Poetry Friday: Thinking for Berky

CYBILS News: Thanks to a wonderful year in poetry and those who submitted nominations, the poetry category has over forty books to considered. Woohoo!

On my way into school Wednesday morning, a colleague asked, “Do you know the poem from William Stafford that has the line, ‘justice will take us millions of intricate moves‘? I said no but I would research it and get back to him. I wish I knew all the Stafford poems however he was prolific.

Here it is:

Thinking For Berky by William Stafford

In the late night listening from bed

I have joined the ambulance or the patrol

screaming toward some drama, the kind of end

that Berky must have some day, if she isn’t dead.

The wildest of all, her father and mother cruel,

farming out there beyond the old stone quarry

where highschool lovers parked their lurching cars,

Berky learned to love in that dark school.

Early her face was turned away from home

toward any hardworking place; but still her soul,

with terrible things to do, was alive, looking out

for the rescue that—surely, some day—would have to come.

Windiest nights, Berky, I have thought for you,

and no matter how lucky I’ve been I’ve touched wood.

There are things not solved in our town though tomorrow came:

there are things time passing can never make come true.

We live in an occupied country, misunderstood;

justice will take us millions of intricate moves.

Sirens will hunt down Berky, you survivors in your beds

listening through the night, so far and good.

“Thinking for Berky” is from The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems, by William Stafford (Graywolf Press, 1998). Used by permission of the Estate of William Stafford.”

Haunting, isn’t it? Don’t you wonder About Berky?I contacted Kim Stafford to ask if I could use the poem and if he knew about Berky. He said this, “All I know about Berky is what my aunt Mar told me: “Berky was one of those nurses Bill used to run with.” Must be a story there!”

If you would like to see the original drafts of the poem, go HERE.

Poetry Friday is hosted at Live Your Poem.
Happy Reading.

Poetry Friday: Window by Irene Latham

On Wednesday, I featured an interview with Irene Latham. Today she shares this poem with us:


A poem is a sheet of glass
Tucked between wood frames.
Your world will be transformed
When you peek through the panes.

Lift the sash just a crack
Catch the scented words
Breathe deep the new syllables
This moment has stirred.

Now find yourself in the glass,
trace reflection with a finger –
These lines are made to shift and turn,
Embrace the ones that linger.

Work it till it sparkles
Even clouded glass can shine
Discover the beauty that happens
When streak and speck entwine.

Take it line by line,
Be transparent with your heart
A poem isn’t choosy –
sunlight or moonbeam: start.

Poetry Friday is held at Teaching Young Writers

Happy reading.

Poet Interview: Irene Latham

This month Irene Latham comes to visit here at Check It Out.  She’s been busy lately with writing, editing and her new book, Don’t Feed the Boy, coming out next week.  I love where she likes to read and write and I have to find out more about zentangling.

Your Reading Life

 MsMac: What books are on your night stand?

Irene: I have a book of poems on loan from a friend, APPROACHING ICE by Elizabeth Bradfield, and a stack of books I picked up last month at Southeastern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) trade show: LIFE AFTER LIFE by Jill McCorkle, DOES THIS CHURCH MAKE ME LOOK FAT? by Rhoda Janzen, HAPPILY EVER MADDER (Misadventures of a Mad Fat Girl) by Stephanie McAfee, THE DARK UNWINDING by Sharon Cameron, THE WEDDING DRESS by Rachel Hauck

 MsMac: What was your favorite book as a child? As a teen?  As an adult? What particular genre stands out?

Irene: Like many kids, I loved Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. Also, the LITTLE HOUSE books and BLACK STALLION series. As I got older, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE MISTS OF AVALON. As an adult, my all-time favorite is THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton.

 MsMac: Where’s your favorite reading spot?

Irene: My bed!

MsMac: What are your thoughts about ereaders versus a book? Do you have an ereader?

Irene: A few years ago I cleaned my house of about 3,000 books. I thought, what are these books doing here, just decorating the shelves? I decided that if I couldn’t remember the book, or if I hadn’t marked any pages, it needed to go on to live a happier life with some other reader. So the non-accumulation factor of ereaders really suits me. I also drive a lot, so I fill that time with audiobooks. But my favorite books? I need to see and feel the words on the page.

 MsMac: I agree with you about the need to see and feel the book.  I have yet to read a book on my IPad.  I have thinned my book collection and now use the library a lot.

 Your Writing Life

MsMac: What does a day of work look like for you? What is your favorite time of day to write?

Irene:  I tend to write in spurts. When I’m drafting a new book I’ll work pretty intensively for 6 weeks – a morning session and an afternoon session – then I might not write at all for the next six weeks. My husband and I run a small business and we have three sons, so those intensive weeks are tough on everyone… and the non-writing weeks are essential!

 MsMac: Writing the first draft or revising? Which is your favorite?  

Irene: My favorite part of the writing process is really the very beginning, when an idea first forms, and I’m so excited to discover if it really is viable.  I usually write 3 chapters right away, and I love that part. And then… it’s a struggle to keep going. I am always so proud when I get to “the end” of a first draft. And later, yes, it is so gratifying after the struggle through revisions to realize how much my story has grown.  It’s just all that in-between stuff that’s hard. J

 MsMac: What does your writing space look like?

Irene: My “office” is the corner of our dining room. But I actually write a lot while in bed and also in a recliner next to a window that overlooks our wooded backyard. I like to be able to doze in and out of writing… my brain solves story problems that way.

MsMac: What are your current projects?

Irene: I have another contemporary middle grade novel on submission, and I’m in the first draft stage of something so tender yet that I can’t risk sharing, as I am easily deflated when others don’t feel the same enthusiasm I do. So I have learned (the hard way) to let it grow and develop into something less fragile before going public. But I can tell you that I will soon start edits on my first collection of poems for children, DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST. It’s set at an African water hole and will be released by Millbrook Press/Lerner in 2014.

MsMac: What advice do you have for poets of any age?
Irene: Go out and live a life worth writing about.

 MsMac: What might readers find you doing when you’re not writing?  Reading, scrapbooking, zentangling, quilting, taking a walk, taking a nap, carpooling, going to the movies, going to a play, going to an art festival, going to Walmart, going, going, going….


About Don’t Feed the Boy  

 MsMac: Where did you find the inspiration for Don’t Feed the Boy? Irene: Inspiration for this novel came from three primary sources:

My love of animals and history as a teen zoo volunteer – for a while I thought I’d like to be a zoo vet!

My past adventures growing up with 3 brothers.  (Thank goodness for that   sweet sister who softened everything.)

My current adventures parenting 3 sons.

 MsMac: What treasures did you discover in writing this book?

Irene: I discovered “escape” is a theme I return to again and again. Also, I discovered how freedom can be a complicated thing. Also, on a lighter note – who knew there was such a thing as monkey chow (like dog chow, but for monkeys) and that elephants like to eat it, too?!

MsMac: What do you hope readers take away?  

Irene: I hope readers enjoy Whit and Stella’s adventures in friendship and finding where they belong, and that readers enjoy discovering the behind-the-scenes world of the zoo.

  Just for Fun

 MsMac: Chocolate: Dark or milk?   

Irene: Dark

 MsMac: Coffee or tea?

Irene: Tea

 Dance: funky chicken or the tango?
Irene: Tango

 Favorite Quote:

“Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.” – Ray Bradbury

Happy Reading.