Review of Immortal Poems of the English Language by Shola Balogun

July Online Open Mic

I love seeing artists supporting artists, and today we have Shola Balogun’s review of the book Immortal Poems of the English Language edited by Oscar Williams! Read his take on the book and then go check out the book as well!


This is a review of Oscar Williams’ anthology, Immortal Poems of the English Language -by Shola Balogun

Immortal Poems of the English Language Edited by Oscar Williams

Immortal Poems of the English Language, the anthology edited by Oscar Williams, provides a highly wide-ranging flavour of poetic souls from Geoffrey Chaucer to Dylan Thomas. It crisply re-presents and depicts an ideal blending of the British and American celebrated poets and poetry, taking the reader into the classical culture with its songs and ballads, to the mighty lines of Christopher Marlowe, to the mystical poems of William Blake, to Edward FitzGerald’ s admirable translation of the Persian Omar Khayyám’ s the Rubáiyát.

In the introduction to the anthology, the editor Oscar Williams, the American poet and admittedly a distinguished anthologist, having quoted Robert Frost that, “It is absurd to think that the only way to tell if a poem is lasting is to wait and see if it lasts. The right reader of a good poem can tell the moment it strikes him that he has taken an immortal wound- that he will never get over it. That is to say, permanence in poetry, as in love, is perceived instantly. It hasn’t to await the test of time. The proof of a poem is not that we have never forgotten it, but we knew at sight we never could forget it”, states,

“A poem is immortal not only because it continues to be read by generation after generation of readers but also because each sensitive reader, having once experienced the poem, absorbs the experience and continues to feel it always, and further, because a true poem expresses an immortal human truth. Anyone who knows how to love, or to suffer, or to think, anyone who wishes to live fully, needs and seeks poetry” (“Introduction” p. 9).

The expression of poetry is not limited or restricted to any single language. It is factually visible in traditional societies whose indigenes, though are not ‘readers’ of poems, can still tell when what is essentially collective is poorly personified or modified. A poem can be the work of a single creator but the expanded experience must be collective. And that is where the permanence in poetry lies. That is the proof that a poem can never be forgotten. In poetry, for the agonizing experience of love or suffering to be impressed on the minds of others, it has to be remarkably recalled, decidedly intense and creatively emotional.

Interestingly, the anthology with its 637 pages absorbs every piece of what constitutes living arts from the best of poets. The timelessness of poetry gives me the impression that this anthology, though published in 1952, is still much relevant today. The purpose of this review is to celebrate the 68 years of the Pocket Books printing of this anthology in memory of Oscar Williams (1900-1964), poet and editor of this anthology.

Williams, Oscar, ed. Immortal Poems of the English Language. Pocket ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1952. 637 pages

ISBN: 0- 671- 49610-7


Author of Review:

Shola Balogun is a Nigerian poet, playwright, filmmaker, and literary critic. He studied Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Balogun is the author of Praying Dangerously: The Cry of Blind Bartimaeus and The Wrestling of Jacob. He also screenplayed The gods Are Liars, Wrestling with Shadows and Deliverance from The Rod of the Wicked, based on the messages of Dr. D.K.Olukoya, which have been made into short films. His work has appeared in journals and anthologies, most recently in Nicosia Beyond Barriers: Voices from a Divided City and The Tau: The Literary and Visual Art Journal of Lourdes University. Balogun lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

Waxing Crescent & Other Poetry by Meg Smith

July Online Open Mic

Take a load off this golden Sunday afternoon with the silky words of Meg Smith! Take a look at her poetry below!


Waxing Crescent

Always
the light calls us,
drawing us out
from embers of sleep.
Always the light
builds, wave upon wave,
and we dance,
its mirror of darkness.
We are waking,
trembling in its orbit.
In its gray world,
indifferent,
we shine.


The Coptic Cross

Philae, Upper Egypt, March 2006

I’m not brooding or praying
or singing.
The sand rises, funnels,
splits into clouds.
I don’t deserve this blue sky
or columns of letters —
a language, which keeps
a prayer within.
All I have given
to Mary, Isis and Sekhmet,
I keep within
my sphere of hope.
Someone is coming apart
from me.
Someone is losing his silence.
I pray for him
to speed the boat.
I pray for him
to mark the cross
of his good hands.


