Category Archives: Peninsular Poetry

Cedar Cove Association looking to piggyback on Macomber pilot buzz

Members of the Cedar Cove Association were deflated by news that a pilot of the Hallmark Channel’s Cedar Cove series won’t be shot in Port Orchard, the town that inspired bestselling author and long-time Port Orchard resident Debbie Macomber.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. Macomber joined association members and city officials in late 2010 to try and woo producers with a tour of the town. Unfortunately for PO, Canada offers generous tax breaks for film production that the Hallmark Channel just couldn’t pass up. The film will be shot in Victoria, B.C.

“It was a disappointment that the series is not being filmed here in Port Orchard,” said Cindy Lucarelli, CCA executive director and a city councilwoman. “CCA did work with Debbie and the producers to try to make that a reality, but financially it did not turn out to be a viable option. On the other hand, we are grateful that the plan for the series is now very nearly a reality!”

Take comfort, Port Orchard. The Hallmark Channel thinks you look like Victoria. … I wonder where they’d film a movie about Bremerton.

The association is trying to figure out how to capitalize on the buzz around the pilot, due out in late 2012. Lucarelli says it’s likely that the movie would premier at the Dragonfly Cinema in downtown PO, since three other made-for-TV movies based on Macomber’s books premiered here in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively. The premier would likely be part of on the city’s Festival of Chimes & Lights, which has grown to be a huge event.

Lucarelli said the association also is looking at a 2013 summer event, similar to but shorter than the 2009 Cedar Cove Days, when the town got into character as itself. The association is looking for a major sponsor. Unlike the earlier five-day event, Cedar Cove Days II, probably would be held over a long weekend.

If you are a fan of the Cedar Cove books, which character do you relate to the most? Which character would you like to play if a Cedar Cove Days happens again? Who do you think would be a good fit for other characters?

Peninsular Poetry: “Against Gregariousness”

This is an occasion feature on Peninsular Thinking during April, which is National Poetry Month. I’ve been posting snippets and links to the complete text of poems that randomly strike my fancy, drawing mostly on the Poetry Foundation’s website. I realized today that we are rapidly running out of NPM (where did April go?), so I’d better get busy.

Here’s a poem by Clive James (1939 – ), an Australian writer, who “Like most writers who work hard at putting sentences together in proper paragraphs, I hate seeing bits and pieces being torn loose …” So, sorry about taking a snippet from your wonderfully descriptive poem about ocean life (and all it represents in our psyches), Mr. James, but I don’t want to violate any copyrights. I encourage readers to click on the link to read the whole poem … especially the end, which I totally relate to on many days, feeling rather lobsterish.

Against Gregariousness – By Clive James

The krill, as singletons almost not there
But en masse like a cloud of diamond dust
Against the sunlit flood of their ballroom ceiling,
Are scooped up by the basking shark’s dragline
Or sucked in through the whale’s drapes of baleen—
A galaxy absorbed into a boudoir …

Make your bones in a shark family if you can.
If not, be tricky to locate for sheer
Translucence, a slick blip that will become—
Beyond the daisycutter beaks and jaws—
A lobster fortified with jutting eaves
Of glazed tile, like the castle at Nagoya
Hoisted around by jacks and cranes, an awkward
Mouthful like a crushed car. That being done,
Crawl backwards down a hole and don’t come out.

From the March 2011 edition of Poetry Magazine

Peninsular Poetry: Poems for Easter

This is an occasional feature for National Poetry month, with snippets of poems I’ve picked at random, and links to the full text at the Poetry Foundation, Chris Henry, reporter

Easter Wings, by Welsh poet George Herbert (1593-1633), is an example of a “shape poem.” Herbert often wrote about religion and the ongoing struggle between faith and doubt. This poem, if you read to the conclusion, ends on an optimistic note.

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore:
With thee
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me. …

This poem, Easter (@2011) by Jill Alexander Essbaum, talks bout the disconnect the poet feels between the promise of Easter and the tangible reality of death. She misses her late loved ones and friends.

is my season
of defeat.

Though all
is green

and death
is done,

I feel alone.
As if the stone

rolled off
from the head

of the tomb
is lodged

in the doorframe
of my room …”

And here’s one that’s only sideways related to Easter, by contemporary poet Trish Dugger, who compares hearts to fragile Easter eggs.

