A taste of poetry with Robert Ronnow (guest post from Leanne Jewett)

February 19, 2009

The first meeting of Inkberry’s guided poetry discussion group was held at Inkberry the first Monday in February. Though a number of poems were prepared for possible discussion, the first two poems of similar theme proved stimulating enough to carry the group through the full meeting. For an expanded overview of the evening and links to the poetry that will be discussed at our next meeting, which will happen at Inkberry on March 2, 7:00 pm, visit Poet Robert Ronnow’s website: ronnowpoetry.com/Inkberrypoemssf.

— Leanne Jewett


Haiku contest winners!

July 7, 2008

At long last, here are the winners of the haiku contest we posted about last month! The winners each received tickets to a Steeplecats game. Our thanks to everyone who entered!

And the winners are…

Andrew Beaudoin, age 10:

Deep fly ball to left.
He’s going back, to the track,
At the wall…SEE YA!!!

Werner Gundersheimer:

Slathered with mustard
my hot dog falls to the ground.
Guess my team will lose.

Bill Mattia:

Scattered caps and gloves
Another bench clearing brawl
Caused by a bad pitch

Bill Miller:

More so than helmets or cleats

Paul Smachetti:

The ball on a hop
fielded cleanly at second,
the double play turned.

Daniel Spinella:

Wakefield calls the tune.
“Hoedown with Knuckleball.”
The batter beats time.

Honorable Mention:

Gene Conklin
Linda Delisle
Patrick Kelly
James Montgomery
Enid Shields

Inkberry co-founder at Best American Poetry

June 11, 2008

In early June I had the pleasure of serving as a guest-blogger at the Best American Poetry blog. (If you’re not already reading the BAP blog, allow me to recommend it; it’s as smart, wry, and multifaceted as one might imagine.)

I posted three poems over the course of my week there. Two of them are sestinas, both because I’m on a sestina kick lately and because I happen to know that the fine fellow who founded the BAP phenomenon is a fan of the form. Here are links to all three poems:


Voice (Naso)

Sestina Featuring Six Words Commonly Used On This Blog

It was a delight to lend my words to the Best American Poetry folks for a while. Thanks for the invitation, gang!

–Rachel Barenblat

Timeless tradition / Endless summers in the park / Everyone homers

June 11, 2008

Reprinted from The North Adams Transcript, with permission.

Baseball isn’t just for jocks and jugheads but for everyone, even the literary-minded. “America’s pastime” has long inspired writers — not only day-to-day journalists but novelists such as John R. Tunis, Jackson Scholz and the legendary Ring Lardner.

Aside from “Casey at the Bat,” by Ernest Thayer, one seldom hears about great baseball poems, yet there are many out there, as a visit to http://www.baseball-almanac/poems will attest. Among poets who have written about baseball are William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman, Ogden Nash, Richard Armour and the ever-famous A. Nonymous.

Today, the local non-profit literary organization Inkberry, the Transcript and the North Adams SteepleCats are sending out a call to local poets (and anyone else who might be interested) to get inspired by this summer game so many of us love, whether we cheer for the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Mets or our local collegiate, high school, Babe Ruth or Little League teams.

The three organizations are sponsoring a Baseball Haiku contest, commencing immediately. The top three winners (and more if the poetry warrants) will receive free tickets to a SteepleCats home game at Joe Wolfe Field this summer. They will also have their poems published in the Transcript.
What is a haiku? It’s a form of poetry invented by the Japanese that anyone of any age can write. In English, haikus are traditionally composed of three lines: The first has five syllables, the second seven syllables and the third five syllables. The writers don’t even have to worry about punctuation. The poem that begins this article is an example of a baseball haiku (although not necessarily a good one).

Entering the contest is easy: Just send your haiku (or haikus) via e-mail to linda@inkberry.org or by regular mail to Inkberry, 115 State St., Building 1, North Adams MA 01247. All ages are welcome.

Winners will be announced in early July. Please include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address with your entry. The deadline is Wednesday, July 2, at 5 p.m.

Write your poem today
Get inspired by baseball lore
No one will strike out.

Reflections on a joint workshop with the Elizabeth Freeman center

April 24, 2007

Today was the first session of a new poetry workshop — a collaboration between Inkberry and the Elizabeth Freeman Center.

It was an amazing and inspiring experience. I posted about it on my own blog; if you’re interested, you can read that post here.

