Giveaway · Heart's Garden · Something to Think About

Writing Poetry

The famous and prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates was once asked,
“What do you do when you finish a novel?”
“I’m spent,” she said. “Can’t write another word of fiction. So I turn to writing poetry.”

Late Friday night, I finished stitching on the final border of the Heart’s Garden Mystery QAL (the slice of pink in the picture below). I sunk down into my sewing room chair, took a couple of photos and went to bed.

The next morning, her quip — about poetry — began boinking around in my head. I started my day by cleaning up my sewing space: emptying bins, throwing away junk-that-accumluates, vacuuming crevices and window frames. Then my husband came in and asked me to go out to lunch with him.

We happened on our town’s Saturday morning market and bought vegetables, a perfect tray of strawberries, and lunch at the local deli.

We ate outside on the plaza, escaping before the BoJangles Man set up with his amplifier, microphone and guitar.

We walked down the pedestrian mall and shared a Crème Brûlée donut complete with a crackling sugar top.

We wandered into Mrs. Tiggywinkle’s shop, and came out with this small Elenor Easterly figurine by Lori Mitchell. I sometimes find that aimless wandering and buying tchotchkes can often help a Mood.

Back home, I finished cleaning up. But I kept thinking about poetry. I used to write poetry, and was once Poet Laureate for University of California-Riverside as an undergraduate. I do have times when I hop onto Poetry Daily and just read for a while, sometimes typing in a search keyword but other times, just reading at random. It’s also great for quilt titles, if you need them.

I think, with poetry, there is an assumed connection between the external life and the interior life–one is linked to the other in a reciprocal relationship. But I feel that as well with creative or quilting projects. How I’m feeling internally will affect what I do externally, and if I’m exhausted or unsettled or wrung out, I have to deal with this. However, sometimes that creative connection is automatic — and I have to try to shut it down to relax (like wanting to take a photo of the table because it looked like it could be a quilt design or something.)

Oates’ poetry allowed her to keep creating, yet still leave the scene of her most arduous work. One example of this that we know all too well is our past two years which has kept us immersed in a strange world; many of us turned to our creative connection to help keep ourselves sane. We have all spent our two years chipping away at the gloom while trying to stay mentally and physically healthy. More than once I’ve wondered how my grandmother got through the 1918 flu, but she didn’t write about it. We’ve obviously found tiny slivers of poems (in the abstract sense) to help us — a child’s drawing, a phone call, or just taking a walk — things that can bring us back to ourself.

So after thinking about it, here were my poems for today:

I created a clean space.
I admired the completed quilt top Heart’s Garden on the design wall.
I created a space for me to listen the jet that roared through the skies, shaking our home, its contrails like two steaming taillights.
I opened the window to feel the breeze.

I let myself rest.
I let myself empty out.

Saturday afternoon, I sat at my neatened desk and read poetry, then copied and pasted two poems in below; hope you have time to glance at them.

And…I have already found two quilts that intrigue me, here and here.

(QCR’s Posh Penelope quilt, not mine)

I took a look at the quilt I started at Road, and thought I’d like to make some more blocks. I do have one extra pattern from that day, and will send it to someone, if you are interested. To enter to win the pattern, please tell me what your “poetry” is when you are wrung out–how do you restore yourself…to yourself? How do you replenish that creative urge? How do you find your way back to creating again after a long project?

Leave me a comment below!

Happy Quilting!

Links, etc.

That’s a statue of Eliza Tibbets up there in the collage, with her skirts flowing. Tradition has it that when the first batch of navel orange seedlings arrived in the United States from Brazil, she persuaded the Plant Importation Program to give her some. They sent two, and they flourished — so the story goes — because she watered them with her dishwater. (She really didn’t look like that, but I still love that statue.)

Poetry Foundation, where you can read poems daily, and from where I pulled the following two poems.
I also like Poetry.com for reading poems.

from here

My mother has gone blind over the last decade, but she sewed intricate needlepoint canvases. All three of my sisters and I worry about losing our sight. After reading this poem, I should probably take up crocheting.

poem is from the September 1918 issue of Poetry, from here

This poem is haunting, reflecting our world today, but instead of pink roses, we stitch blue and yellow patchwork. Armistice Day for World War I was a month later: November 11, 1918.

