Dr Niamh On The Plum Tree

Childhood Imagination Sows Seeds of Future Brilliance

The Wednesday Poetry Corner With Jamie Dedes

Introducing to the Plum Tree, Jamie Dedes. Jamie is a very intelligent writer and runs a poetry blogazine: Into The Bardo. I have been struck by Jamie’s clarity and thoughtfulness in all she writes and produces. I am sure she will become a hot favourite ontheplumtree as she shares her thoughts and fascinating  insights with us. Thank you Jamie for being this week’s guest.

By Jamie Dedes41QCPusU8DL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

“We go on to poetry; we go on to life. And life is, I am sure, made of poetry. Poetry is not alien – poetry is . . . lurking round the corner. It may spring on us at any moment.” Jorge Luis Borges, This Craft of Verse

Poems clutter the landscape of my mind with bite-sized portions easily committed to memory, ready to be pulled out in a moment of need or want. I like to think of poetry as literary dim sum, which means “touch the heart.” And poems do spring themselves on me and touching the tender places. Depending on the poem and the poet, they may also tickle my funny bone, stimulate my intellect, or affirm some insight. In the art of living hugely, poetry is warp and weft.

Whether I am writing poetry or reading it, poetry gifts to me those blessed eureka moments, the moments when I understand myself or another, can put a name to the demons, or simply realize that I am not alone in my joy or sorrow. Think of W. H. Auden’s Funeral Blues and the simple line, “Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.” I am getting older, approaching elderly, and though I am always making new friends, I’m of an age where I lose a friend or two each year. Bereft at the loss of someone precious and shocked that the earth hasn’t stood still, I think of this line and know that in this circumstance, everyone feels what I do . . .

. . . and all it takes is one disappointment in love to relate to Mad Girl’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath, “I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed/And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane./(I think I made you up inside my head.)

Of the many poets I dearly love, I particularly appreciate Ruth Stone for her quality of giving things their true names and for the practicalities embedded in her poems. “Dear children,/You must try to say/Something when you are in need./Don’t confuse hunger with greed;/And don’t wait until you are dead.”

Ruth Stone was an American poet and poetry teacher born into an impoverished family at Roanoke, Virginia in 1915. She lived most of her life in rural Vermont, attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, won many awards for her poetry and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her last collection, What Love Comes To: New & Selected Poems (2008). She was wry, bold, conversational, edgy, philosophical and used the language and imagery of the natural sciences to good effect. Her second husband, the poet Walter Stone, committed suicide leaving her with three young children and an experience that indelibly etched itself on her life, heart and poetry. She once remarked that she spent the rest of her life writing to him.

Not Expecting an Answer

This tedious letter to you,
what is one Life to another?
We walk around inside our bags,
sucking it in, spewing it out.
Then the insects, swarms heavier
than all the animals of the world.
Then the flycatchers on the clothesline,
like seiners leaning from Flemish boats
when the seas were roiled with herring.
This long letter in my mind,
calligraphy, feathery asparagus.

When Ruth Stone won the Whiting Writers’ Award, she got plumbing for her house. When she received the Walter Cerf Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts at the National Book Awards, she said “I’ve been writing poetry or whatever it is since I was five or six years old, and I couldn’t stop, I never could stop. I don’t know why I did it.… It was like a stream that went along beside me, you know, my life went along here . . . and all along the time this stream was going along. And I really didn’t know what it was saying. It just talked to me, and I wrote it down. So I can’t even take much credit for it.”

Ruth Stone died in 2011 leaving behind thirteen collections of literary dim sum. This poem, which gave its name to a collection that I just purchased, is a new favorite.

In the Next Galaxy

Things will be different.
No one will lose their sight,
their hearing, their gallbladder.
It will be all Catskills with brand
new wrap-around verandas.
The idea of Hitler will not
have vibrated yet.
While back here,
they are still cleaning out
pockets of wrinkled
Nazis hiding in Argentina.
But in the next galaxy,
certain planets will have true
blue skies and drinking water.

In the scant two-minute video that follows, the writer Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) shares the revealing story of her meeting with Ruth Stone.


About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamhchildrensbooks.com

23 comments on “The Wednesday Poetry Corner With Jamie Dedes

    October 2, 2013

    Such a lovely contribution by dear Jamie.. one of my earliest friends from the blogging life and a great source of support and inspiration for me. I just can’t get enough of her write and it inspires me truly. ” the moments when I understand myself or another, can put a name to the demons, or simply realize that I am not alone in my joy or sorrow..” So true! I am so happy to read this vastly gifted writer and wish her every happiness .


