Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Review of Weeds


The songs my mother sang to me were the first poems I heard as a child. The lyrics of many of those songs remain with me. I still sing them as I drive. Fill the dishwasher. Vacuum up the cats’ fur from the carpet.
            My mom sang poetry; my dad recited it to me as nursery rhymes. I was “Mary, Mary, quite contrary,” who was asked, “How does your garden grow?” I was that rascal Jack, nimbly jumping over a candlestick.

            My grandmother was “Old Mother Hubbard [who] went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone.” And that dog was Smokey with whom my grandmother lived, or Kentucky, my young brother’s dog.

            Songs, nursery rhymes, and then in fifth grade the required memorizing of a new poem each week: “The Owl and the Pussy Cat,” “Little Orphant Annie,” and “The Modern Hiawatha,” which was by far my favorite and which I still delight in reciting today—much to my listeners’ chagrin—some sixty-six years later.
Since those fifth grade days of being exposed to a wide range of poetic language, I’ve read and responded to poems from poets of both the past and the present. Two bloggers—Penny and Teresa Evangeline—have introduced me to a number of contemporary poets who have enriched my life in the past two years. Repeatedly poets reveal to me the light at the end of the tunnel. More often they help me realize the deep down humanity and thirst for goodness that is the essence of each of us.
And so today I want to tell you about Weeds, a book of poetry I’ve just completed by a blogger many of you may know: McGuffy Ann Morris. I’ve had the book on my bedside table for over a month now, picking it up each evening, reading a poem, and then considering what it offers me: the truths about my own experience of life.
In Weeds, Morris offers us the wisdom of the years she’s spent here on this planet we call Earth. It is a wisdom hard won and for that reason treasured. She is both observer and muse. Here are just three samples of her poetic observations:

            From “Book”
            Life is an open book
            Each person a character
            pasted on a page of time.

            From “Battle”
            I go back in time,
            the battlefield of memories.
            I need to recapture
            Moments lost, moments stolen,
            Looking for myself
            As I really am, not as you
            Perceive me to be.

            From “Median”
            Reflections fade into shadows.
            What I once was has faded;
            What I am yet to be becomes clear.
            I did not choose to be here,
            To be a part of this.
            Forever now will I be both
            Reflection and shadow.
           
In Weeds, Morris moves back and forth between the antipodes of life—from difficult to glorious. As a reader I saw her struggles as well as her triumphs. And yet, as with all poems that come from the depths of the human experience, I also found myself for she presents the realities of our lifelong journey through time and space, memory and experience.
The only slight hesitancy I had in reading Weeds is that I’ve come to enjoy unrhymed poetry more than rhymed. Several of Morris’ poems rhyme and when I first read them I found myself testing out the rhymes rather than reading for what the poem had to offer me in terms of my own experience of life. But as soon as I reread without stressing rhyme, I discerned the message that existed—for me—within the poem.
That is, I believe, a sign of good poetry—that it speaks to the human condition as each of us live out that condition in our own lives. I encourage you to read Weeds and to find yourself within its poems.
As Morris says on the book cover of Weeds, which I believe is her anthem to life, “There comes a time to assess and to weed our lives, in order to find value in the harvest. This book is a culmination of personal lifetime experiences and observations. To each, their own.”


46 comments:

  1. Thank you. It is my hope that Weeds will speak to people. I am glad it spoke to you.

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    1. Dear McGuffy Ann, I trust that "Weeds" will speak to anyone who comes to it with an open heart and mind. And bloggers tend to do that! Peace.

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  2. I read poetry every day and if I find one that really speaks to me I post it on my poetry blog.

    These examples of McGuffy Ann you present speak to me also, they are the poems of a woman who has lived a life rich in experience and knowledge. I will have to find out more about her.

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    1. Dear Friko, I'm glad to know that the two of us share a love of poetry. I didn't realize you have a poetry blog. I will look at it in the next few days. Peace.

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  3. I've come late to love poetry, but now I read it often. You did a wonderful job of spotlighting this book and I'm going to put it on my tbr list for this summer. Thank you!

