Poet Annie Finch is giving a day-long class at my house February 20, 2016. There are still a few places open. [See flyer below]. A decade or so ago I was lucky to attend powerful writing gatherings such as “A Room of Her Own” at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference), and West Chester Poetry Conference in Pennsylvania, places where recognized word masters opened my perception of poetry and let in fresh air.
Annie Finch was present with her gentle strength and delight in well-chosen words. She read in Berkeley when her book Calendars came out in 2003, and I found myself reading with her from the poem of that name, “A poem in chants for four voices.” I was Demeter reading: …make me our shadows/ as I reach for flowers. With Annie I always felt like I was “in the band,” a very rare feeling in the unspoken hierarchy of recognized poets.
After my second time at the West Chester Poetry Festival I received an offer, probably from Kim Bridgford, a list of poets willing to engage one-on-one with a skype or phone conference meetings. Annie’s name was there. I requested her. For the last three years she has looked over many of the poems I have written. She is a perfect editor for metric poetry. Correcting patterned poems is a rare specialty. You need to hold a deep understanding of metrics and rhyme. I write about Fatima, a lesser known woman in history. Annie, a feminist, has been supportive of the vision I hold of this seventh century Arabian women’s stories.
Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote that “motion is the significance of life, and the law of motion is rhythm.” That is the first sentence of chapter two Annie Finch’s magnificent book, The Poet’s Ear. This is a coincidence that stunned me. She is not directly connected to our Sufi family founded by Hazrat Inayat Khan! The book is a profound work that shares metrics in a way I could apply directly to what I was writing. When I read it I was in a writing residency at Ragdale Foundation in Illinois. I began to explore dactyllics, and hendecasyllabics, (rhythmic patterns)—like finding a skateboard-of-words after years of riding the red wagon.
If you look her up on the internet, Annie Finch has a rich presence: her poems, her many books, The on-line Poet Craft Circles Community, and her work with bringing women and nature forward in The American Witch. For these reasons and her good-heartedness, I am very happy to offer a container for her to connect with writers and lovers-of-words. I’ll end with a poem she wrote. Listen to the rhythmic music of each phrase:
Chain of Women
These are the seasons Persephone promised
as she turned on her heel—
the ones that darken, till green no longer
bandages what I feel.
Now touches of gold stipple the branches,
promising weeks of time
to fade through, finding the footprints
she left as she turned to climb.
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