Thursday, June 19, 2014

Poetry Friday: A Few Explorer Poems

Iceberg off of Snow Hill Island
Iceberg off Snow Hill Island. Photo by Frank Krahmer/Corbis.

I've been working on a collection of explorer poems for some time now. This week I re-read Elizabeth Bradfield's marvelous collection, Approaching Ice. It's a beautiful book about explorers throughout history who have ventured toward polar ice. Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite for more.

from "Polar Explorer Ernest Shackleton (1922)"

     We all have unexplained rhythms
and echoes inside the still-mysterious landscape 
of our chests. The heart's slight variations of tick and tock.

That smooth ticking of reels, regular
     and anticipated, unlike
the unrhythms slap of halyards or
of the snap of a hull's planks and ribs
                                within a clench of ice.

from "Why They Went"

Frost bitten. Snow blind. Hungry. Craving
fresh pie and hot toddies, a whole roasted
unflippered thing to carve. Craving a bed
that had, an hour before entering,
been warmed with a stone from the hearth.

from "Bowditch as First Discovery, First Exloration"

I turned always to the star charts:
White scatter on a dark blue circle.
Transparent sheets to story

the scatter with lines. 

Check in with Jone at Check it Out for more Poetry Friday and enjoy.


  1. These icy ventures are so amazing. My grandfather was a sealer when he was a young, young "man" - boy of 9 really. Being left on an ice floe. Hopping from floe to floe was his daily life when he was young - not a happy time for him.

    1. I cannot even imagine being left on an ice floe, especially not at nine! There are so many tales of falling through thin ice and killer whales going deep and blasting up through the ice to grab a seal or a dog. Must have been pretty scary for a young, young man.

  2. Thanks for a peek into your reading life as you work on your own collection. Reading these explorer poems doesn't mess with your own?

    1. Mary Lee, I would probably not normally read poems on the same subject I'm writing on, but in this case I was trying to answer a question about an arc for the book overall. Bradfield's poems are for adults and her style is significantly different from mine, and my WIP is for children. So in this instance, reading her book did help me sort through my arc question. But yes, it could be disconcerting if I let it.

  3. I love that collection -- so nice to have company in that, and now I want to reread. The photo above made me think of the dimension pictures would add to your poems. I'm glad to read your note to Mary Lee, and see that this answered some questions about arc -- wonderful! There are ways to go beyond the this was discovered, with that being the end, tapping into personal goals. I am cheering you on!

  4. " I turned always to the star charts:
    White scatter on a dark blue circle." -- it sounds like nothing much, white scatter on a dark blue circle, like a description of words as black squiggles on white paper. But so much can be found in that white scatter -- everything, hidden in plain sight.

    Best of luck with your collection!

  5. A big fan of your project, and every time I hear or read something about explorers I think of you. Thanks for sharing these icy excerpts!