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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart Archives

the dark threads, reprised

I have a copy of this tapestry, one of my favourites. The idea that women made this — centuries ago — that they sat together for probably a decade (1495-1505), creating this thing of such intricate loveliness, among them? I’m […]

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hope’s feathers

Just a poem today, as I wrestle with a body intent on discomfort. Which leads to thoughts of mortality, of course. And the grateful realisation that I’m basically pretty healthy. Not so my aging mother-in-law, who drifts through twilight days […]

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poetry as mentor

So by now everyone knows it’s National Poetry Month. And I’m also writing poetry daily, as NPM coincides w/ National Poetry WRITING Month (NaPoWriMo). It’s a very happy month for me. Today’s poem is by a poet who has been […]

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what poets do

I’m always trying to explain to people ‘why poetry?’ But today I found a poem that says it far better than I can, and by one of my favourite poets ~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti. One of the fathers of the Beat […]

catching up on poetry

Each day of this month I’m writing poetry. (You ought to try it — really. It’s a LOT more fun when you aren’t being graded!) I’m also reading poetry daily — my own, that of others. And whenever April comes, […]

National Poetry Month, and so what?

It’s no secret that I adore National Poetry Month. For one entire month, I’m not a nerd: I’m in tune! I can post poetry to my FB. I can talk poetry to strangers. I can confess I love it! This is no […]

poetry, structure, and creative beginner’s heart

Last night, discussing structure and writing with my elder son, I said I couldn’t write w/ too much structure. That writing is — for me — a discovery process. Structure, I told him, can actually kill my ideas. Later, as  I lay […]

what poetry gives us

Today’s poem is actually a three-fer. I’ve been writing to prompts from NaPoWriMo, one of the national sites for National Poetry Writing Month. The poem today is written from yesterday’s prompt, which asked writers to do a riff on a […]

in praise of short poems

I grew up on haiku. It’s popular in school classrooms now — fast, and relatively easy to teach — but I don’t remember there being a lot of my friends who learned it as children. My familiarity with it — […]

beginner’s heart haiku

Haiku is the archetypal Buddhist poetry, at least to most Americans. And certainly the compressed form, the emphasis on experience and now, are very much in keeping with Buddhism. As are many of the early practitioners: Buson, Issa, Bashō. So […]

quilt pieces and a poem for beginner’s heart

It wasn’t that long ago that I realised how many of the poets I love best are Buddhist. They don’t make a big deal about it (most Buddhists don’t — I’m kind of an anomaly, blogging from a Buddhist/ Unitarian/ […]

day #28 of National Poetry Month ~

I’m the kind of traveler who immerses herself — as far it’s possible — in the history of the places I visit. I want to know about the ‘actual’ history — who, when, where, why. But I also want to […]

day #25 of National Poetry Month ~

Last night I walked a metaphor. Staying here on Mauie, with a close friend, at her mother’s house is certainly cool enough. But an inward journey? Under a full Maui moon? Pardon the pun, but celebrating the rebuilding (& ‘reframing’) […]

day #24 of National Poetry Month ~

It’s hard to keep up a routine in Maui. Even w/ every good intention, I have yet to pick up my journal. And despite how much I love my iPad, it’s impossible to upload certain images. But in honour of […]

day #23 of National Poetry Month ~

Today is my father’s birthday. He would be 96. It also happens to be Shakespeare’s, which should probably be more important (he’s a LOT older, for one) to a poet. But it’s not. I looked for poems about fathers, which […]

day #22 of National Poetry Month ~

I confess to a huge crush on W.S. Merwin, begun long before I met him at a Nimrod Literary Journal weekend. His work is amazing. He’s a Buddhist from way back. And he’s trying very hard to restore & save […]

day #21 of National Poetry Month ~

Even though it’s a bit briskish today (as my Aunt Bonnie would say…), you can tell it’s spring. The bees are working their fuzzy striped butts off. And there are fat peony buds in the walled garden, ready to burst […]

day 20 of National Poetry Month ~

The poet Mona Van Duyn is another favourite. This is one of hers I hadn’t known previously — I actually was looking for another poem when I came across it. Being a sucker for bees (my first name, as many […]

day #19 of National Poetry Month (‘we must love one another or die’) ~

All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie… Today I tried to eat my lunch beneath a TV set blazing with the latest tragic news from Boston. From Watertown. From hatred. No one knows why the bombers […]

day 18 of National Poetry Month ~

Today is Poem In Your Pocket Day. Just a big FYI. It also was Poetry for Peace Day at a local community college. I was lucky enough to be a reader, along w/ several talented student poets and a couple […]

day #17 of National Poetry Month ~

Poetry always helps me with grief. With rage at injustice, with loss. With all the sorrows — as well as joys — of human existence. Today’s poem is for the many victims rippling out from the horrific centre of the […]

day #16 of National Poetry Month ~

As we enter the baseball season (for real addicts, that began with the spring training season!), I thought I’d share one of my very favourite poems. While baseball isn’t a great love of mine, I do have fond memories of […]

day #15 of National Poetry Month ~

When I was 19, I gave my mother a book of poetry. Even then, it seemed to me that poetry was the best thing I could offer my loved ones. It was a book academics & serious poets would dismiss […]

