All posts by Cathryn Keefe O'Hare

About Cathryn Keefe O'Hare

I am on a ramble ... trying to find my way in this next stage of my life.

Next meeting is Oct. 21

(***Thanks to a comment from Mickey Coburn, I checked on where we will meet on the 21st since the book sale is held that day. We are to meet in the Fogg Room (spelling?). We can’t have any food or beverages, so please come well fed and hydrated!)

The Poets’ Forum starts its new year in September, like school children. Actually, I read somewhere recently that many of us, because of our formative years centered on the school calendar, also seem to begin anew in September. So, we had our first meeting of the new poetical year on September 16.  Jeannette Maes gave an excellent presentation on the new Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, and read all of her four books of poetry as research. There were various opinions about Smith’s style and meaning. Some of us really liked her (me!), others not so much.

Some of us brought poems by other poets we had recently discovered or re-discovered or just simply wanted to share. And, we also had gentle critiquing of member poems.

The food was great, the company superb, and the poetry lovely, mostly! See you all in October when Maggie Harney and Joan George will present a program with a spooky (maybe) theme.

Before I leave, here’s a poem that I brought to the meeting by poet Mary Karr that I saw in Poetry.

A Perfect Mess

        BY MARY KARR
              For David Freedman
I read somewhere

that if pedestrians didn’t break traffic laws to cross

Times Square whenever and by whatever means possible,

      the whole city

would stop, it would stop.

Cars would back up to Rhode Island,

an epic gridlock not even a cat

could thread through. It’s not law but the sprawl

of our separate wills that keeps us all flowing. Today I loved

the unprecedented gall

of the piano movers, shoving a roped-up baby grand

up Ninth Avenue before a thunderstorm.

They were a grim and hefty pair, cynical

as any day laborers. They knew what was coming,

the instrument white lacquered, the sky bulging black

as a bad water balloon and in one pinprick instant

it burst. A downpour like a fire hose.

For a few heartbeats, the whole city stalled,

paused, a heart thump, then it all went staccato.

And it was my pleasure to witness a not

insignificant miracle: in one instant every black

umbrella in Hell’s Kitchen opened on cue, everyone

still moving. It was a scene from an unwritten opera,

the sails of some vast armada.

And four old ladies interrupted their own slow progress

to accompany the piano movers.

each holding what might have once been

lace parasols over the grunting men. I passed next

the crowd of pastel ballerinas huddled

under the corner awning,

in line for an open call — stork-limbed, ankles

zigzagged with ribbon, a few passing a lit cigarette

around. The city feeds on beauty, starves

for it, breeds it. Coming home after midnight,

to my deserted block with its famously high

subway-rat count, I heard a tenor exhale pure

longing down the brick canyons, the steaming moon

opened its mouth to drink from on high ...
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Next meeting is Sept. 16

The North Shore Poets’ Forum will hold its  Back to Autumn meeting on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ish, Beverly Public Library. Please join us for an informal discussion of any new poet you’ve discovered over the summer (or before that, even). You may also bring a poem or two for gentle critique.

But, we must leave time to map out the rest of our year, so please be prepared with ideas for presentations that help us in our craft.

I look forward to a great meeting! And, until then, as is my custom, I leave you with a poem I like, this one by John Masefield, called Sea Fever.

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

 

 

And the winners are…

I apologize for not posting these sooner.  Life got away from me a bit. But, I am happy to announce the winners of the 2017 Naomi Cherkofsky contest. If possible, join us at the Open Mic, Beverly Public Library, April 22, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

  1. Otto Laske, Gloucester, Mass, for the poem “July Garden.”
  2. Jennifer Revill, Middleton, Mass, for the poem “Seven Turkeys.”
  3. Richard Samuel Davis, Byfield, Mass., for the poem “Magic Act.”

Honorable mentions, which were not ranked so are simply listed wily nily:

  1. Mark Hudson, Evanston, Ill, for the poem “Ostrich Eggs.”
  2. Linda Werner, Marblehead, Mass., for the poem “For Closure.”
  3. Sandra Thaxter, Newburyport, Mass., for the poem “Geronimo’s Bones.”
  4. Martha Perry, Rockport, Mass., for the poem “Allahu Akbar.”
  5. Jennifer Revill, Middleton, Mass., for the poem, “The Note We Found in Grandma’s Purse.”

 

Thank you to all who entered poems. It was a very good group and a tough competition. Congratulations to those who won!

Remember the Contest!

I do hope that many of you are writing your poems and planning which ones you will submit to the North Shore Poets’ Forum annual Naomi Cherkofsky Contest. The deadline is March 15 — less than two months! See rules under the tab “Poetry Contests” above.

The winners are invited to read their poems, and a few more, during our annual celebration  of National Poetry Month, this year to be held on April 22 at the Beverlly Public Library be, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

The Forum has been hosting this contest for, I don’t know, maybe 25 years. Naomi was one of the original members of the Forum who had a wonderful spirit and was generous in her encouragement of fellow poets, particularly the less confident (me!).