Falling Dragon

I draw my fire
from within,
my heart,
my womb unopened.
I draw my fire
from the sky;
black clouds part,
and nothing begins,
all in the shadow
of beating wings,
all in the shadow
of waking green,
and whole.


Author:

Meg Smith is a writer, journalist, Oriental dancer, and events producer, living in Lowell, Mass., U.S.A. Her publication credits include The Cafe Review, The Horror Zine, The Starlite Virtual Poetorium, and Atlantic Currents: Connecting Cork and Lowell.

Her most recent poetry books, Pretty Green Thorns, Night’s Island, This Scarlet Dancing and Dear Deepest Ghost are available on Amazon.

Follow:

megsmithwriter.com

She welcomes visits to megsmithwriter.com, and

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/megsmithwriter/

Twitter — https://twitter.com/MegSmith_Writer

Paintings by Līga Kalniņa

July Online Open Mic

Līga Kalniņa is a painter from Latvia! Each piece brings emotion while her style also has a soft and inviting space.


Artist statement

My name is Līga Kalniņa(born 03.01.1990. Riga, Latvia).Now I’m living in small city Ķemeri and capitalcity Riga. My artist interests is mainly realistically based. My works of landscapes, architecture, portraits, still lifes, collage, assemblage have quite wide style and expression. I use gold, silver, metal leaves for my artworks, mix media, acrylic, watercolour, oil paint, varnish. I like different formats for my work – from small postcard type papers to 2×4 m canvases. I’m working on artworks of my hometown Ķemeri architecture and history, which could be my all life project. My artistic ideas interact with my experience and time. I am interested in depth and clarity of expression. I like to explore monumental shape, space, scale and speed. My goal in art is to create my own story of this time, capturing timeless emotions and passions. 


Artist:

Artist Līga Kalniņa(1990) is born in Riga, Latvia. Her painter career begin with early childhood watercolor exercise with mother. Now living in small city Ķemeri and capitalcity Riga. Professional education was gained  graduating Art school of Jūrmala(2009), Art teachers bachelor(2013) and Pedagogy magister(2015) in University of Latvia, and Art science magister in Art Academy of Latvia(2017). Exhibition experiance since 2005, personal show in 2009, more than 30 group exhibitions participant till now. Have written scientific article in early children artistic education (2016). Member of Artist Union of Latvia since 2018. Winner of Art competitions and  exhibition wiever prices (Art Day’s 2018, Marina Biennale 2019). Had art residency in Zvārtava castle 2019. Her artist interests is mainly realistically based, (landscapes, architecture, portraits, still lifes, collage, assemblage)with some decorative features like gold or silver leaves. Working on long time project capturing her hometown Ķemeri.

Little White Butterfly & Other Poetry by Linda M. Crate

July Online Open Mic

Linda M. Crate is here to set us up our day to focus on the simple magic of butterflies! Come read through each one to make your day a bit brighter.


little white butterfly
you always find me
when peace seems so
far away,
i think to remind me
that sometimes we must make our own
fairy tales;
life can be heavy as an anchor
dragging across the ocean floor
sometimes we need to break free of the
water in our lungs—
because water can free and heal
yet it can also hold, destroy, and wound;
i have never feared the depths
only the shallows
perhaps this is why everything
is always heavier than it needs to be in
my wonderland—
haven’t seen the mad hatter or march hare
for a while,
i am goth alice painted blue
a gravity of things that pulls me down
i could not escape
until you set me free.
-linda m. crate


even mermaids drown
sometimes the world is heavy,
but butterflies remind me
there are still beautiful things in this world;

songs of flowers
perfume me in their fragrant lyric—

flit and flutter
let the weight of the world pass you by
as white clouds and blue skies are
sculpted into art by the frame of your wings,

you remind me not to spend all
my time in the depths;

but to come back to the surface
to get air
because even mermaids
drown—

you remind me to take time to dance
with the trees and the flowers,
and watch the honey making bees as they
hum and sing and buzz
the weight of the world never dragging down
upon their wings.
-linda m. crate


because butterflies
sometimes i feel uneasy
in my bones

have spent my life in translation

few understand my language
or the mythology of my bones,
i have screamed at the top of my lungs
until they were raw and burning
like the angriest suns;

but butterflies come and drag me out of
my dark reveries and ask me to play—

how can i refuse these sweet souls?