day 14 of National Poetry Month ~

I grew up moving. And losing things — as the Elizabeth Bishop villanelle I posted earlier reminds us, the art of losing isn’t hard to master. Except, of course, it is… Yesterday two of my sisters finally emptied an old […]

day 13 of National Poetry Month ~

Having spent many years teaching at the ‘higher ed’ level (re: college), I feel qualified to say that the system is sick. Fattened on the blood of adjuncts, centred far too often on the desires of faculty and a profit-driven […]

day 12 of National Poetry Month ~

I’m spending this week w/ the most wonderful professionals in the world: teachers. Yep. Teachers. We get a bad rap these days.  But nowhere will you find men & women more committed to the future of America: our kids. Who […]

day 11 of National Poetry Month ~

I am a sister. Sometimes I feel like I should preface that statement as they do in AA: Hi. My name is Britton and I’ve been a sister for all but a scant three years of my life. I don’t […]

day #10, National Poetry Month ~

Seamus Heaney — Nobel Laureate that he is — doesn’t get the attention in popular poetry circles that folks like Dickinson and Frost do. And yet he’s a wonderful poet — a people’s poet as well as a poet’s poet. […]

tea & memory: day #9 of National Poetry Month ~

If you’ve read any of this blog, you know I’m nuts about tea. Crazy, obsessive, elitist (and possibly boring) on the topic. Poetry, too. I have almost as many tea ‘cookbooks’ as favourite poets. There are six tea sets in […]

day 8, National Poetry Month ~

During my master’s, I was besotted with the poet Robert Hayden. I read every one of his poems, all his prose, the critical biography on him, and the few scholarly articles available. I still think he is the most under-appreciated […]

day 7, National Poetry Month ~

 There’s a tendency to think of poetry as not much fun. Unless you’re a total nerd/ geek/ dork… Or (as I heard said recently in a venue I would never have expected to hear the term) a pointy-head. Re: intellectual. […]

day 6, National Poetry Month ~

 Elizabeth Bishop is another poet who is easy to love. She makes her art almost invisible, effortless. Like those invisible zippers that hold the pieces together… This is a poem I return to again & again. It’s a villanelle — […]

day 5, National Poetry Month ~

One of the earliest poems I remember reading that voiced opposition to the war in Việt Nam was Denise Levertov’s ‘What Were They Like?’ I read it years ago at a reading of poets who had influenced the readers. I’m reading […]

day 4 National Poetry Month ~

A friend asked me what my month of poetry has to do with Buddhism, with beginner’s heart. I wanted to yell EVERYTHING! But I didn’t. Instead, I gave a rational response about the need for words when we have none, and […]

day 3 of National Poetry Month ~

One of my favourite poets died a few years ago, in 2007. Her name was Maude Meehan. She was an amazing woman, as well as a heckuva poet. She was a worker for social justice from way back: worker’s rights, […]

Day 2, National Poetry Month ~

Today’s poem is one of my favourites. It also changes American poetry (arguably). It’s Ezra Pound, of course — that contentious, controversial poet who went loudly nuts during WWII. But this is the quieter, Asian art-influenced Pound. The poet who […]

National Poetry Month!

On my Facebook page, I’m publishing my own poems daily — one by one, each written or revised or at least revisited for this month I love. But here, I’m going to link daily to a poem important to me. […]

Frost, ambiguity, & grading ~

I like Robert Frost. He’s not in vogue w/ much of the ‘Academy,’ those members of the ruling university class who decide which books/ writers/ thinkers/ ideas are in or out these days. Right now, Frost isn’t ‘in.’ I think […]

beginner’s noösphere (and poetry) ~

I fall in love with words. And I’m pretty promiscuous about it — no single one holds my interest exclusively. I’m kind of a polygamous word lover, I guess. Much of my writing evolves out of word love affairs. One […]

nightmares, poetry, & beginner’s heart ~

I’m trying to see learning these days. Which means I’m looking for it in unlikely places. Like nightmares. I’ve always been prone to nightmares. Today’s poem for National Poetry Writing Month is about that, a particular ongoing nightmare that reappears […]

Buddhism for poets (and vice-versa…) ~

I’ve written about becoming a Buddhist elsewhere, but as with most of our memories, I may have that wrong. I may have been born w/ Buddhist longings, but I also may have found my Buddhist mind through poetry. Poetry is […]

Previous Posts

unexpected treasures
This is a bat house. While this one isn't the one currently in my garage, awaiting its move to Virginia, it looks much like ours will look in a few years: ...

posted 1:15:47pm Jul. 30, 2015 | read full post »

making friends with (at?) work
Because of the upcoming move, I've scaled back on many activities I love, including several non-profits. Friday, the head of one I particularly enjoy asked if ...

posted 5:49:17pm Jul. 27, 2015 | read full post »

temper temper
I'm probably going to get a LOT of pushback on this, but at least in my family, men have worse tempers than the rest of us. And they don't believe ...

posted 12:36:21pm Jul. 24, 2015 | read full post »

In Praise of Teachers Under Attack, reprised
I am so sick of anti-teacher ignorance that I could spit, as my Aunt Bonnie would have said. “It’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher.” No. No, no, ...

posted 1:52:52pm Jul. 23, 2015 | read full post »

moving toward light: opening up and letting go
Photographers have a term for when there's not light to shoot a picture. It's called 'opening up': you increase the aperture -- the hole through which ...

posted 1:42:11pm Jul. 22, 2015 | read full post »

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