “bl” sound, swollen and bloated: blimp, blurb, blubber,  balloon.  Words that begin with “sn” have a certain sneakiness to them: snide, sneer, snake, snarl.  Certain vowel sounds convey brightness, where others are “dark.” Some consonants are harsh, where others seem “tender.” Onomatopoetic words  are words that carry meaning through sound like “buzz”, “whizz”, “bam!” In addition to these words and sounds that convey meaning directly through sound, others suggest meanings by association.

“Content is grey/And sleepiness too./They wear grey suede gloves/When touching you…”The phrase ” “grey suede gloves” sounds like the tactile experience one would have if grey suede glove-covered fingers were to touch or stroke his/her skin.  In the lines, “The sound of black is/Boom! Boom! Boom!/Echoing in/An empty room,” the repeated Booms! have an echo-like quality that is expressed through the repetition of the double o sound and is easy to imagine in a darkened, empty room.  It has a hollowness and eeriness that one would experience in such a setting. These lines are from a children’s book of poetry titled Hailstones and Halibut Bones, one which has inspired every group of poets I’ve ever worked with, regardless of their age.

Sometimes jump rope rhymes and chanting games are so much fun simply because they sound like fun. Sometimes the beauty of poetry and the conveyance of a poem’s meaning has its origin in the sounds of words and phrases. I will be happy to tell my new friend that her poetry is not trivial at all, but conveys her emotion and meaning through the use of sounds.


I can’t believe it’s Sunday again! And January is almost gone as well.  My how time does fly.

What I finished this past week: The Jealous Kind by James Lee Burke (reviewed in post preceding this one) and Textbook by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, described as “not exactly a memoir”(will be reviewed this week)

Continuing to read:  Freeks by Amanda Hocking

Peeked into and read a chapter or two: Just One Damned Thing After Another, the first book in the “Chronicles of St. Mary’s” series by Jodi Taylor, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahri, and Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, all of which I want to finish, for sure.

What I watched: One episode of “Bull,” Two new season episodes of “This is Us” and a couple of “To Tell the Truths”.

School is well underway and clicking right along. The Reading Improvement class for kids will be at it’s midway point this coming Wednesday, and I will have to decide whether to offer it again in March and April or to wait and offer it this summer, which I’m sure will happen.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

PWR (Powerful Women Readers, our on-line book group) meets here  a week from today, and we will discuss the three assigned books (Members are asked to read one of the three.), Fannie Flagg’s The Whole Town’s Talking, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, or local writer, Leon Hale’s Paper Hero.  I have read two of the three and am hoping someone will bring a copy of Fannie Flagg to loan Sunday. There will be a door prize from a local boutique. Contact Rae if you can help with the refreshments.

And, as Porky Pig always said, “That’s All Folks!”


“There was a time in my life when I woke every morning with fear and anxiety and didn’t know why.  For me, fear was a given I factored into the events of the day, like a pebble that never leaves your shoe.  In retrospect, an adult might call that a form of courage. If so, it wasn’t much fun.”

These are the opening lines of James Lee Burke’s novel, the second in the Holland Family Series (The first was Wayfaring Stranger, set in and just after WWII).  The Jealous Kind was published in 2016.  It is a great read, a bit gritty and graphic at times (Someone is always getting beat up or worse, often caused by nothing more than teen angst, miscommunication, or deliberate misunderstanding, just for the hell of it.) but worth investing your reading time in.

We’ve got the good guys, Aaron and Valerie (and sometimes Saber, Aaron’s best friend) pitted against the bad guys; Grant, well-to-do, but not living up to his father’s expectations and psychopathic Vince, son of the Mafia-connected Atlas family.

Don’t think for a moment this is a Young Adult novel, for the parents and all their problems and prejudices which formed them as they lived through in the war years from the previous novel are present and are “visited upon” the next generation.

As main characters, and the Romeo and Juliet of this novel, Aaron and Valerie are well drawn as they try to figure out the complexities of life in the fifties. Saber is at the same time the most likable and most frustrating character Burke develops, and Aaron’s loyalty to him borders on heroic.

To keep the twists and turns coming, Aaron’s Uncle (on his father’s side) has his own mob contacts  which gives Aaron some leverage against Vince and his family.  Aaron’s father, befuddled but totally immersed in true integrity, always does and encourages Aaron to ” do the right thing.” He still believes good will win over evil, but there are times when Aaron has his doubts about that.  The relationships between the teenagers and their respective parents is well-drawn, believable, and explores the love hate relationship between children and parents. The cops, who represent the Law of the fifties are well-drawn as well.  There are the clean cops, who might not always have been clean, but want to make up for it now, and the dirty cops who will never want to be clean–all make appearances.  Learning who to trust and who is untrustworthy is a lesson Aaron has to learn.  Fortunately,like his dad, he has a shrewd ability to judge a man’s character.

All of this is accompanied by plot twists and turns, and  kept this reader turning the pages, leaving  her waiting for the next book in Burke’s planned trilogy.