Poem: Ode to Cappy

Ode to Cappy

Another soul slipped through the crack today.
Gone, gone, gone
From this river, he will be,
Never again to trawl the sea.

Last summer he pulled in his last net,
He hauled up his last catch,
And he shucked his last scallop shell.
He never threw the little ones back.

Cappy caught the last fishing boat today, ending the pain
But I suspect if you asked him where he was going
He’d have said,
I’m going straight to hell, cracking a toothless smile.

I remember the last time I saw him
That smile stretched as wide as the sea
Acting like an eccentric fisherman
However, that might be.

Cappy had a soft spot, much like a tender, tiny scallop
The ones he never threw back,
Those were the most precious
He would crow, and of course he would know.

We saw an angel in the clouds today
Not long after Cappy’s name came up in conversation
He’s still hanging on to the life raft you said
Not ready to be set free.

Cappy was of the river and the sea
And they were too, of Cappy
He knew every river inlet intimately
He lived to roam the sea.

I took a picture of that angel cloud
I didn’t know why when.
Not long after I dropped you off, the word came
Light a candle for Tommy, he has passed.

Some folks will say
This river will never be the same without Cappy
I cannot help
But agree.

Poet’s note: This piece was written March 9, 2017 to an old friend who passed quietly away from cancer. Studying a variety of poetic forms in graduate poetry workshop at Salem State University, elegies are one of the many poetic forms we’ve read and some have written for class. I’m working on a series of 8 – 10 poems for my final in my class, as this piece isn’t to be focused in that collection, I wanted to share it here on my blog. I do have another elegy that I do plan to include in my final collection.

Book Review: Poems in the Manner Of

As a lover of poetry and a graduate student in the English – Writing program at Salem State University, I have not only found Poems in the Manner Of, to be fun and interesting to read; I have also found it useful for my class.

I am currently enrolled in a poetry workshop at SSU, reading some of the poets whose work David Lehman emulates and pays homage to.

A workshop is a great opportunity to explore different styles and be inspired by the works of others to sometimes create a piece based on another poet’s topics, ideas and styles and make it all our own.

Given this, Lehman provides plenty of inspiration as well as insight to the poets, which is invaluable to the student of poetry.

Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats, Rilke, William Carlos Williams, Wordsworth, Neruda, Virginia Woolf, W.H. Auden, and Charles Bukowski are among the poets who are featured in Lehman’s Poems in the Manner Of

This is a great volume for poetry lovers, poetry students and people just starting to appreciate the vast world of poetry.

On Writing: Why Prewriting Matters

deskIn the past, my writing style typically leaves out the all important first stage of writing—pre-writing.  When I write, I tend to write and then rewrite but rarely ever do I engage in pre-writing.

Needless to say, when I started taking creative writing classes at UMass Amherst UWW, I learned that I was cutting out an integral part of the writing process. Jumping right into the writing phase works if you know what you are going to write about, but when you’re stuck pre-writing frees up space and opens up the creative channels.

Reading Chapter 1 of Connie Griffin’s text, To Tell The Truth in my Magazine Writing class gave me a keener understanding of how to use pre-writing as a strategy to break free from writer’s block. The creative process needs the freedom to be expressive, and pre-writing can be seen as a fun exercise in letting go, while also trusting one’s subconscious in a “nonjudgmental and forgiving” way. (p. 5)

The Getting Started (p. 6 – 7) section in Chapter 1, helped me to understand that pre-writing is comparable to a dancer warming up with exercise and practice, or a painter sketching in a rough outline on his canvas in preparation for creating his painting using the tools of his craft. When seen in that light, I suddenly found how pre-writing should and could fit into my process. Continue reading

Writers on Writing: Jane Bernstein

Reading Jane Bernstein’s essay “How and Why” brought to mind my own very speculative mind and spirit that is in constant query as to the how and why’s of things. As a writer, my speculative mind and spirit causes me to look deeper into my own heart and mind, and I feel that it also grants me a strong intuitive mind that understands what is deep within other minds, connecting me to depths of humanity and life itself.  Reading “How and Why,” I could identify with Bernstein’s running, in that I walk, to clear my mind and “mull” things over. (Griffin p. 11)

When I am walking outside in nature, I lose myself into the landscape that envelops me as though I am one with it. When I am walking outside in nature, I tune out any extraneous real world soundtrack and tune into the concerto of bird song or the rustle of the leaves or marsh grasses whispering in the soft breeze or perchance keening in the wicked wind. My mind becomes clear, empty in that process of immersing myself in nature and it is then that I mull, as Bernstein does when she is running. There is a space in a clear mind that creates from a point deeper, more connected to the soul, which is a vital point of connection needed to write in the first person about one’s self and life.

Jane Bernstein’s essay “How and Why” is available in Connie Griffin’s book “To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction.” This book has been my go to book throughout the past two years studying Creative Writing at UMass Amherst University Without Walls. It has also served as textbook and reference book for four classes I have taken with Connie Griffin, including two core classes, Frameworks of Understanding and Writing for Experience, as well as Magazine Writing and Creative Non-fiction. 

The practice of reading other writers on their struggles with their craft is so helpful. All writers struggle with finding their voice, creating the right space to work in, shutting out their inner critic and getting past self-doubt. Those are just a few of the issues that writers face. As I continue to work through my own issues with writing and work to shape my first memoir, look for more posts here on Writers on Writing.