Leave a comment about what your “poetry” is, to enter the giveaway. Thanks!

23 thoughts on “Writing Poetry

  1. I’d love to see you make more Posh Penelope blocks Elizabeth. It’s a great design en mass! I’m not sure I have a way of replenishing although since our move, a dip in the sea has been a gift to mind and body! Thank you for the poems, yours and the more formally published ones.

  2. I wrote poetry for much of my life, it was a way for me to plumb and release the feeling deep inside me. And I have read poetry since I was a girl. I am so glad you have shared its importance.

  3. Though I don’t consider myself a poet at times I do ponder and consider haiku with its rhythmic possibilities.
    When I’m out of sorts self care is my go to.
    Meditate,
    Walk to the river and witness the blessings that are abound
    Sew a needle pulling thread
    Reach out and connect with family or friends
    AND when I have a larger section of time go for a hike.

    That pattern is sweet, thank you for the chance.

  4. Good morning, Elizabeth! I write haiku, usually to try to capture what another poet called a “crystal moment”. And I love your Posh Penelope block–effervescence fabric is one of my favorites.

  5. I would LOVE to have that pattern- I already have the ruler…… My poetry is baking. I put my masterpiece in the oven, get a coffee,sit on the porch and watch the birds. So calming! I’m so jealous that you got to go to a real quilt show. There have been NO quilt shows in the Northeast for 2 years, not enough population, I guess( besides Covid. )Thank you for sharing online,it’s really been a lifesaver for those of us with no access to physical quilt shops.

  6. I have Posh Penelope on my to do list! Outdoors is my refresher! We are having an early spring and it’s been good to get outside and clean up the detritus of winter. The daffodils have poked out their heads and I’m anxious to get some of the poetry that is pansy baskets!

  7. Good morning! Thanks as always for your thoughtful message. We live in rural Western Colorado, with views of a few different mountain ranges. I go out for a walk on our back roads, listen to the birds and breeze, and always take a trash bag along to give a little more purpose to my walk. 😊

  8. It sounds like your day out was just what you needed. I think the unexpected is what helps get me off the merry go round…a visit with friends, a walk along the beach or even a phone call. I enjoy reading poetry, but am not good at writing it. After reading yours, I want to see Elizabeth’s quilt. Yes! You need to do more Posh Penelope blocks. I love it.

  9. Yes I would love to make Posh Penelope blocks! My poetry when I can’t quilt is to get out in nature (weather permitting). If the weather I’d bad, I knit for charity.

  10. Congratulations on finishing your QAL project. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on poetry and refreshing. When I need a refresh a walk is often helpful. Your Penelope block is delightful!

  11. What a lovely pattern! I’ve never written poetry, but instead find my ‘poetry’ in music and my quilting, going outside to listen to the birds chirping, planning our front & back yards (the previous owner cut down ALL the trees!). In the past my primary ‘poetry’ came from listening to the leaves rustle in the trees — and I am hoping that we’ll have trees planted soon so I have that to look forward to again!

  12. My poetry is opening the glass doors of my grandmas hutch and bringing out the stacks of quilt blocks she and my great grandmother made in 1910 to 1930. Dresden plates, drunkards path and several free form embroidery blocks. I lay them out and think this might be the day I put one together….I close my eyes and I can hear them softly speaking…truly poetry in my heart.

  13. The second poem you shared is haunting and lovely all at once. I’m glad you took the time to unwind and recharge for whatever comes next in your creative projects. I don’t have a way much with words so writing isn’t my thing. My replenishment comes in the form of hiking in the mountains. The beauty of nature clears my head and reminds me of what is important in the world. Something too easily forget when home. There’s also a certain kind of visual poetry to just looking at my newly resorted stash. Each cut of fabric holds the promise of another way I can add beauty to the world. That brings me pleasure. I’ll pass on the pattern even though I love the design because I know I won’t get to it. Right now I’m in the midst of using your Poppy block as well as your Square in a Square tutorial for a couple of quilts in the works. May you be rested, renewed, and ready for a new week.

