MARY LOU AND THE KING

Mary Lou Taylor will be at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library for yet another reading of her book of poems, Bringing Home the Moon. Mark your calendar for Tuesday, April 19th, 2016—meaning, TOMORROW, at 5:00 p.m. The reading will be at the Schiro Room 550, at the King Library, on San Fernando and 4th Street. Check the flyer for further details about dinner following the reading. RSVP at mltpoet85@gmail.com.

Make this your special event for April—Poetry Month.

MLT flyer-sm

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POETRY WITH MARY LOU TAYLOR at the Montalvo Writer Series: Sunday, November 8, 2015

Join me on Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 4:30 p.m.at the Historic Villa at Montalvo Arts Center, where I’ll be reading from my new book, Bringing Home the Moon, published Aldrich Press, 2015. This event is FREE! Books will be available for purchase; beer and wine will be for sale, and light refreshments will be served. But first—please RSVP at the Montalvo site. All MUST RSVP at the Montalvo site. You can click the button to reach the Montalvo website.
ClickHere

Hope all of you can attend. See what some of my poet friends have to say about my new book, Bringing Home the Moon: Cover Art: Chuck Drew.

Bringing Home

“Mary Lou is one of my favorite poets,” raves Grace Cavalieri, radio host of The Poet and the Poem. “In Bringing Home the Moon, we have her past experience turned into poems boldly planned and implemented through the prism of memory….These are beautifully proportioned recollections you will read and then revisit.”

“We float through moments formative or formidable, touching or frightful, but all…lit with generous spirit and a graceful love of language” —Harry Lafnear

“This is THE poetry collection of the year!” —David Denny, first Poet Laureate of Cupertino

MLT at Montalvo

2014 BLOSSOM FESTIVAL IN SARATOGA, CA

I read poetry—along with three other poets—at the Saratoga Blossom Festival on Saturday, March 22nd at 10:30 a.m. at the Warner Hutton House next to the orchard on Fruitvale Avenue off Saratoga Avenue.There definitely were blossoms! And food, drink, booths and fun.

Here is the beautiful flyer for the event and some photographs of the poets—David Denny, Jennifer Swanton Brown, and Renée Schell, who read with me at the 2014 Blossom Festival.

2014 Blossom Fest flyer

David_MLT

Jennifer_Group

Coming Up

Lots of good readers: Erica Goss, the LG Poet Laureate, along with Kelly Cressio-Moeller, Renée Schell, Sage Curtis and Ellaraine Lockie so far. And me. A quick read; five minutes apiece!

Hope to see you there.

POETRY ON THE MOVE

April is National Poetry Month.  To celebrate, the County of Santa Clara Poet Laureate Sally Ashton launched Poetry on the Move, featuring five winning poems.  County residents were asked to send their best poem that celebrates who we are and what we do in Silicon Valley in 50 words or less. One of the goals of the Santa Clara County Poet Laureate program is to craft a poetic identity for the county.  Sally Ashton, working with the County Executive’s Office of Public Affairs, has created a beautiful, colorful anthology of the poems that were submitted for the Poetry on the Move contest last spring. The poems are printed on a lovely weight of paper, one poem per page, each embellished with transit imagery. There’s a full index in the back, so you will have no problem locating your poem or your own favorites.  Some books are still available from the Office of Public Affairs or from Sally.

It’s fitting that ten of us who submitted poems for the Poetry on the Move competition read at the Poetry Month celebration put on annually at San Josè State University.  We each read our own poem and chose another from the anthology. Here is my contribution to Poetry on the Move.

FRIDAY NIGHT STROLL

Standing at an easel,
paintbrush in hand, mixing
burnt sienna with a splash of white
to make sand the common ground.

On a special night of the month
art on display in galleries
in downtown San Josè.

You might be the purchaser
who takes home a painter’s heart.

Here, I am reading Maureen Draper’s poem, “On the Path.’