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    1. Dear Shelly, remember that line "late have I love Thee" that St. Augustine said centuries ago. He was talking about the God he came to worship, but those words can apply to anything that we come to as with age. And I think it's because we're aging that so many things--like poetry and art--speak of commonality and Oneness to us as never before. Peace.

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  4. What a nice review, and how lovely that you memorized a new poem every week during fifth grade. I don't think the public schools require enough memorization now. It's a pity because it trains one's mind. I can still recite some of A.A. Milne's poetry.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Dear Janie, Sister Mary Lee, who visited our fifth-grade classroom each week would bring copies of the poem for the week. They were duplicated on what was known as a hectograph or jellygraph and thus the words were purple. Then she'd call on each of us, one by one, to recite the poem she'd handled out the previous week. If we had it memorized she'd place a star sticker on the sheet. I don't know what happened to all my starred sheets but I treasured them as a child. Peace.

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  5. I think I look forward to your posts more than anyone's. And I just spent 10 minutes researching "Little Orphant Annie" which was fascinating.

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    1. Dear Therese, thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you found the poem by Riley. The other one--The Modern Hiawatha--is a real tongue-twister. And I love it!!!!
      Peace.

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  6. This post illustrates one of the many good things about reading blogs - being introduced to other people's discoveries in literature and art. I love to learn of new writers and have a ever-growing list of names to explore. Thanks for this, Dee.

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    1. Dear Perpetua, I'm so glad that you'll be adding McGuffy Ann's name to your list. And I so agree with you that this is "one of the many good things about reading blogs." Peace.

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  7. Neat, Dee.... I enjoy poetry--but have no talent when it comes to writing it myself. WEEDS sounds like a neat book...

    I remember all of the old songs also --including the nursery rhymes. Don't think kids know them these days... Kinda sad!

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. Dear Betsy, I can just see you belting out those old Cole Porter songs and Moss Hart and Oscar Hammerstein and Gershwin as you walk the trails with your husband! You could even be singing that more modern song--"The hills are alive with the sound of music!" Peace.

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    1. Dear Fishducky, it truly is a lovely book. I so look forward to ordering your book--"Fishducky's Fables"--on Friday as an ebook. Peace.

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  9. I was “Mary, Mary, quite contrary,” < I was Mary too ;).

    I love finding messages nestled cozily in poems & other short writings. Sometimes I am afraid they reveal some bias on my part; that I find what I want to. ~Mary

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    1. Dear Mary, I bet you were quite contrary because I bet you've always been aware of the many foibles within yourself and all the rest of us. All of us just muddling through. And I think that once the poet or the novelist writes the book and puts it out there for others to read then whatever they take from it that fits where they are in life and who they are the time is quite fine. Of course, we always find what we look for in our experiences. And if we find the words that soothe us or entertain us or inform us than so much the better. Peace.

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  10. Sounds fantastic. I may need to check it out. :)

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  11. Sounds like a collection of thoughtful poems....

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    1. Dear Molly, that's exactly what "Weeds" is--"a collection of thoughtful poems." Peace.

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  12. I still remember having to paste on that wee smile whenever any grownup met me as a little girl, because not a one of them could resist saying "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?" to which there was no really good response. I haven't heard it in years. Then again, I've been going by Murr for years. So now all I get is "Merv? Murph? Merle? How do you spell that?"

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    1. Dear Murr, I do so sympathize with you about confusion with names. My legal name is Anna Dolores, but I've gone by Dee since my freshmen year in college. So when a receptionist at a doctor's office calls, "Anna," I frequently don't answer and just look around to see who rises. Then I realilze, "It's me! She's calling me!" and I jump to my feet. Peace.

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  13. What a wonderful review. And, since the ones you qoted sang to me rather than merely speak I am going to have to track it down sooner rather than later. Thank you so much - and a big thank you to McGuffy Ann Morris

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    1. Dear EC, I'm glad those McGuffy Ann's words "sang" to you. I think "Weeds" is a treasure trove that represents maturing and aging as a woman today. Peace.

