Monday, April 20, 2009

The Passing of Poet Deborah Digges

I was aware of the poet Deborah Digges as someone close to my own age who was beautiful, talented and a respected teacher at Amherst. You might say I was a little envious of her.
On April 10th of this year, she commited suicide. She had so much to live for, such a gift for poetry, even if everything else in her life might have fallen apart. I know she wrote a book about her struggles raising a teenage son, with both mother and son triumphing as a result of her efforts.
After so many hardships, to keep pressing on would make all the sense in the world. But which suicide in the recent or distant past makes sense?
The following is a gorgeous poem written by Deborah Digges that I found online. She makes mention of a stadium, death squads and an executioner. Strangely, she died in a stadium:

My Amaryllis
So this is the day the fat boy learns to take the jokes
by donning funny hats, my Amaryllis,
my buffoon of a flower,
your four white bullhorn blossoms like the sirens
in a stadium through which the dictator announces he's in love.
Then he sends out across the land a proclamation-there must be music,
there must be stays of execution
for the already dying.
That's how your pulpy sex undoes me and your seven
leaves, unsheathed. How you diminish
my winter windows, and beyond them, the Atlantic.
How you turn my greed ridiculous.
Now it's as if I could believe in having children after forty,
or, walking these icy streets, greet sullen strangers
like a host of former selves, so ask them in, of course,
and listen like one forgiven to their crimes.
Dance with us and all our secrets,
dance with us until our lies,
like death squads sent to an empty house, put down,
finally, their weapons, peruse the family
portraits, admire genuinely the bride.
Stay with me in this my exile
or my returning, as if to love the tyrant one more time.

O my lily, my executioner, a little stooped, here,
listing, you are the future bending
to kiss the present like a sleeping child.

(published in Ploughshares)


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More about "Neighborhoods: Poetry Writing Workshop" in Chicago on April 18

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, each with a distinct feel, a unique style. Become the creative bard of your neighborhood. Set your imagination free, gear up your memory, and take part in a writing workshop for adults where you’ll create a story poem about your neighborhood, whether an urban or suburban one.

What is a story poem or prose poem? How does it differ from a standard poem or short story? What are the special sights, sounds and aromas of your neighborhood? Is there an unusual character who stands out in your neighborhood? What makes your neighborhood like none other?

Find out at Neighborhoods: A Poetry Writing Workshop led by poet Cynthia Gallaher on Sat. April 18 at 1:30 p.m at Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago. Explore prose poems by Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Italo Calvino, Carolyn Forche and Chicago’s Stuart Dybek. Get city-centric poetic inspiration from Polish poet Wislawa Symborska. You’ll then mix it up and try your hand at mapping out your own prose poem or two about that special place in Chicagoland – your own neighborhood.


Free poetry writing workshop on Sat. April 18 at the Harold Washington Library

Neighborhoods: Poetry Writing Workshop. Write a story poem about your neighborhood during a prose poem workshop led by Cynthia Gallaher on Saturday, April 18, 2009 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, Room 3N-5. For more information or to register, call 312-747-4400 or 312-747-4713. This event is part of the One Book, One Chicago celebration for "House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros. ◦