    • ontheplumtree
      October 2, 2013

      Yes, she is very fine, Reena and it is a pleasure to feature her here.


  2. Pingback: The Wednesday Poetry Corner With Jamie Dedes | On The Plum Tree | BUTTERFLIES OF TIME

  3. Jamie Dedes
    October 2, 2013

    Thank you, Niamh, for including me – and Ruth Stone – in your very fine blog.


  4. Jamie Dedes
    October 2, 2013

    Reblogged this on THE POET BY DAY, the journey in poem and commented:
    I found my way to Niamh’s blog and books by way of poet Reena Prasad (Butterflies of Time) when Reena reblogged a post form Niamh’s On the Plum Tree. Subsequently, Niamh visited me here and asked me to write something for her Wednesday Poetry Corner. I was happy to do it, especially since I have been anxious to write about Ruth Stone, an earthy poet whose work I have long admired. If you haven’t encountered Ruth Stone yet, I hope you will enjoy meeting her today.

    I’ve just finished reading Niamh’s “The Coming of the Feminine Christ,” which I enjoyed, and I’ve also recently asked Niamh to join us on “Into the Bardo” where she will share with us her wonderful sense of the numinous.


    • ontheplumtree
      October 2, 2013

      It’s lovely to have you visit us on the plum tree. I also love Reena’s work. She is a wonderful poet. I am glad you enjoyed my book: The Coming Of The Feminine Christ…It is deeply esoteric and not for the faint-hearted!


  5. mwahabu75mohammed
    October 2, 2013

    hello my dear i love u so mach this is fist time i met u my dear i rely loveu


  6. Liz Rice-Sosne
    October 2, 2013

    Jamie is a light within the darkness.


  7. Victoria Ceretto-Slotto
    October 2, 2013

    Jamie is one of my favorite people, Niamh. I’ve seen your comments on “Into the Bardo,” and am so happy to discover you. I will be on the lookout for “The Coming of the Feminine Christ.” Thank you for featuring Jamie…she is a gift.


  8. Uncle Tree
    October 2, 2013

    Hello, Niamh! 🙂 I’m glad you ran into Jamie. Good choice for a Corner spot. I met this smart and talented lady on WordPress a couple years ago – pretty much the same way I met you – by happy accident, while doing some cruising through poetry “tags”. And now, here we are. You’re building quite a team, my good Dr.

    Hi there, Jamie! 🙂 Small world, yes. Great to have you along! You’re very good at journalism also, I see. I’m rubbing elbows with more than a few master plums here on Niamh’s tree. Good golly! Good work!

    I can’t remember reading Ruth Stone, but I like the two examples you posted for us. The associations her mind brings to the fore as she writes, make for a very flavorful read. Fluid lucidity, yes. My thirst is quenched.


    • ontheplumtree
      October 3, 2013

      Yes! It is serendipity, Uncle Tree. I do not get the chance to blog crawl Lol! But the quality of some people’s replies attract me to their blog sites, and then I discover that same quality running through the veins of their writing. It takes me a long time to develop blogging relationships because I always leave comments on sites that attract me. Nice comments Keith. Thank you.


  9. dreamingthruthetwilight
    October 3, 2013

    Some writings touch a core and there is instant resonance. Jamie’s writings are like that. So proud to know her.


    • ontheplumtree
      October 3, 2013

      And many thanks to you for your visit. Great to make your acquaintance.


  10. PoetJanstie
    October 3, 2013

    Huzzah! Here’s to an insightful, informative and very generous spirit. Jamie Dedes, I salute you!


    • ontheplumtree
      October 3, 2013

      Many thanks for your lovely comments for Jamie. Thank you for your visit PoetJanstie


  11. PoetJanstie
    October 3, 2013

    P.S. I saw that TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert a year or two ago and found her and it very memorable, particularly her Ruth Stone story about racing against this storm of words – rather left me with an image of the head of her muse, body comprised of a comet tail, periodically shooting through her galaxy to inspire her! 🙂


  12. Inside the Mind of Isadora
    October 3, 2013

    Jamie Dedes is a wonderful weaver of words. I enjoy her so much.


  13. Imen Benyoub
    October 3, 2013

    what can I say about this..so finely written..so exquisitely expressed..i came to read again and say bravo for the poetic journey you took me in..and for the discovery of this poet..and of course to thank you our dear Niamh for her impeccable choices..!!..bravo Jamie..


  14. thiskidreviewsbooks
    October 4, 2013

    I like both poems! They’re great! 😀


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