so i dance in the rain,
laugh with the flowers,
and fall in love with rainbows;

when the world becomes too difficult
i remember the sun will shine again

because butterflies.
-linda m. crate


i come undone
once a butterfly
insisted on joining me
on my journey
as i took a walk on a
lonely country road,
and so i let the tiger swallowtail
come along with me;
such a friendly guy or gal
allowing me to take photos and dancing around
my ankles as if to remind me of my magic
because the day was dragging me down—
as if the universe knows
when i need angels
i always see butterflies when the world is
heaviest on my shoulders,
and i remember
that i am not atlas;
i can put down the mountains and the valleys—
because it is not the weight that kills you
just the way you carry it,
and sometimes i don’t even realize i am carrying
things that are not mine;
but the butterflies come and remind me the world
is full of beauty and magic and softness and i come undone
like a flower in bloom.
-linda m. crate


brave little butterflies
little white butterflies
dancing in the flowers

i see them
every summer

even when the other butterflies
cannot come,
they are always there

offering me solace on heavy days;

as they pass the clovers
flying through trees and grass and rain
i am reminded despite my pain

that i have the strength to continue on—

& so i go and go
like these brave little butterflies
existing in a world where so many things
could kill them

they refuse to hide, they know they are delicate.
-linda m. crate


Author:

Linda M. Crate’s works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of six poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is: More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019). She’s also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018). Recently she has published two full-length poetry collections Vampire Daughter (Dark Gatekeeper Gaming, February 2020) and The Sweetest Blood (Cyberwit, February 2020).

Manuela the Tortoise – Poetry by Cheryl Caesar

July Online Open Mic

Journey with Cheryl Caesar in the story of a tortoise! Look below to view a video of her reading!


Manuela the tortoise

What does a tortoise think? What does she feel?
She lives long and moves slow, heavy and protected.
Thirty years may pass like a sluggish dream.

We may rail against her long incarceration,
like Ricky Jackson’s, deserving of reparations —
but wonder: as a pet, was she not always captive?

Or we may cheer her escape, like Billy Hayes
fleeing on the midnight express from his thirty-year sentence —
although it seems she never scratched the door.

Or pity her stolen life, like Jaycee Dugard’s.
But, as Dugard found out, little by little,
the life you live becomes the real one.

Around her termites flashed, emissaries of light.
They live only a year or two. They feed on the trees
whose prana we block and hide in darkened rooms.
But nature always finds her way in.

In thirty years of encephalitic lethargy, Miss R,
a patient of Oliver Sacks, thought of nothing.
“It’s dead easy, once you know how.”

Turning the corners of a cerebral quadrangle.
Silently repeating seven notes of a Verdi aria.
Drawing mental maps of maps of maps.

“My posture leads to itself,” she said. Perhaps Manuela too
curled endlessly inward, a shell in a shell. Perhaps
she too repeated for thirty years (in Tortoise):
“I am what I am what I am what I am…”


Author:

Cheryl Caesar lived in Paris, Tuscany and Sligo for 25 years; she earned her doctorate in comparative literature at the Sorbonne and taught literature and phonetics. She now teaches writing at Michigan State University. She gives poetry readings locally and serves on the board of the Lansing Poetry Club. Last year she published over a hundred poems in the U.S., Germany, India, Bangladesh, Yemen and Zimbabwe, and won third prize in the Singapore Poetry Contest for her poem on global warming.  Her chapbook Flatman: Poems of Protest in the Trump Era is now available from Amazon and Goodreads.

Follow:

Facebook page: Cheryl Caesar Author
Website: http://caesarc.msu.domains/

Flatman: Poems of Protest in the Trump Era

Clouds & Intrepid Traveler – Poetry by Adrian Slonaker

July Online Open Mic

It’s a good day to read the work of Adrian Slonaker! Don’t miss his fabulous poetry below!


“Clouds”

As the sun slipped through mounds
of sour cream in the sky
the way water flowed through the
oolong tea leaves in Papa’s evening cuppa,
I imagined iridescent angels frolicking
while I lay on bendy grass
growing like the waves of whiskers that
sprouted years later
along with puberty
and anxiety
and profanity.
Now in a front aisle seat aboard
a propeller plane jerking and rocking its way
towards the Saint Lawrence River,
I peer past the
burly businessman in earbuds,
whose elbow battles mine for the armrest,
and out the cushion-shaped slab of window
into white wisps like
the fog in films featured on
Halloween horror marathons.
Trying through turbulence
not to spill a bilingually labeled
bottle of water,
I surmise that the
seraphim must be on strike.