So, please sharpen your pencils and join us for a wonderful celebration of poetry.

To conclude this post, I am including a poem that I hope you will enjoy.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of  childhood
storming out to play through the broken dike.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should  consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to  sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear:  the darkness around us is deep.

 

NS Poets’ Forum Meets Saturday!

HI folks,

The new season at the North Shore Poets’ Forum gets started on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 11 a.m., in the Sohier Room of the Beverly Public Library, Essex Street, Beverly. Our eminent founder, Jeanette Maes, will present a program about the renowned poet Donald Hall. He is an elder statesman of poetry, at this point in his life, but still active. We look forward to Jeanette’s presentation.

Fall beckons, and next month will be filled with cooler air and traditional tales of ghostly spirits. Maryanne Anderson will present a program entitled “Hauntings,” on Oct. 22.

Please see Meetings and Events tab for our plans for the following months.

End of summer now, so I will leave you with some end of summer poems.

End of Summer

 

STANLEY KUNITZ

An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.

I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.

Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.

Already the iron door of the north
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.

 

 

XXXIX (from Last Poems)

A.E. Housman

When summer’s end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.

The weathercock at sunset
Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
That looked to Wales away
And saw the last of day.

From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.

And I with earth and nightfall
In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
And darkness hard at hand,
And the eye lost the land.

The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.

They came and were and are not
And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
That ever can ensue
Must now be worse and few.

So here’s an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer’s parting sighs,
And then the heart replies.

 

Today, May 12, is Limerick Day!

Our next Forum meeting is Saturday, May 21, and Jeanette Maes is presenting a program on Ella Wheeler Wilcox. We will meet in the Barnet Gallery, and we have been given special permission to have food. However, the library is having trouble with its water so we are advised to bring our own.

As usual, you are encouraged to bring copies of any poems for which you would appreciate gentle critiques.

In the meantime, I came across this in the New York Times today and thought you might enjoy it!

Back Story

(Stolen from the New York Times, 5/12/2016)

There was an old man in a tree, Whose whiskers were lovely to see; But the birds of the air, Pluck’d them perfectly bare, To make themselves nests on that tree.

That might sound a bit like Dr. Seuss, but it was written by the British painter and poet Edward Lear, who popularized limerick poems in his “Book of Nonsense” (1846).

He was born on this day in 1812, which is why today is Limerick Day. (CKO’s emphasis)

The limerick’s name has been traced to France, where an 18th-century Irish Brigade was serving.

The men returned with a song, “Will You Come Up to Limerick?” — an Irish city and county. The chorus may have developed into what became the limerick form, some scholars say.

Lear had been hired to paint an aristocrat’s private menagerie and he came up with his poems to amuse the children in the household. He said he got the idea from an old nursery rhyme.

The five-line poems have an AABBA rhyme scheme, meaning the first, second, and last lines rhyme, as do the third and fourth lines.

The first and second lines introduce a character, activity or setting, while the third and fourth lines are generally shorter to intensify the punch line.


So, just for fun, why not try one?

 

2016 Open Mic!

Wow, it has been a year since I’ve posted anything! Well, that’s life! Some years just run away from you.

But, onward! It is time to spring into Spring with another annual Open Mic and announcement of the Naomi Cherkofsky Poetry Contest winners. If we are lucky, one or two of the winners will be able to come to the Open Mic, too. In any case, we certainly hope you will join us for this lovely celebration of National Poetry Month with a few poems to share.

Date: Saturday, April 16th

Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Beverly Public Library, Essex Street, Beverly, Program Room

Light refreshments served.

Most importantly, bring poems!

The May meeting of the North Shore Poets’ Forum will be on the 21st, again at the Beverly  Public Library, at 11 a.m., but this time in the Barnett Gallery, which is lovely. Jeanette Maes will give a program on Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Please join us. After the program and some refreshments, we love to share our own poetry. For gentle critique, please provide 6 to 10 copies of your poem.

The Massachusetts State Poetry Society will meet May 7 at the West Branch of the Peabody Institute Library, 603 Lowell St., Peabody. Contact Jeanette Maes for more information, jeanettemaes@comcast.com, or Roberta Hung, robette02@yahoo.com

Now, for a little poem to  get you in the mood for even more great poetry! This one is by Eamon Grennan, who lives in New York state. I found this in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry column begun when he was Poet Laureate. It continues today and is available free online.

Up Against It
by Eamon Grennan

It’s the way they cannot understand the window
they buzz and buzz against, the bees that take
a wrong turn at my door and end up thus
in a drift at first of almost idle curiosity,
cruising the room until they find themselves
smack up against it and they cannot fathom how
the air has hardened and the world they know
with their eyes keeps out of reach as, stuck there
with all they want just in front of them, they must
fling their bodies against the one unalterable law
of things—this fact of glass—and can only go on
making the sound that tethers their electric
fury to what’s impossible, feeling the sting in it.