Poetry Friday – A Diminishing Poem of Presence

Today is Poetry Friday and Jama Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup is hosting today. She has a sweet post that includes smiles from Helena Nelson.

Last week I spent the week in Minneapolis and one of our many adventures was to visit an independent bookstore called Paperback Exchange. We had so much fun browsing, and we each chose all the books we wanted. My daughter was recommending titles to us. The store owner was chiming in. I found the poetry section, and the first book I picked up was this Poetry of Presence volume.

Look at that partial list of contributors

The editor Phyllis Cole-Dai writes a poem in the introduction: “On How to Pick and Eat Poems”. Two lines from her poem:

So put a poem upon your lips. Chew its pulp.
Let its juice spill over your tongue.

Read the whole poem at Phyllis’ web page here. Listen to her read it here.

Reading that poem at the store sold me on the book. After we got back to my daughter’s house with all our books, I was sorting through my books, looking for the poetry book. After a few minutes, I found it in my husband’s pile, where it’s been ever since. Yesterday, I came home and he was copying Sifter by Naomi Shihab Nye into his journal. It begins with:

When our English teacher gave
our first writing invitation of the year,
Become a kitchen implement
in 2 descriptive paragraphs,
I did not think
butcher knife or frying pan,
I thought immediately
of soft flour showering through the little holes
of the sifter and the sifter’s pleasing circular
swishing sound, and wrote it down.

Find the rest of the poem on page 30 in Poetry of Presence.

Weeks ago, I made a note that the Poetry Sisters’ challenge was a diminishing poem in September. I’m giving it a rough try, inspired by Nye’s poem. (I have no idea what that last line means, haha! I’m going to have to try that again!)

Be a tender sifter
of time. Just sift
the bad and sit
with the good–it
weighs on we, then I

10 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – A Diminishing Poem of Presence

  1. Sounds like you had a good haul from the bookstore. Poetry of Presence is excellent! Thanks for sharing excerpts from both poems. Good job with the diminishing poem — quite a tricky form, isn’t it?

  2. Oh, Denise, this is one of my favorite books ever. I keep it on my nightstand for regular reading. So glad you found a copy!

  3. Denise, I love your diminishing poem! A sifter of time is a lovely thought. I just added a copy of Poetry of Presence to my shopping cart!

  4. Wow! I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but that one is just gorgeous! Thanks for sharing a few sneak peeks. This definitely looks like a great find! I’m also intrigued by the diminishing poem form and am really enjoying reading all the different versions on PF.

  5. Denise, your trip unearhted quite some treasure. I loved the fact the bookshop had a dedeicated poetry section. Such a comforting discovery. The poems of presence book looks and sounds like a treasure. I shall go in search of this title. It holds great appeal.

  6. You don’t know how many of my diminishing poem drafts petered out incomprehensibly! Part of the fun of this form is A. choosing the right word and B. knowing when to stop! Keep at it!

    Thanks for the book recommendations. One can never have too many poetry books. (And as a bonus, I have my great aunt’s flour sifter sitting on the shelf that my grandfather made!)

  7. What fun to find such a treasure in the bookstore, Denise! Thanks for sharing it.

  8. I love “be a tender sifter of time” so beautiful! I don’t know this anthology, I must be on the lookout for it!

  9. Very impressed with your poem, Denise! Nicely done. (“Sifter” seemed familiar so I checked and I saved it in 2017. It’s a keeper!)

  10. Thanks for alerting me to this book! I didn’t know about it but I’ll be buying it for sure. It sounds absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed your diminishing verse too! I’ll have to try that form, though it intimidates me. đŸ™‚

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