Spare Parts

We barge out of the womb
with two of them: eyes, ears,

arms, hands, legs, feet.
Only one heart. Not a good

plan. God should know we
need at least a dozen,

a baker’s dozen of hearts.
They break like Easter eggs …

Here’s one more by D. Nurkse, whose parents escaped Nazi Europe during World War II. It’s about some women who have to work on Easter, at least part of the day.

Excelsior Fashion Products, Easter

… each sips
a private pint, all sitting
in the narrow room with our backs
to the center, each facing
his work—router, stain tray,
buffing wheel, drill press—
and with that sweet taste echoing
in our bones, we watch our hands
make what they always made
—rosewood handles—but now
we smile in delighted surprise …

I and a handful of my colleagues will be working on Easter, without our private pints alas.

Peninsular Poetry: Language evolving at light speed

T. S. Eliot wasn’t the only poet inspired by the month of April (now observed as National Poetry Month). Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) set his “Canterbury Tales” in that month with “shoures soote” (sweet showers).

In the introduction of the lengthy poem, Chaucer sets the stage. A group of pilgrims (palmeres) are heading to the shrine of the martyr Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. The leader proposes that along the way, they will tell tales to pass the time, since this was way before iPods and in-dash DVD players.

The poem, written in Middle English (1100-1500) — not to be confused with Old English (5th through 11th Centuries) — may as well be in another language.

“Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, …

So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages,
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kouthe in sondry londes …”

Here’s the translation of some of the words from my handy “The Major Poets: English and American”: When that (when), soote (sweet), veyne (vein, sap vessel), swich licour (such liquid), of which vertu (by the power of which), holt (wood), croppes (shoots), foweles (birds), seken (seek), strondes (shores), ferne hawles kouthe (distant shrines known). One I found in an online Middle English dictionary, Thanne longen (now and then long). A couple I couldn’t translate: goon on (go on?), hir courages (???).

Chaucer’s poem shows how language evolves over time. Now, imagine dropping Mr. Chaucer into the year 2011, when new words are cropping up daily thanks to instant and constant communication on the Internet, among other factors.

Mirriam Webster seeks to capture this process in its New Words and Slang Open Dictionary

Kerfuffle (first known use, 1946) is positively ancient, compared to most of the entries. It means disturbance, fuss, and is said to derive from “an alteration of carfuffle, from Scots car – (probably from Scottish Gaelic cearr wrong, awkward) + fuffle to become disheveled.”

I’m eagerly awaiting my first legitimate chance to use the word “kerfuffle.”

Other, more recent entries include:
pixely (adjective): showing pixels; “I’ve enlarged this photo, but it looks quite pixely.”; March 29, 2011 anonmous)

earworm (noun): a catchy tune that gets stuck in your mind even after you might like it to be gone; submitted by: Chris L. from Iowa on Mar. 26, 2011 16:08

friend farming (noun) : the practice of adding many contacts (as on Facebook) by using a list of another person’s friends; submitted by Kevin from Illinois on Mar. 10, 2011 15:20

snarcasm (noun) : sarcasm; submitted by: Gwen Gadaire from Florida on Feb. 12, 2011 08:38

quakami (noun): Combination of earthQUAKe And tsunAMI; “Japan is still reeling from the quakami that struck that nation a week ago.”; Submitted by: Ray Zelko from Ohio on Mar. 28 2011 11:27

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rae Armantrout, whose work has been described as “little thought-bombs detonating in the mind long after the first reading,” has written a poem based on the word scumble: (sk m b l)
tr.v. scum·bled, scum·bling, scum·bles
1. To soften the colors or outlines of (a painting or drawing) by covering with a film of opaque or semiopaque color or by rubbing.
2. To blur the outlines of: a writer who scumbled the line that divides history and fiction.

Scumble by Rae Armantrout
What if I were turned on by seemingly innocent words such as “scumble,” “pinky,”
or “extrapolate?”

What if I maneuvered conversation in the hope that others would pronounce these

Perhaps the excitement would come from the way the other person touched them
lightly and carelessly with his tongue.

What if “of” were such a hot button?

“Scumble of bushes.”

What if there were a hidden pleasure
in calling one thing
by another’s name?

Peninsular Poetry: fowl play

Peninsular Poetry is an occasional feature on this blog marking April as National Poetry Month.

We’ve written a lot about chickens here at the Kitsap Sun.

