Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Who are we?

This is an exercise that the wonderful Catherine Smith set during one of the original AppleHouse Poetry Workshops in the apple orchard studio at my home in the UK. It's a challenge, you'll see that. But it does force you to make every word count, to choose language that can suggest the most.


I have crossed an ocean
I have lost my tongue
from the root of the old one
a new one has sprung

Grace Nichols

Is this the poet's epilogue to her life so far, as she stands in it and looks back? It also reads as a very compact biography.

Can you write your biography with similar economy?

Let's be kind to ourselves and allow another two lines, if we need them.

Write well.
L x


Glenn Buttkus said...

My Movie

A film star I never became
but a SAG card I coveted
before legions of the blind
called to me from their mists
of mourning, and I answered.
Now my servitude nears completion
and the liberty of poetics fills
the very air of my days to come.

Glenn Buttkus May 2010

Lynne Rees said...


I left a country for an island,
an island for a continent.
But even in cities I was never far
from mountains, the call of the sea.
At night, the stars remind me
how small I have become.

Glenn Buttkus said...


The bespectacled nine-year old boy
sitting alone in the dark
front row of the Ballard Theater
never did buy that private island,
but he did hear the pleas
and he served them well.

Glenn Buttkus May 2010

Erin Lee Ware said...


Miles gone and years past,
I’m still writing.
From land to computer,
I search the blank space.

I’ve not found me yet.

Fran said...

I packed a suitcase with the future
Rolling up the dreams to avoid creases
And stuffing ideas about passion and heroes
Into small spaces between the aspirations.
But when I tried to lift it and leave,
Its stubborn bulk was too much for me.

martin cordrey said...


I’m a zander in a mountain lake,
hermit crab in an oysters home.

I’m a s-l-o-w motion earthquake,
an Orchid beneath a Gideon moon.

martin cordrey said...


Here’s a house;
Windows, doors
Love, birth, loss
Days out, chores

Glenn Buttkus said...


I dream of lochs, shaggy cattle,
green mountains and broadswords;
and though I have never set foot there
in this lifetime, still I know truly
I carry Scotland within me.

Glenn Buttkus May 2010

Glenn Buttkus said...

Children of Dust

Three novels gather soft sighs
on dark basement shelves,
two of them finished manuscripts;
my whelps, they wait patiently
for me to be the faithful father
and give them the hugs
they deserve.

Glenn Buttkus May 2010

Cameron D. Mathews said...


I’m but a bubble
Cascading up
And down the spine
of my own crooked life.

Keith Wallis said...

Yesterday's laughter
in manna decay
touched and rusting time -
contamination by proximity.

Anonymous said...

Always seeking the sea,
the breeze, the big skies
over the bay, searching
for home, sometimes
thinking I found it.

Eileen Carney Hulme

Lu said...

I travel

therefore, I am a dandelion.
My hair grows white, parachutes
ready to open. An excited butterfly
wings off my cotton balls, shakes off
my tiny seeds, spreading them to
every corner where I root, stretch,
boogie on and upward, preparing
for another turbulent flight.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Ellen, I really like your poem, for it conjured up so many cities by the bay. I posted it over on my site, Feel Free To Read, proudly. Click on my name if you would like to email/communicate. I picked Seattle and Elliott Bay to illustrate your poem.


Glenn Buttkus said...

Return of the Native

Raised in sight of several islands
on the shores of a vast inland sea,
I spent a decade on the desert
waiting for Guffman, or my star
to show up on the boulevard—
coming to my senses I returned
to the Ring of Fire, laced lush with
forests, mountains, and actual ocean.

Glenn Buttkus May 2010

Glenn Buttkus said...

That would be Eileen Hulme, not "Ellen"--sorry about that. These old eyes are not what they used to be. Still I loved your poem. It is a real rush to be amongst you Applehousers, writing, and creating, and having Lynne reinforce us to continue doing so.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn
I just popped on here and saw your comment, hope Lynne won't mind me saying thanks for the generous words and I saw the pic and poem on your website, thanks very much for that so unexpected and a lovely surprise.

Helen said...


The struggle to turn kindness inward,
smoothness of another's mind;
letting the cracks through.
Loving myself enough to survive anything.

Erin Lee Ware said...

I'm not usually one to post multiple poems, but this prompt sparked a lot of thought. How to write your biography in less than 8 lines? Multiple attempts, of course!

Rest Stop

Foothills are bigger than
where I am now,
where the grass grows taller than land,
the plains.
The horizon’s mirage-y edge
fills my heart with heat,
my limbs with distance.

I will not stay.

martin cordreu said...

hi lynne,

this is a poem set to music, have you ever tried to make a poem from the lyrics of a song?

Lynne Rees said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynne Rees said...

Hello everyone

There is something addictive about writing short poems aroud a set theme, isn't there? I know I've been scribbling a few even if I only got round to posting one.

It was really interesting to read the different symbols/images/references we all used to reveal our lives:

movies and theatre, writing, darkness, blankness, dreams and imagination, travel and flight, natural, man-made and psychological landscapes, loss, serendipity, the sea, the sky.

We often used metaphor to try and explain something:
Glenn's 'liberty of poetics fill[ing] the very air' of his days.
Fran 'rolling up the dreams'
Keith's 'touched and rusting time'
Helen's smooth and cracked minds.

And personas:
Martin's earthquake
Cameron's bubble
Lu's dandelion

Or we placed ourselves in scenes that might offer some insight:
My starlit sky
Eileen's sea and bay
Erin's blank space that hasn't given an answer 'yet'

This post has, I feel, unearthed some treasures. I hope we all keep a record of what we've written, revisit it at some time in our future.

Back with another post soon.
L x

Mary Rose said...

Who Are We


I tear down the barriers
dig deep, find my buried
alone, alive, loved, loving

Glenn Buttkus said...


Once I really tried to emulate my grandfather
with my own sketching and painting;
but now the wonders and horrors
of this world are rendered down
to shimmering lines of poetry—soon
to be joined by digital images I will
gather with my composer’s eye.

Glenn Buttkus May 2010

martin cordrey said...

the sun
shall set soon
on another day

the piano's ebony tune
i wish i'd learnt
too play.

iolaire said...

My creative flame
Carefully kindled in boyhood
Almost snuffed out
By stereotype conditioning
Burns bright once more.

Tez Watson May 2010

Lynne Rees said...

A belated hello to Helen and iolaire. Welcome to AppleHouse and thank you for posting your poems.

@ Helen - 'to turn kindness inward'. This phrase really touched me this morning... thinking of my mother who finds it so difficult to be kind to herself. I think I'll show her this.

@ iolaire - that loss of creativity happens to so many people, and to rediscover it is such a joy. I look forward to reading more of your writing.