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  14. Kids in state schools read poetry but don't have to learn it by heart. A shame as once learnt, it stays with you through life.

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    1. Dear Annie, it is a shame that children don't memorize poetry today. When I began to teach in 1960, I continued the tradition and had the students memorize poetry or a few paragraphs from famous prose each week. I so enjoy discovering a bit of poetry that I memorized over sixty years ago coming back to me. Peace.

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  15. I absolutely love "Weeds." This is a wonderful review.

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    1. Dear Elisa, I'm glad you enjoyed the review. I surely enjoyed writing it! Peace.

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  16. Oh, dear Dee, this sounds wonderful and I will be looking for "Weeds". The lines you quote here intrigue me, such as that very last one "Forever now will I be both Reflection and shadow".
    Thank you for this recommendation, and for the mention. It is always my hope that our words reach each other in ways that make us think, expand our horizons, teach us new things, remind us of who we are. It is amazing what I've learned through blogging.

    I hope you are feeling better. It was good to see you had posted. I've been slow at posting lately. Life has been in a bit of spin cycle.

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    1. Dear Penny, I surely understand life being "in a bit of spin cycle." Everyday I think I'll get back to researching the novel I'm writing and everyday things pop up or the barometer goes berserk and I simply while away the day. Peace.

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  17. I have never been intersted in poems I don't know why although there are a few that I like but mostly they just have never interested me

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    1. Dear Jo-Anne, as my mom used to say to me, "'Everyone to their own desires,' said Mrs. O'Malley as she kissed the cow!" At that time, I didn't really understand that she was telling me we're all different. I only understood that she said this every time I wondered why someone had done something or said something that was different from the way I thought and acted. But Mom finally got across to me that we all are different. Some of us like poetry and some don't!!!!! Peace.

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  18. Dear Dee,

    I have always loved poetry, and, like you, memorized many in my youth. I wish I could say that I remember them all, but being able to recite some of them, makes me feel good

    I will check out Weeds. Since you have read many of the poems and admire her writing, I am sure that I will also.

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    1. Dear Arleen, yes, like you I feel good when I can come up with even the beginning lines of those poems I memorized so long ago. Please do check out "Weeds." It may speak to you as well. Peace.

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  19. What a lovely tender book. I must check it out, and read her poetry. Thank you for introducing her to us bloggers!

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    1. Dear Susan, you're welcome! And enjoy. Peace.

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  20. I delight when reading childhood poems- years melt away- inner child appears and wants to play.

    I marvel at your writing style and friendship towards other authors. Thanks for the snippets from Weeds.

    Peace to you also Dee- be well n Happy :)

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    1. DEar Pam, I so like to support other writers in their publishing endeavors. I believe that's all part of our being One with each other. And of course that old adage--what goes around, comes around--is true also. May you also be happy as you walk the byways and paths of Florida and take your awe-some photographs that bring nature home to all of us who read your blog. Peace.

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  21. Dee
    How unique that your Mother sang nursery rhymes. I guess my Grandmother did too but it seemed so natural I had almost forgotten until I read this post.

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    1. Dear Manzanita, that's the thing about blogging!!! We forget and then someone writes a post and we remember some incident from our life that's been buried for years. And we can take it from the treasure trove of our memory and cherish it again. Peace.

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  22. I remember reading nursery rhymes from a book in the basement, but I didn't know you could sing them. Leave it to your mother, Dee. :)

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    1. Dear Rita, yes, Mom was a wonder! I'm so glad that you've left a comment here because that tells me you are indeed feeling better. Peace.

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  23. I have a book of poems that belonged to my mother. It is dated in the 1920s and almost falling apart. My two favoreds were, The Owl and the Pussy Cat, and The Highwayman. Yes, poems are short stories with much in life to learn from.

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    1. Dear Crystal Mary, oh, yes, I'd forgotten "The Highwayman." The road was a ribbon of moonlight....isn't that the line? I so remember visualizing everything that happened in that poem. Thank you for reminding me of it. Peace.

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