Thursday, July 27, 2017

Spending the Summer Outside

For this series of posts, we Teaching Authors are sharing the views from our summer workplaces. Bobbi,  Carmela, and Esther have already posted about their locations. I’m spending most of my time at home. During a recent local weather forecast, I heard that the longest we’ve gone without rain so far this summer in Southeastern Wisconsin is three days. Everything is really green!

The flowers on our front hill are thriving!
Between thunderstorms and neighborhood construction projects (including our own new roof), it’s been hard to find quiet time. But in spite of noise and dust, I’m trying to write outside whenever I can.

In the backyard, I raise monarchs in a mosquito net tent and grow milkweed in pots.
Reading outside is a pleasure, too. I’ve been studying The Granite Pail: The Selected Poems of Lorine Niedecker. Niedecker’s poetry focuses on nature, especially around her Wisconsin home. Here are three of my favorites from that collection:


Get a load
         of April’s
fabulous 
frog rattle—
lowland freight cars
in the night


bee in milkweed flower

Poet’s work 
Grandfather
  advised me:
Learn a trade 
I learned
  to sit at desk
and condense 
No layoff
  from this
condensery


monarch butterfly, just released from the backyard tent

For best work
you ought to put forth
some effort
to stand
in north woods
among birch


Rosy, my backyard companion, in my favorite spot
Inspired by Niedecker’s approach to structure, I’m playing around with this draft:

wet notebook—
wind tips
leaf pockets 
last night’s rain falls
again

Where are you working?

Happy summer, all! Happy Poetry Friday! Today’s Roundup is at A Word Edgewise.

JoAnn Early Macken



21 comments:

Tabatha said...

Niedecker's "condensery" poem made an impression on me the first time I read it a few years ago. What a master of condensing!
I'm wowwed by your monarchs. No wonder you want to write outside!

Linda B said...

We had good rain in the spring, but little until a couple of days ago, so heavenly. I envy you your rain, love your "wet notebook". Someone recently spoke of taking a "forest bath", so I'm connecting to that "north woods/among birch". Beautiful! I love seeing all about your monarchs, JoAnn.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Tabatha, the first Niedecker poem I read was the birches one. I clipped it from a magazine & taped it on my wall. Yes, I love "condensery"!

Linda, we're finally expecting a sunny week. Even though we haven't had to water much so far, I'm looking forward to clear skies!

Brenda Harsham said...

I love this glimpse into your beautiful life. I love that you are saving monarchs. How did you get started doing that?

Mitchell Linda said...

Ah, a wet notebook....wet with ink, ideas...maybe even raindrops if in Wisconsin. I took note of the name and title of the book. The words are exquisite. Thank you for sharing.

Linda said...

Niedecker is new to me. Thanks for sharing her work. As for the weather, we've had a lot of rainy days here. We were fortunate to have 2 very nice days this week, but the heavy rain and thunderstorms are back. A good weekend to stay inside and write. : )

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thank you, Brenda! About 8 years ago, I found a milkweed plant in our yard. I tried to dig it up to move it, but I broke the root, so I put the plant in water in the kitchen to see if the root would grow. A few days later, I found a tiny caterpillar on a leaf. Since then, I've raised them in the backyard every summer--except last year, when I found only 3 caterpillars & gave them to our librarian to display. The milkweed in the yard keeps spreading, so I have a decent supply. I've also had good luck starting milkweed plants in pots from seeds I collect in the fall & refrigerate over the winter. If you're interested, a good comprehensive site to check out is Monarch Watch: http://www.monarchwatch.org/ I've got more resources on my web site: http://www.joannmacken.com/contact.htm. Write to me if you have questions: JoAnn@joannmacken.com

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Linda, yes, definitely raindrops! I'm glad you enjoyed the poems.

Linda, good luck writing inside. Hope you're not interrupted by any more thunderstorms!

Donna Smith said...

I don't write outside enough. Must do that.
This format is interesting. It isn't syllabic exactly, but somewhat.
Your companion looks much like mine, who also finds the "best spot" - mine.
Love the "last night's rain falls again" when the wind tips the pocket!

Sandy Brehl said...

Love the post, JoAnne, and the poems. is that gorgeous front yard the same steep slope on which you executed the tumbling maneuver last year?

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Donna, the poem started as a haiku and rearranged itself into the draft you see. Yes, Rosy has a knack for picking the spot I had my eye on. Must be a canine talent!

Sandy, yes, that hill is the one that reintroduced me to gravity when I was weeding a while back. You have a good memory!

Carol said...

Your yard is gorgeous! I love this:
For best work
you ought to put forth
some effort
to stand
in north woods
among birch

I definitely write better and live better when I'm spending time outside.

And I love your "wet notebook." Poetry helps me see the world in whole new ways!

Kay said...

Love that riot of flowers you have in view! It is so lush. Niedecker's poetry is new to me. I love that second one about condensery. It is so hard to do well, but so satisfying to get it in the end.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Carol, spending time outside--any time of year--helps me write & live better, too.

Kay, we established that garden on our front hill in stages, starting at the top, at least ten years ago because it's so steep that it was hard to mow. Every year, something different takes over. This year, it's monarda. The bees are happy! I agree about "condensery"--difficult but worth the effort.

Ruth said...

Thank you for this lovely post!

Violet Nesdoly said...

Another nature poet to explore. Thank you, Joanne, and for these glimpses into your summer!

Carlie said...

Oh wow. I love these. I have never heard of this poet. Thank you for the introduction. The condensory knocked my socks off....but I was born in a northern forest and man, does that one call too!

Yours is also lovely.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks again, everyone! I'm glad you enjoyed the poems. Happy reading & writing!

Carla Killough McClafferty said...

JoAnn, how nice to see the pics of your butterflies. Thanks for doing this! Carla

Jone MacCulloch said...

Thank you for introducing me to a new poet. I am going to check her work out. I love seeing the butterfly prgression.

michelle kogan said...

Beautiful poem you are working on JoAnn, as are your flowers on the hill! I've been working inside and outside in my forest-filled milkweed garden, amongst the bees, bunnies, butterflies, and milkweed beetles.