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Last Spring

Fill yourself up with the forsythias

and when the lilacs flower, stir them in too

with your blood and happiness and wretchedness,

the dark ground that seems to come with you.

 

Sluggish days. All obstacles overcome.

And if you say: ending or beginning, who knows,

then maybe – just maybe – the hours will carry you

into June, when the roses blow.

 

                          ~ Gottfried Benn

 

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" by John William Waterhouse, 1909

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may” by John William Waterhouse, 1909

A Few Moments

Herself, a day, an hour ago; and herself now. For we have every one of us felt how a very few minutes of the months and years called life, will sometimes suffice to place all time past and future in an entirely new light; will make us see the vanity or the criminality of the by-gone, and so change the aspect of the coming time that we look with loathing on the very thing we have most desired. A few moments may change our character for life, by giving a totally different direction to our aims and energies.

 

~ From Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell, 1848

 

"The Seamstress" by Joseph DeCamp, 1916

“The Seamstress” by Joseph DeCamp, 1916

The 2014 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books begins tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. and continues through Sunday at 5:00 p.m. at the University of Southern California.

The Festival is a wonderful opportunity to mingle with hundreds of authors, attend panel discussions with bestselling novelists and industry experts on writing and the publishing business, and enjoy live music, visual art, and cultural entertainment by some of the world’s most creative and celebrated artists.

For a full list of authors and panels featured at this year’s event and to review the program schedule, visit the website at http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks.

 

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Gardens are also good places

to sulk. You pass beds of

spiky voodoo lilies

and trip over the roots

of a sweet gum tree,

in search of medieval

plants whose leaves,

when they drop off

turn into birds

if they fall on land,

and colored carp if they

plop into water.

 

Suddenly the archetypal

human desire for peace

with every other species

wells up in you. The lion

and the lamb cuddling up.

The snake and the snail, kissing.

Even the prick of the thistle,

queen of the weeds, revives

your secret belief

in perpetual spring,

your faith that for every hurt

there is a leaf to cure it.

 

~ Amy Gerstler from Bitter Angel (New York: North Point Press, 1990)

 

Marcus Stone, 1900

Marcus Stone, 1900

The 8th Annual Leatherby Libraries Book Sale at Chapman University will be held this year on April 10 and April 11. Hundreds of books on a variety of subjects ranging from anthropology to zoology will be on sale for one dollar each.

Proceeds from the book sale make it possible for the library to purchase more books and support relevant programming and services offered by the library throughout the academic year.

Cash, checks, and credit cards will be accepted, and bags and boxes will be provided for purchases. Refreshments will also be available during the two-day sale.

This is a terrific opportunity to supplement personal book collections while supporting the university library. For more information, visit http://www1.chapman.edu/library/aboutus/events-2014-04-10-BookSale.pdf.

 

campus-memorial-masthead

April is National Poetry Writing Month, also known as NaPoWriMo, an annual creative writing event that challenges participants to write a new poem each day from April 1 through April 30. NaPoWriMo coincides with National Poetry Month, which is celebrated annually in America and Canada.

The project was founded by Maureen Thorson in 2003 and modeled after NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November. Since its inception, the number of registered participants has grown steadily every year, and many writers’ organizations coordinate NaPoWriMo activities.

Many of us in Chapman University’s MFA program have impending thesis deadlines, and the NaPoWriMo challenge gives poetry students the perfect opportunity and support to complete this last critical component of the degree requirements.

For a comprehensive list of FAQs and guidelines, visit the website at http://www.napowrimo.net.

Have fun, and good luck!

 

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Late March

Saturday morning in late March.

I was alone and took a long walk,

though I also carried a book

of the Alone, which companioned me.

 

The day was clear, unnaturally clear,

like a freshly wiped pane of glass,

a window over the water,

and blue, preternaturally blue,

like the sky in a Magritte painting,

and cold, vividly cold, so that

you could clap your hands and remember

winter, which had left a few moments ago –

if you strained you could almost see it

disappearing over the hills in a black parka.

Spring was coming but hadn’t arrived yet. 

………………………………………………………………………… 

I walked down to the pier to watch

the launching of a passenger ship.

Ice had broken up on the river

and the water rippled smoothly in blue light.

The moon was a faint smudge

in the clouds, a brushstroke, an afterthought

in the vacant mind of the sky. 

…………………………………………………………………………

Down at the water, the queenly ship

started moving away from the pier.

Banners fluttered.

The passengers clustered at the rails on deck.

I stood with the people on shore and waved

goodbye to the travelers.

Some were jubilant;

others were broken-hearted.

I have always been both.

 

Suddenly, a great cry went up.

The ship set sail for the horizon

and rumbled into the future

but the cry persisted

and cut the air

like an iron bell ringing

in an empty church.

I looked around the pier

but everyone else was gone

and I was left alone

to peer into the ghostly distance.

I had no idea where that ship was going

but I felt lucky to see it off

and bereft when it disappeared.

 

~ From “Late March” by Edward Hirsch

 

"Bootssteg auf der Herreninsel im Chiemsee" by Wilhelm Trübner, 1874

“Bootssteg auf der Herreninsel im Chiemsee” by Wilhelm Trübner, 1874

 

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