“Intrepid Traveler”

Creeping out from quarantine
on a noiseless Sunday,
I spotted a wispy, sable-colored
spider refusing to shelter in place,
shimmying through
shifting sunlight
up an imperceptible thread
to the awning above my head
just how I once rocked
to a peak of an Alp smeared with
tourism and snow
(or was it white Toblerone?)
in a fully-packed funicular
when I was twelve
and not yet terrified of heights.
And now I feel as exposed, but
not half as carefree as
that nimble arachnid in
the wind.


Artist:

Residing near the banks of the Petitcodiac River in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee Adrian Slonaker toils as a word boffin and enjoys rock ‘n’ roll records, opals, iced coffee and ghost stories during summer thunderstorms. Adrian’s work has been published in Ez.P.ZineCaustic Frolic, The Pangolin Review and others.

I See Myself in Everything, Especially the Trees by Sara Collie

July Online Open Mic

Sara Collie shares with us her writings about trees and hope. During these challenging times, it’s a good reminder to find life in art and the scenery around us.


I see myself in everything, especially the trees 

On the morning in question, I woke up feeling incredibly calm. It had rained all night – I could practically hear the water seeping into the garden doing good when the birds woke me up at dawn with their usual singing. Everything’s growing! I thought. Ah, life! I dozed back to sleep. But then came the morning and I heard another noise which didn’t fit the usual pattern. A neighbour’s handyman hacking away at the beloved lilac bush that leans over our garden filling the air with its perfume every May. Every year I wait patiently for the buds to open. When they turn purple it means winter has really gone and we’ve made it to spring. This is no small thing. I sit outside and inhale their perfume in the dark for weeks. That morning when I went into the garden, the branches of that bush were strewn about the floor. Once he was done with them, the man hacked the branches off the nearby elder tree too, blossom, burgeoning berries and all. 

I don’t understand people who cut down trees. It makes me so sad. 

Luckily this world also contains all the poems Mary Oliver ever wrote, and there I can see that I am not alone in loving the trees and all their leaves and branches and all the things that live in them and all the birds that perch on them en route to wherever they’re flying to. Luckily, I can flick to the pages of one of her books and find a little solace. Her poem, ‘Foolishness? No, it’s not’ tells of her counting all the leaves on a tree, ‘half crazy with the wonder of it — the abundance of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort.’ I read it in the cool darkness that evening when I can’t sleep. I remember the lilac bush as it was when it was thriving, full of life. I think about how hopeless I feel now and try to remind myself that this will pass. Of course, the poems are all printed on paper so I’m just another hypocrite in a world full of people saying one thing and doing another. Nothing is ever so simple as good or bad, right or wrong. The stump of the lilac and the elder remain, mangled, mutated, but rooted in the ground, still. Hopefully they will sprout fresh branches. Plants bounce back, often much more quickly than humans do. 

Whatever their fate, at the very least, I’ve got a tiny lilac plant that self-seeded from the hacked apart bush growing in a pot. One day, years from now, when its grown and blooming for the very first time, I’m going to sit underneath its branches and whisper Mary Oliver’s poem to it in the dark.


Author:

 Sara Collie is a writer and wandering soul living in Cambridge, England. She has a PhD in Contemporary French Literature and loves gardening, wild swimming and walking in the mountains. Her writing explores the wild, uncertain spaces of nature, the ups and downs of mental health, and the mysteries of the creative process. Her poetry and prose have appeared in various online and print anthologies.

Writing on the Broken Wall & Other Poems by Sushant Thapa

July Online Open Mic

Fill your weekend with the euphonic poetry of Sushant Thapa! Step into the world he creates with his imagery.


