"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Lisa Starr will read and present at the 2020 Virtual Sierra Poetry Festival 4/18/20

Lisa Starr will be reading at the 2020 Virtual Sierra Poetry Festival on April 18th

Lisa is a Rhode Island Poet Laureate Emerita and spent the last thirty years running an inn (The Hygeia House) and The Block Island Poetry Project, and raising two amazing children on a small island off the coast of Rhode Island. The business sold, the kids grew up, and Lisa relocated to Westerly, where she is at work on her next collection, Pot Luck, a book of poems about children.
In a beautifully written essay in Parabola in 2019, Lisa described what her friendship with Mary Oliver felt like while taking care of Mary in the end of her life. You can read Lisa’s full essay in Parabola.

“In the days following Mary’s death, as we slowly tidied up the bedroom and tried to get used to the startling absence of her tiny body, surely we each took our own inventory of that spare room where she slept and worked for the last three years of her life—the work table and the typewriter, the twin bed and the night stand with her well-worn copy of A Year With Rumi, and the small yellow legal pad on which she wrote the words and phrases that still came, though to her great dismay, with less and less frequency.  They don’t come around much, she said, but when they do I always let them in. “ – Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr’s poem What It Takes was published also in Parabola. I loved using this poem as a model for my own writing. I’ve included the writing prompt below if you want to generate some new writing with this poem’s inspiration:

What It Takes
All it takes is one blue rowboat tied to a buoy,
and its reflection, and this moment
for me to go remembering everything.
Then a murmur, the sound of water lapping,
the breeze snapping, and the way the leaves
resist the letting go, or don’t…
the wheels of a bicycle soaring downhill
with some gravity-glad rider—
all of it, all of it complicit.
What I’m talking about is the sheer, shimmering
faith of the rope that connects the boat to the buoy
and the hands that tied the knot, and the fathers
who teach their sons and daughters
these simple things I see all day
and sometimes, not at all.
Moments like this become miracle, oracle,
and my heart knows again that the whole world—
this one—is just my own face in the mirror,
and I know that I am the boat and the buoy
and the rope—and like faith, that holy smoke—
I am brilliant, and bobbing, and blue.

Prompt using elements of this poem: Describe an image visually in your memory of some vehicle of transportation – a boat, bike, car, airplane, motorcycle, skateboard, etc. Include descriptions of auditory images surrounding this vehicle and your associated memories. Half way through your writing, write “What I’m talking about is…” and begin to answer that statement. Close the poem by writing “I know I am…” and continue to this vein to create a metaphor.

The Poet Laureate of Rhode Island from 2008-2013, a two-time recipient of the Rhode Island fellowship for poetry, a former college instructor, waitress, freelance writer and publicist, Lisa has published three full-length collections of poetry: Days of Dogs and Driftwood (1993), This Place Here (2001), and Mad with Yellow (2009). I look forward to hearing her read at our Virtual event April 18th!

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