Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A poem from my book, Gods of Water and Air

A prose poem from the book, which I'm again discounting to $11.00 through February, for all of you who didn't get one in December! Email me if you want one.

Wild Ranunculas. This is how you mend, ounce by floating ounce. Each petal lights on the eye, and the five-fingered yellow flowers nod. A moving cloud scars the field in March wind’s bitter tea. Walking through fields is an undoing. Eyes take off memories and stand where sun has fallen and sprouted into a thousand green buds. Within each opened cup, a tiny black and drunken fly. How have you come this far, you ask. To know the wild ranunculas graze on your trampling ankles. Go back! You tell the flowers. The world is not ready for your news of stars. The meadow’s ancient bulletins are thick with unearned light. You return bee-like, carrying.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cheever's new bio of E. E. Cummings

I'm a huge fan of Cummings and his idiosyncratic experiments with feeling and language. Susan Cheever's new bio of E. E. Cummings looks wonderful, including as it does the intimacy of a personal connection through her father's friendship with him. Here's an excerpt. Cummings won me when I first started reading him in high school, as so many did, given the accessibility of his poetry. How could I not be won by a poet who could write:
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart 
(The whole poem is here.)  
And here is a beautiful musical setting of that poem by Mischa Rutenberg, with art by Nadya Phillips.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Things I learned from my readers

Purchase Gods of Water and Air
In book reviews and personal responses to my poetry, readers have revealed to me more about how and why I write than I could have learned through introspection. They've also inspired me to write new work. That's a poem prompt I've seen nowhere: "Write a poem based on one reader's positive comment about your poetry; then revise it based on another reader's critique."

Here are some things I learned about my poetic method and content:

* WORK IN LAYERS: "Many of her poems ... unfold in delicate layers as one reads on, and with each successive theme she offers the gift of insight, “I toss away/ What I can for a journey into the fault. / But the ground coughs me up. / A shiver and I straighten, /and then again bow/ to all the gods of upheaval.” - Ami Kaye, Pirene's Fountain, a review of Gods of Water and Air.

* BE PAINTERLY: “In Gods of Water and Air, Rachel Dacus turns a painterly eye onto both the nooks and crannies of our world — ‘hints of rose madder in the cerulean,’ a palm tree’s ‘rigid, rattling arguments’ — and ‘the blue immensity’ that holds us all. — Molly Fisk, author of The More Difficult Beauty and Blow-Drying a Chicken.

* LET SPIRITUAL CONCERNS SHINE THROUGH: “One of the most full-breathed, transfiguring books I have partaken of for a long time.” — personal note from Naomi Shihab Nye after reading my book Earth Lessons.

I always thought I had successfully hidden my urge to transfigure, but it seems, no I didn't. So I might as well give myself the freedom to write as a spiritual being -- that is, someone interested in the life's layers and epiphanies and doubts informed by a core faith. I really can't help but write from it.

The biggest thing all reader responses have shown me is that there's nowhere to hide -- a freeing revelation! So thanks for the feedback, comments, and praise, and especially the reviews and critiques. And thanks very much for reading!