of writing [at least] a poem a day!
On November 20, 2010, I began what would become this daily writing practice.
At that time, I had no idea it would last this long. But it has proven to be something that I truly consider the highlight of every day—when I can drop down into even a brief pocket of writing space, where, as I've also realized, my preferred way of processing whatever the world gives me, is in the language of poetry.
Here's what I said in the fifth year of my daily practice in an interview with Marly Youmans:
"In a lull just before Thanksgiving last year , I read Dave [Bonta]'s November 20 observation of a pileated woodpecker inching up the trunk of a locust tree “like a pawl on an invisible ratchet” and I thought: what a cool image, what a cool word—pawl—and immediately I wanted to turn it into a poem. […] I really didn’t intend for it to turn out into the daily “devotional” that it seems to have become, but now I’m thoroughly hooked.
What I’m happiest about is how I’ve incorporated it into my daily writing practice, and that the simple rules I’ve set for myself seem to work well in terms of getting me to that place of focus and attention where there is the potential for making poetry happen. My rules are: I don’t have a fixed time for visiting The Morning Porch to read the latest line Dave’s written. But when I do, I try to respond immediately, without premeditation, composing as I go. I try not to belabor what I find in the starting “trigger”—because I don’t see myself obligated to respond via a form of poetic reportage. What happens instead is that the bit of image or language that first catches my eye or ear, meets what I bring to that moment (a combination of many things—what I may have been reading or remembering recently, what kinds of questions I might be asking that particular day). Finally, I try to do all of this in thirty minutes, forty max; I feel that if I go over this time limit I set for myself, I will be belaboring the whole enterprise too much."
What I said then still holds true. I'm so grateful for anyone who might take time to read, and to Dave Bonta for generously sharing space at Via Negativa besides opportunities for fun collaborations. .
I've just created an account on Mastodon as ThePoetsLizard @ThePoetsLizard@universeodon.com —but my other social media accounts on FB and Instagram (@poetslizard) and Twitter (@ThePoetsLizard) are still active (& let's see for how long on the latter).
Also, because I've been asked quite often lately— as far as I know, a new Poet Laureate of Virginia has not yet been appointed. (My two year term officially ended 30 June this year.)
Thank you to the Academy of American Poets and my brilliant cohort of 2021-22 Poet Laureate Fellows ~
Our collaborative poem is now live!
... is the title of a long poem commissioned by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation for its 2022 Annual Report. The poem appears on page 34 of the Report booklet.
I'm so grateful to Cherise M. Newsome for the opportunity to converse about some of the important things that make Hampton Roads the community it is, for its diverse inhabitants.
Today is my official last day as 20th Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-22).
It’s truly been an honor, privilege, and joy to serve in this capacity, and I have so many of you to thank for your unstinting and generous support.
I have a few more projects that I started during my term, that I’ll continue to see through to completion… because we need poetry now more than ever, and poetry is 4Evah amirite?
Again, thank you/mil gracias/salamat/agyamanac unay—
especially to my family, friends and students.
The Poetry Society of Virginia
The Academy of American Poets
The MFA Creative Writing Program at ODU
ODU College of Arts & Letters
Old Dominion University Libraries
The Muse Writers Center
Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS)
Today, my daughter Gabriela read a new poem that I wrote for the Unveiling and Dedication of the Virginia Historical Marker Honoring Filipino Sailors, at the Philippine CulturalCenter, Virginia Beach. (I was unable to attend because I was giving a presentation at around the same time, for the Poetry Society of Virginia's Annual Conference/Festival.)
The quote directly below this is from a 2017 article from the Filipino American National Historical Society(FANHS) website, and I used it as epigraph to the poem:
“...several thousand Filipinos had been recruited into the US Navy and other branches of the military
during the American colonial period ... As a result of increased need for personnel ... , the Navy began
recruiting Filipinos at a rate of 1,000 a year in 1952; this was increased to 2,000 annually in 1954.
Filipinos ... were limited to the steward rank until 1971, when an agreement was reached with the
Philippine State Department to discard the practice. Stewards were responsible for providing
cooking and cleaning for the ship and domestic service to officers and their families:
food service, cleaning, laundry, and chores.”
- from Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) online
* * *
by Luisa A. Igloria
20th Poet Laureate of
the Commonwealth of Virginia
Forward and bow,
the hull’s built resistance
to restive water; each port
a pin on the scalloped edge
of a map. As for leaving
an archipelago— as if
it was a simple matter
of plowing into the foam, wave
after wave turning like a page.
What of home and history?
No, not that one with a date
and an explorer’s name
attached to it, nor his
naming of our ancestors’
lands after his king.
Rather, those gridless skies
above green canopies and
mangrove forests, islands
threaded through with rivers
and streams, with fabled
animals and birds
whose songs could stun you
into stone. You’d find, coming
back to these histories,
spaces where brooks
sounded, as they cut through
forests of fern and lady
slipper orchids, as they fused
with the nightly discourse of frogs.
Sleeping volcanoes, houses on stilts
or perched on hills, their roofs
touched by the same sun that colored
the fields and shimmered the fish
which expeditions tagged,
numbered, and held in vats--
They still float in the cool
basement of a museum, part
of the hundred thousand
archives of our waters.
Fortune, we are told, favors
the bold. Fortune, we dreamed,
waited at the end of months-
long journeys as we set sail
then for a fabled land. Passage
extracts a price from everyone—
some of us, paying with our labor
on the very vessels that took us here.
But here we are today, across
the land, across the globe. We,
architects of rafts and smaller
vessels that narrow distances
between shores. We, no longer
just recruits, apprentices,
stewards. We, builders
of galleons. We, who learned
to captain our craft by the stars.
Christopher Newport University is holding its 40th annual Writers Conference 06 & 07 May 2022 (Friday and Saturday). I hope to see some of you there!
I've been kindly invited to give the 07 May/Saturday Keynote at 9:00 AM
(it's an in-person event) at the Gaines Theatre, CNU Campus ~
"Opening to the World Again: Writing Poetry From Out of This Time of Vulnerability"
Among poetry’s most powerful effects are its ability to unpeel complex layers of experience; to help us find keys which might open up spaces that were closed, hidden, unseen, unspoken. Especially, but not only in times of great difficulty, it might seem safer to keep the world at a distance. But poems offer the invitation to keep ourselves open, and the promise and grace that it is possible to make our way to the articulation of what we think we don’t even have adequate words for.
to all the lovely poets who participated in my April 2022 NaPoMo Poetry Prompt-a-Day. Your prompts were all so fantastic. Everyone can go back to revisit these prompts at the Virginia Poets Database where they are archived under "Poetry Spotlight," "National Poetry Month 2022." (And while you're there, especially if you're a VA poet, please consider submitting your information to the database.)
Another big THANK YOU to the VIRGINIA PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATORS (formerly Virginia Press Women), for the Virginia Newsmaker of the Year (2022) Award you gave me yesterday. It's an honor to join the ranks of other awardees through the years. Here are some pictures from yesterday's Awards Luncheon in Richmond; in one of them, I'm with my nominator, Gail Kent.