Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cyrano's Plume

With Cyrano de Bergerac’s dying breath, he proclaims he’s lost all but one thing: his panache. By this he means even death can’t rob him of his style, swagger, verve, dash. At the end of the play, who cares about his big nose? His spirit and pizzazz take precedence over any so-called physical flaws.

Here’s a question to ponder while you’re sitting in traffic or waiting for your coffee to brew: Does the sweeping white plume Cyrano wears atop his hat solely serve as a symbol of his flair or does its flamboyance actually fuel his inner panache?

I wrote the haiku below about a pair of shoes (big, scuffed, used) that have been adding a little spring to my step lately.
My new shoes – maroon! –
found in the Goodwill bins. No
one else wanted them!

OK, so haiku are supposed to be about nature – raindrops and cicadas and whatnot. But hey, I’m a creative writing teacher and feel obligated to model what fun it is to take a literary rule and bend it to my own purposes.

Next month, we’ll continue bending the rules in my Saturday creative writing class.

Saturday, March 15, 2014
100th Monkey Studio, 1600 SE Ankeny St.
Cost: $20 per class

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Certain Fame

Some of my creative writing students have gone pantoum crazy, writing powerful poems with a pattern of repeating lines. As for me, I’m on a little haiku kick.

After seeing an apartment called "Casa Linda," I came up with this poem:

My name, not on a
book cover, but published on
an apartment sign.

According to our former poet laureate Robert Hass, the haiku form started out as an improvisational game that Japanese writers used to play at parties. Apparently, a group of them would make poems by adding to each other's lines and riffing like jazz musicians.

In keeping with that tradition, my Saturday creative writing students will meet next week to socialize and play around with words.

If you feel like joining us, bring a pen...or maybe your saxophone.

Saturday, February 15, 2014
100th Monkey Studio, 1600 SE Ankeny St.
Cost: $20 per class

Saturday, February 1, 2014

"That's So Portland"

Before our fair city became known for its beards, microbrews and baristas, my grandmother, Myrtle L. Drahn, moved here in the 1960's. A middle-aged wife from Newberg, Oregon, she suddenly found herself single and in need of an income. She got a job at Jones Photo, rented a series of apartments in Portland and spent her free time riding the bus to Montgomery Ward (a department store) and chatting with her favorite waitresses and busboys at Roses Restaurant, which was famous for its bazillion-layer chocolate cakes and donuts the size of truck tires.

Two of the apartments she lived in when I was a kid still stand on Vista Avenue. I see them now every time our family heads to Washington Park, our picnic basket filled with a quinoa salad, some Dogfish Head Ale and maybe a plate of cookies topped with hazelnuts, which my grandmother would have known as "filberts."