Turns out feathered fowl are popular topics with poets as well.

Twentieth Century poet Elizabeth Bishop, 1911 – 1979, talks about what the cock’s crow has meant throughout the ages in her lengthy poem, “Roosters.” Below is a snippet, and here’s the audio link.

“At four o’clock
in the gun-metal blue dark
we hear the first crow of the first cock

just below
the gun-metal blue window
and immediately there is an echo

off in the distance,
then one from the backyard fence,
then one, with horrible insistence,

grates like a wet match
from the broccoli patch,
flares, and all over town begins to catch. …”

I like Bishop’s use of language, but I think the poem could have been more concise.

Bantams in the Pine Woods” by Wallace Stevens (1879 – 1955), I would say, is a good example of onomatopoeia, the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it. (Dang, I knew that college education would come in handy some day.) Listen to the poem to get the most mileage from it.

Here is a snippet:

“Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan
Of tan with henna hackles, halt!”

Does Stevens go over the top? You be the judge.

William Carlos Williams’ Red Wheelbarrow is a widely familiar poem. Williams lived from 1883 to 1963. The absence of capital letters seems to have been trendy.

“so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Williams’ “Red Wheelbarrow” is so familiar it’s become fodder for parody.

Here’s one by Jacob T.

Green Wagon

Nothings really special


the empty green


spotted with red


near the scrap


Or this, by Jay Scott

Homeland Security Advisory System
nothing depends

a red seal

phrases of high

on the blue
website ”

Oh, come on, folks, we can do better. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to write your own parody of “The Red Wheelbarrow.” Extra points if it has a local (Kitsap) angle.

Peninsular Poetry: “April is the cruelest month …”

April is National Poetry Month and has been since 1996. It is also National Financial Literacy Month, National Grilled Cheese month and probably a whole bunch of other national-this-or-that months.

I’m all for financial literacy and grilled cheese, but I’m going to focus on the celebration of poetry.

I’d forgotten how much I like poetry ’til I started poking around for this and upcoming posts that you’ll see every now and then throughout April. Even if I don’t entirely understand the meaning or intent — as with T.S. Eliot‘s The Waste Land, whence the “cruelest month” phrase emanates — I like to see words pushed outside their comfort zones or used just for the pure fun of they way they sound. And I like that poems can say something different to different people and still be valid all around.

Carl Sandburg (1878-1976) defines poetry as, “a pack-sack of invisible keepsakes. Poetry is a sky dark with a wild-duck migration. Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.”

Over the next month, I hope to share with you a random sampling of poems (well-known and obscure, old, really old and contemporary). I invite commentary, and if you’re a poet yourself, feel free to post your work in the comment section. If it doesn’t fit there, e-mail it to me and I’ll consider it for inclusion in a blog post.

One note: Because this blog is a part of the Kitsap Sun, we probably ought to agree to keep it all PG13, which is why a poem like James Dickey’s Cherry Log Road (one of my all time favorites, I must confess) might fly, while a poem on the order of “a 340 dollar horse and a hundred dollar whore” by Charles Bukowski may be considered outside the pale of good taste. I’ll refrain from linking to it, but I did get a kick out of reading it. Likewise Bukowski’s “I wanted to overthrow the government, but all I brought down was somebody’s wife.”

So, about The Wasteland, it probably rates right up there with Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” as one of the most studied and yet stubbornly obscure poems an undergrad literature major, as I was, is bound to encounter. I studied Eliot in more than one class, and I still don’t know what the heck either poem means. But they speak to me somehow.

The Wasteland begins:
“April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”

Well, I’m down with that. Spring is not my favorite time of year. It’s such a big tease.

The poem doesn’t get any cheerier.

“Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.”

There are parts that are sad, yet humorous, and oh so human. Like a discussion in a pub on which Eliot seems to eavesdrop:

“When Lil’s husband got demobbed, I said—
I didn’t mince my words, I said to her myself,
Now Albert’s coming back, make yourself a bit smart.
He’ll want to know what you done with that money he gave you
To get yourself some teeth. He did, I was there.”

And then, I’m a sucker for vivid description, like:

“The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank.”


“A rat crept softly through the vegetation
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank …”

The Wasteland is a fairly lengthy poem. If you want a shorter example of T.S. Eliot, try “Aunt Helen.” It’s much shorter, but also takes a wry view of death.