  14. Lovely post. I like your poem. ❤️

    On Sun, Mar 20, 2022 at 4:01 AM OccasionalPiece–Quilt! wrote:

    > Elizabeth E. posted: ” The famous and prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates > was once asked, “What do you do when you finish a novel?” “I’m spent,” she > said. “Can’t write another word of fiction. So I turn to writing poetry.” > Late Friday night, I finished stitching on the ” >

  15. I always feel replenished after an invigorating Peloton ride or heading out in the mountains for some back country snowmobiling. Push your boundaries and excite the mind.

  16. Such a beautiful post to start my day- thank you! Like many of your other commenters, I restore myself by walking (every day!) in a quiet, isolated place in nature, especially the woods. This centers me, shows me beauty, and clarifies my perspective on my place in the universe. I play music with friends (my instrument is the accordion) and I write haikus off and on. This short form is eminently “doable”!! I’ve had my eye on the Posh Penelope pattern and work love to have it!

  17. Beautiful post! My refresher is to go through my fabric bins. They are mostly organized but I’m famous for sticking odd cuts in them when in a hurry to straighten up! I’m amazed at some of the fabrics that I find that I can’t wait to work on!

  18. What a lovely post! Your sunny California outing… your sewing room. I love that you were a poet Laureate – makes perfect sense. Your blog posts are poetic and you find the poetry in life. I love Haiku as a form and studied it in Japan (of course). And I adore ModPo – the free online course. It feels a little like being back in college, in a good way;). I think the Posh Penelope pattern is so pretty but don’t count me in – I just have too many things on my quilt to-do list. I think a good walk is the best and I’m presently out of the habit – must get back in the habit. Oh, when I need a quilting jump-start or wind-down, I love just listening to some good music as I putter in my sewing space, straightening up, organizing things and decluttering.

  19. What a great post! Thank you for sharing with us. The Posh Penelope is beautiful! I actually just got back into my quilting. I had a quilting room all set up when we first bought our house, then we had kids who took over and I had a nursery instead. Now I’ve taken over a large chunk of our living room and the kids have ALL their stuff in their own rooms. (No more stray legos) I’ve done a couple quilts since I got back in the swing of things and in-between projects I read. I read romance, fantasy, some science fiction, some young adult. I also have been looking through blogs and books looking for projects that make me think, “I just have to do this!” I’m so glad I took that part of the house and made it just mine, I feel like I really needed it!

  20. I always so enjoy your posts, they always make me think or send my mind on an unexpected journey. It looks like you and your husband had a wonderful afternoon and that sun💛, as I look at the rain out my window. The recharge for me usually comes with a different form of quilting than I have finished. If I had been piecing, I will prep an appliqué block or do some slow stitching. My sewing just seems to be my salvation. Touching bases with friends always makes my heart sing too. I’m making progress on Heart’s Garden.❤️😊

  21. My “poetry” is to get into a “battle” with my youngest. He was a surprise, a phone call from a girl related to us who hadn’t kicked drugs and had him taken away, begging us to please go get him (our youngest was 21 at the time). He’s always been a fighter, kicking his infant drug addiction, and now we “battle” with kisses and tickles, which he loves, and fills my soul with joy as his laughter fills the rooms of our home.

  22. The poetry that mostly kept me going through the past couple of decades has been the hum of my machine stitching through the pretty fabrics that I fondle as I feed them under my foot. It kept me sane through most of the Pandemic, and I only “lost it” in January. My poetry failed me at the beginning of the month when I lost a 2 year old great granddaughter. I wasn’t able to use my machine, write or read blog posts. All I was capable of doing was sit and hand Quilt a panel which a friend had gifted me. It was the thread that held my spirit together while I learned to adjust to a world without her. I know one day, maybe soon it will be time to return to my first love; my machine, but for a while longer I’ll be content with handwork. Thank you for your posts. They always seem to touch a part of me.

  23. This was such a lovely post. I used to write poetry in college and have been meaning to search for that notebook. Your clean sewing room is beautiful. It inspires me to straighten up mine–which always helps with creativity. I don’t feel like I can work in complete chaos. I’m also intrigued by the Utopia quilt. And I have always wanted to make Posh Penelope!

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