A Book of Days

Not about traditional saints and feast days,
not devotional almanac, calendar, or scrapbook clippings –
not my journal. Not any of those
but all of those. Life logbook through time.
Capture one good line, images, in words.

I had some interest in publishing the poems here as a book, and the question came up, “How important are the accompanying images?” Some are mine. Some are open-sourced or public domain. In my podcast version of the website, the mages are gone (as well as the links). How much is lost?

This poem and post were inspired by seeing an interview with Patti Smith who just published her visual A Book of Days. It has photographs of her daily coffee, books she’s reading, gravesites, and daily images accompanied by short text – “captions” but sometimes seeming poetic. She is a poet, as well as a musician, photographer, and writer of other things.

The project came out of her use of Instagram and acceptance of an iPhone as a camera. She takes a photo of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s hat or her partner Fred “Sonic” Smith’s guitar. Things from people she knew. If they have died, then the object remains unused. Objects she does use, such as eyeglasses, writing implements, and manuscripts.

Like Smith, if I am in a café, I have my phone and a notebook nearby. I do record the days. This site in its first year was a kind of book of days with 365 poems and images. But I don’t know what interest a publisher or the public would have in my book of days. I’m not a Patti Smith.

On this day – #338 in the year, she wrote “19 NOVEMBER: Bruno Schulz, the brilliant Polish writer, was shot in the street by a Gestapo officer on this date in 1942. Much of his writing, including a work called The Messiah, was tragically lost in the war. This is Jim Carroll’s heavily thumbed copy of Schulz’s masterpiece The Street of Crocodiles.”

The Ronka Leaves the Nest

I think my ronka poetry form has, for me at least, left the nest. I have now crossed the 100 podcasts mark. I have done 80 of those so far in 2022 (which is Season 2). There are about 830 ronka poems on the website, so the podcast is still far behind though I do try to add poems from the archive once a week too.

There are almost 2400 followers of the site, which is a bigger audience than I have ever had at a poetry reading. The podcast doesn’t have a following like that. Then again, I don’t do much to promote it. I just imagine people will find it if they are searching for poetry on any of the platforms I have put them on. The most popular places to listen are Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Anchor, and Google Podcasts. They are also on Pocket Casts, RadioPublic and Breaker.

If you haven’t tried the podcast versions of the poems, give one of those links a try. The programs only run for one to maybe three minutes, so it’s not a big time investment. I wasn’t sure if I would keep the poems going all this time – but I have kept it at least a weekly habit after my 365 poems practice in 2014. I’m not sure about the podcast – but I’ll keep at it until the end of 2022 at least and finish season 2.

Poems About Hope

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com

A friend who was going through this website trying to find a particular poem she remembered as being “about hope” did a search and was surprised to see how many poems have “hope” in their title. Even more poems use the word.

Maybe she doesn’t think of me as very hopeful. I don’t usually describe myself as an optimist or hopeful, but I’m not a pessimist and I do often feel hopeful about things.

The poem “Hope is the thing with feathers” is a poem by Emily Dickinson that inspired several of my poems. I’m not sure that Emily is all that hopeful in that poem and not all my “hope poems” are what you might describe as hopeful.

Several of the hope-titled poems have already been done as podcasts – Hope Is the Thing With Buds, Hope Is Also the Bud in Snow and The Thing with Feathers Flies Away

I will add podcasts this week for some others, such as Hope is a contract…, Hope in the Harvesting, and The Geography of Hope. It will be a week of hope because hope can appear in unexpected places like looking at the stars or in the back pages of a journal on a sad day.

Listening to Someone Else Reading Your Poem

On another blog of mine, I post occasionally about what I am listening to in the podcast/online/radio world.  One daily podcast I enjoy is The Writer’s Almanac which has been on radio since 1993 and, sadly, it will be ending after May 2022. It ran on public radio through 2017 and those episodes are archived online. Later, the show was available as a podcast and online on the Garrison Keillor’s website.

Garrison Keillor

I had listened to Garrison Keillor starting in 1974 on his radio show A Prairie Home Companion. I loved that voice and his ad-libbed weekly stories of the fictional town of Lake Wobegon.  I went on to read his short stories and novels. You can label him an author, storyteller, humorist, voice actor, and radio personality. He hosted that show through 2016 when he retired and passed the reins over to others.

I was lucky to have four of my poems featured on the Almanac and read by Keillor. I really enjoy hearing other people read my poems and that is not something I get to experience very often. It is interesting to hear the little spins and turns that someone else will take with your words.

I am posting links to those poems here – even though they are not my usual ronka poems. You can read the poems online, but I strongly recommend that you listen to him read the poems. The poems are at the end of the program, so you could fast-forward through the news, but I enjoy the almanac news about the day as much, sometimes even more, as the poem.

This photo shows the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey. This Gothic beauty was the original setting and inspiration for my poem, “Shame.”

The Alamanac program featured two of my serious poems – “The Light We Leave Behind,”- and “Shame, They also selected two poems that have the tongue at least partially in the cheek . The first is “Who Shows Up at My Poetry Reading” and the second is titled “Somewhat Optimistic Horoscopes.” I was also asked to record a video of myself reading some of those poems for their YouTube channel.

“Who Shows Up at My Poetry Reading” portrays the kinds of people I actually have had show up at poetry readings. The poem often gets laughs when I read it, though fellow poets may be more likely to just nod in recognition.

My poem, “Somewhat Optimistic Horoscopes,” came from reading my horoscope online. Those short-form horoscopes tend to be pretty positive, though you might get a cautionary prediction once in a while. What I thought was missing were ones that were somewhere in-between.

The Voices

Poems are said to have a voice. I found one definition that says that voice, simply put, is the person behind the words that speaks to the audience. The literal voice is, of course, the person reading or reciting the words, but that is not what poets really think about when they discuss voice.

Voice is made up of many poetic elements such as tone, imagery, rhythm, diction, punctuation, and more. These things work together to give a unique color and expression to our words. Voice builds an overall style or point of view of the poet. We can think of it as the voice inside the reader’s head. It is the voice that is heard even if the words are on paper or a screen.

For podcasts, a poem has a literal voice. We can use a synthetic voice to record a podcast version of the website post. For example, this post is being read by the voice of Remy.

Yesterday, I posted four poems from this site using the synthetic voice of Cassidy. Those posts are each just a poem. That is 35 words. They are not really meant for podcasting. 35 words will clock in at less than a minute each. That is not exactly what people expect for a podcast, but when I started this project back in 2014, a podcast version of the poems was not part of the plan.

I do plan to record some of the older poems that seem to have attracted the most attention over the past nine years. I’ll record them in my own voice – that is, Ken will record them. And he will probably add some background about the poem as he has been doing lately which will increase the length of the podcast a bit. Perhaps up to a few minutes in length.

(It is strange to write this post in a kind of third person, but if the “I” is Remy reading, rather than Ken reading, it needs to be that way.)

Will the “I” be Remy or Ken in future podcasts?  I think it will be Ken’s voice. But there may still be a place for Remy and Cassidy along the way.



The photo used to illustrate this post is by George Milton and is available on Pexels.com

Podcast Note

I have been delinquent in my recording of poems from this site for the podcast version of Writing the Day.

I am recording several of the new poems today and I will release one each day for the next week or so.

I sometimes feel like I’m sending these out into the deepest corners of the universe but no one hears them. But then I look at the analytics for the podcasts and see the countries that have listened and the platforms they used to listen and I realize there is someone out there hearing them.

countries

Contries Accessing the Podcast

 

platforms

Platforms Used

 

If you have listened and have any comments or suggestions, you can put them on this post.