Writing on the Broken Wall
Sometime back I read on the wall of my university: “Walls, the publishers of the poor.”
Today, I count the lockdown days
Numbering them in the calendar hung on my wall
Writing on the calendar hung on the wall
I am drawing lines of time
Unknown it is, my days
What if I count more than I will have?
This air is so thick to breathe
My heart is heavy like a stone
I am a poor man today
I wish to publish my writings on the wall
Only if the wall is broken,
For then, it will keep my plight straight
Broken will be the letters
Just like my broken plight
My sight has served me to see this world
My vision when I close my eyes will still see
This world divided by pandemic, hunger and ignorance
Across borders people have been moved by territories of their own
They want to reach home,
“Home, homeland and the pandemic” is
Bringing us together in what we have lost
Not losing the way back home we have found our existence it seems
So, I still wish to write on the broken wall.


The Old Man in the Rickshaw

He sees what others do not see,
he is on a journey.
Stationed homes and barricaded compounds
never knew his plight
Thin air blows and he is lost in it
His life was also stationed like stationed homes
when he was young and working
Now, he is out venturing
sitting in the rickshaw — he is no more
himself that he used to be.
How young is the rickshaw?
How old is he?
The road is muddy and the cool weather is blowing in the breeze
The old man is sitting in the rickshaw and chewing a gum,
the city seems new for him today.
It is his day — a day in his life
The young rickshaw puller is his friend
The road is his companion
His dog left him early
His wife was once so dearly
The city is still breathing and so is he,
in the rickshaw slow and steady
The old man is on a journey
The evening sun touches his face
He sees a half moon in the horizon,
some children dive into the pond
He waits in the rickshaw to be free and forever young.


The Taste of the Evening Tea

white milk foams till the rim of the tea cup
turning to creamy brown tea —
dark dips of tea leaves
blooms the color
I drink the color and the white rainy clouds
pour sweetness — measured in the tea cup
sugar coated vistas and hiatus of everyday
blooming reality grooms
in the sawdust of effervescent twilight
the orange sun is transparent in the
tea cup
I gulp the sun and only the tea cup stands
as a fleeting memory
of the sun
which was like an image in the evening sky
a little while ago.



What makes meaning?


Is it the ever flowing stream of words that carry meaning?
Is it the concept that draws images in one’s mind, that makes meaning?
Does the idea so subtle and particular — tend to carry affection on its own?
Does it glow for the meaning as a whole?
Is meaning same for one and all?
How poetic can a poet be?
How interpreted can his meanings be?
What is left unsaid and unknown, how meaningful can that be?
What makes sense — is it always felt close?
Can senses be forever disclosed?
When at times unpoetic becomes the poet, where hides his words?
Where lies his feelings when in winding thoughts he is reeling?


Repeating the One Night Stand

Caught in the darkness of lonely lonesome day
the night sky is falling beneath the blanket,
incomplete to both of us.
Just like one cigarette
that kept burning in the ashtray
I burned in my insides too, and
like the ashes of the cigarette
my ashes scattered all over
the room
blew out my insides
in the act and washed away the fumes,
as the ashes subsumed.
Beneath the chest of mine
I shared love with her — lies my ‘self’
so at unrest there.
I was once broken
the day was dark,
the night was cold and stories were — untold, but
the bed was unfold and manifold.


Author:

Sushant Thapa is an M.A. in English Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. He writes in English and the Nepali language. His English poems, essays, short stories and flash fictions have been published in print and online publications from Nepal and abroad including The Kathmandu Post and Republica Daily from Kathmandu, Nepal, The Writers Club or greythoughts.info from New Jersey, USA, Kitaab.org and Borderless Journal from Singapore. His Nepali poems have also appeared in print and online publications including Udghosh Daily of Biratnagar, Sahitya Post, firewordsdaily.com and khalipanna.com from Kathmandu, Nepal. Sushant revels in rock music, poetry, books and movies from his home in Biratnagar, Nepal.

Follow:

Link to some of his poems, short stories and flash fictions are given below:  

https://greythoughts.info/clubpieces/tag/Sushant+Thapa

https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/author

Black Lives Matter Artwork by Leonardo Ibanez Valenzuela

July Online Open Mic

Standing up for Black Lives Matter can be in many forms, and each one is important. Today, Leonardo Ibanez Valenzuela shares with us his remarkable BLM artwork to take in and appreciate.



Artist:

Leonardo Ibanez Valenzuela is a Chilean artist living in Venice CA. He makes visual poetry or graphic poetry, as well as masks out of recycled materials.

Follow:

Instagram: @19leonardo

www.45leo.blogspot.com