POETRY MONTH: READING IN APRIL

A fabulous afternoon of poetry at Barnes & Noble at Stevens Creek and San Tomas in San Jose for the Erica Goss and Friends reading. I was honored to be included with three poet laureates and other good friends: David Denny (Cupertino Poet Laureate), Kelly Cressio-Moeller, Parthenia Hicks (Los Gatos Poet Laureate), Casey FitzSimons, Connie Post, Erica Goss in between, me, and Nils Peterson (Santa Clara County Poet Laureate 2009-2011). We had every seat full, our books sold (well, we still have some available), and camaraderie among the poets. Dennis Noren, winner of one of the spots posted on San Jose’s buses and light rail, snapped the photograph. I loved his comment on the reading: “That much talent almost cracked the lens”.

Poetry Reading at Barnes & Noble

BACK BEHIND A PODIUM

Belonging to the Saratoga Foothill Club has given me opportunities (maybe forced me) to delve into Frances MayesThe Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems, to read up on images, and to offer an hour-and-a-half class through the Foothill Club’s Public Lecture Series titled Introduction to Poetry. Two weeks later I worked with a memoir class to present the two types of images Mayes suggests. I also joined the memoir class a week later to hear poems they chose to read, theirs or others. And enjoyed a potluck lunch without having to contribute. Delicious.

Another opportunity arose when Erica Goss and Mari L’Esperance taught a one-day class on images at the Markham House in History Park. What a relief to discover that literal images exist and are as acceptable as figurative. A more-than-useful day. My figurative images are few.

One of my students at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino was talking with me about poetry. What he said was: “It’s pretty easy to write a good poem. It’s almost impossible to write a great one.” I’ve never forgotten those words. An Introduction to Poetry must begin with Billy Collins and his poem of the same name. Not a great poem, but a good one that tells a true tale in his usual clever style. Billy Collins is a favorite of mine for his use of humor.

It’s been said that a poem needs POWER AND PUNCH. If that’s the type of poem you plan to write, you’ll need images. And where do they come from? SIGHT, HEARING, TOUCH, SMELL AND TASTE—the five senses. A figurative image likens an object or experience to something else, often something surprising. The poet intends to do one or all of these:

• Go beyond the literal meaning to the senses.
• Give pleasure or surprise to the imagination.
• Impart vigor by the inclusion of a sensory detail.
• Intensify the deeper intention in the writing by adding a figurative image as a new dimension.

Here’s part of a poem, “Pleasures of the Exotic,” from my book, The Fringes of Hollywood. Note the figurative images.

Artichoke:
fortress all its own
spiked at each leaf’s tip
refusing to reveal its secrets
unless uncovered one by one
like Salome’s veils

Avocado:
its greenness snug in the palm
press it, feel it give, cut through
firmly to open its halves.
Some skin peels away
like an opening curtain;
some must go under the knife.

Papaya:
shaped like a Rubens woman
its color the warmth of the setting sun:
inside, firm flesh, smooth, slippery
its womb black pearls
full of promise

And what are literal images? : A literal image aims to replicate in words the object or experience. The writer tries to reproduce the subject realistically without comparing it to anything else. Literal images take the flatness from your writing. No more “there are” beginnings. Many fewer is, are, was and were words. Use lively verbs. Be spare with adjectives and make them count. Even more spare with adverbs. And choose a noun that goes deep into description.

Another poem from The Fringes of Hollywood, this one without figurative images. Does it work?

JACK IN THE MORNING

I fixed a peach for you, he says, coming in
to wake me. I know that at the table bowl and plate
await me, sit royally on the blue mat

knife and spoon in place. The rich aroma of coffee
follows him down the hall. I push the covers back, thrust
my feet into padded slippers, paddle

to the kitchen. We sit behind our papers in unspoken truce, broken
only by the click of the microwave door. While his coffee
heats again, he kisses me,

microwave kisses and the toot of his horn at the foot
of the driveway. Sometimes I peer through shutter slats
to watch him drive away, linger

on the front porch to wave goodbye, happy
to have ended up after all these years
breakfasting with Jack.

And so many other ways to make a poem sing—alliteration, internal rhyme, repetition to name a few. You already know most of this, but I found that a quick review of the definitions of both literal and figurative images changed my writing.