Thanks, Inkberry, for extending this invitation to me. In a lot of ways, this workshop reminds me of the early days of the organization — and just how exciting it felt to be sharing our love of writing and the written word with so many different folks from around our community.

Get ekphrastic! (Guest post from Paula Orlando)

April 2, 2007

The next WordPlay event on 4/14 at Papyri Books is concentrating on Ekphrastic Poetry, in response to the “The Moon is Broken” exhibit at WCMA. Poet Paula Orlando writes about her ekphrastic experience.

I’ve been writing poetry since I was eight years old, but didn’t get serious about it until I moved to San Francisco and became involved with the Poetics Program at New College of California, where I studied with Tom Clark and was one of the founding editors of the college’s literary journal Prosodia. I received my MFA in English/Creative Writing at Mills College in Oakland and then moved to upstate New York to join the graduate program in English at SUNY Albany. Currently, I am a grant project manager at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and live at the Eclipse Mill Artist Lofts, where I am enjoying my involvement with the local arts community. The Inkberry Thursday night writer’s group has inspired me to begin working on a series of short stories.

At Inkberry’s Thursday night writer’s group, Jill suggested that we visit the Williams College Museum of Art and compose an “ekphrastic” poem in response to one of the photos in The Moon is Broken exhibit. I felt a bit apprehensive about this exercise because much of the imagery is abstract, and a lot of my past writing has tended toward the abstract and has been received as inaccessible. But when I saw the surreal Robert D’Alessandro photo of an elephant walking among the clouds I was quite taken with it because elephants are such ponderous, earthbound creatures. I immediately thought of the elephant in the photo as a kind of sky god, oddly light and airy. And then I thought of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha, widely popular in India as a benevolent god of good fortune. So, instead of writing a poem, I wrote a one-page “fable” about Ganesha, in which I drew upon some of the traditional stories and tweaked or reversed them, so that Ganesha, rather than staying with the people on earth and helping them out with their daily woes, rather selfishly returns to his mother in paradise. It is we, not this elephant, who are bound to the earth. This piece is consistent with much of my recent writing, which has focused on deconstructing religious motifs and symbols in an effort to problematize them or get closer to the spiritual “truths” that they sometimes obscure or distort. I also like experimenting with different “voices,” and, for this piece, I adopted the tone and stylistic mannerisms of the traditional fable. The ekphrastic poetry exercise turned out to be a lot of fun, and I am pleased with the piece that it inspired. Here’s an excerpt from my poem:

“In what dream,” he asked “would you hope to walk securely with two faces, one in front and one in back, like those who wear papier-mâché masks to confuse my cousin tiger? The tiger is the mind, and he is always following you.

“I cannot return,” he said, “to a place I never really was.”

Berry Sestina

June 21, 2006

A poem written to be read at Inkstravaganza: the celebration of Inkberry’s first five years.


The best bush we know, the staunch inkberry:
“Even by roadsides and in waste places,” its hall
-mark is blooming and bearing fruit to pluck,
Like a writer never short on ink to pen
A deeply-rooted ode. We planted one, just five
Short years ago, chasing down a dream.

Who could have known, in those days of dream
How many late nights would arise at our ‘berry,
Or early board meetings, waking at five,
Carrying the Box o’Joe down the silent hall.
Rainy mornings we’d leave the windows open,
The scent of lilacs near enough to pluck.

Starting this nonprofit took a lot of pluck.
No idea what we were doing; we didn’t dream
Of budgets or IRS forms, scrawled over with pen.
We fantasized poets, novelists, Wendell Berry…
(His refusal was polite.) What hallowed hall
Would someday hold our posters, framed, five

Years’ worth? We couldn’t fathom turning five.
Yet here we are, the strings we first plucked
Reverberating gloriously through this hall.
This sweet machine runs like a dream.
Mark Doty, Alicia Ostriker, Bob Hicok, Drinkberry…
(To think we considerd the name “Mountain Pen!)

A female swan, too, is called a “pen”
And this duckling is turning swan, at five.
So many writers have come here to bury
Their seeds in our soil. Plays, plots of pluck,
Poems: our pages unfurled like dreams.
We’ve come a long way since Donald Hall

Set foot in the Main Street Stage’s hall,
Autographing books with the rector’s pen.
The house that night was packed — what a dream!
So nervous, we picked him up at five…
If we’ve learned anything about roses, it’s “pluck,
But leave some blooms to fruit into berries.”

Down the hall, more years. May the next five
Give rise to pages from our pens, the pluck
Of following a dream…and joy in our berry.