Friday, July 11, 2014

It's 1979 - a poem crafted from the Jack Powers ISI workshop 2014 @cwpfairfield @fairfield @writingproject #CLMOOC

For the last four years, Joel Barlowe high school teacher, CWP-Fairfield fellow, and Connecticut poet, Jack Powers, has worked with our teachers and youth to highlight the importance of reading as writers. His demonstration is a guaranteed success, and after his 90 minutes everyone in the room has three new poems to work with. He amazes me, however, because his talents are out of this world yet he never reads his own stuff. I asked him today why this was and he said, "I've got my thing going. Nothing makes me happier than helping others to get their thing going."

As part of his workshop he uses a poem called "Homestead Park" (author?) as a model of beginning with a date and capturing a time from our youth. He works with teachers to discuss ideas from the poem that can be use (e.g., memories, childhood, a moment), but also asks his audience to make writerly noticings of structure, language, syntax, and word choice. He encourages teachers to syncopate with the base of the poem and to do their own thing from there. Here's my draft:

                      Loch Lebanon

It's 1979. My grandfather
sits at the bar with a camel
between missing fingers
and watches his wife rest
purple feet.  We want
to go swimming in
the lake where the motor
boats pull skiers like kites
and make Saturn's rings
that roll to the shore.
Because I am 7,
I notice his plaid shorts
covering pale legs with
only a few hairs and that
his glasses are thick like
the eyes of a grasshopper.
He inhales smoke and
exhales a punchline
of a dirty joke told to
my mother who
folds beach towels and
laughs. The sky is blue
with pink hints of Maude
and I think about the pigs
he's killed with butcher
knives before he waved
good bye and headed home.
Because I am only seven
the memories aren's so complex.
My sisters have short hair
and poppy-seed freckles.
They straddle the arms of my
grandmother's chair and rest
their heads on her shoulders.
My dad fishes for bullheads
on the dock and drinks
Milwaukee's Best where
it's quiet and he can be alone.
In my head, the universe belongs
to me. Yet, today, the weekend,
belongs to all of us
feeling so alive.

1 comment:

  1. Bryan: I just stumbled upon this. Great poem. "His glasses are thick like the eyes of a grasshopper." Wow! Robert Gibb wrote "Homestead Park" It's a poem that keeps on giving. I guess you don't need a writing group, but you're welcome any time. I'm stealing this picture for my new website at Thanks.