February 2, 2007
Silent Poetry Reading
Today marks the Second Annual Brigid in Cyberspace Silent poetry reading. (Good name) Last year I shared some of the work of my favourite poet. (I have a few others, like Edna St. Vincent Millay, Isabella Valancy Crawford, Daisy Zamora or other women with long or unusual names.) This poet however, continues to capture my imagination, mostly because I find him a person who is frequently a surprise.
This poet, Joseph Dunphy, is my father-in-law.
If there were a contest that I held in the world, a contest to pick sensible men, my father-in-law would be a fine contender. He makes good decisions. He manages money well. He is responsible. He is the sort of man who knows how to fix a leak quickly and will not swear while he does it. He will also not sweat. I have never heard him raise his voice. He wears clean clothes. He exercises regularly, wouldn't wear an un-ironed shirt, listens to the radio, and does not waste time. He is respected by his co-workers and excels at his job. He is a dearly loved father and husband. If you look up the word "steadfast" in the dictionary, Joe Sr. is there.
I understand now that I am making him sound boring, and for that I'm very sorry, because Joe Sr (like the Joe Jr I married) is one of the least boring men that has ever lived. He is not at all what he seems. In exchange for putting in the time to get to know him, you can find out some pretty remarkable things. Like he found a way to finagle himself the purchase of some hand knit socks I did not make. Like he would only eat leftovers if you let him. I think he would eat pickled anything. A huge passion lies in him for St. John's harbour. He's a little weird about the fridge and though he has little to say in person, he's pretty verbose on the phone. One time early in our relationship he called me cross-Canada about some video on MTV he was watching, made me change the channel and watch it with him and then wanted to discuss the fact that some of the people in the video were naked and dancing. It was like being transported to some alternate universe, considering that up until then most of our conversations had been me babbling like an idiot and him saying "Alright then."
Inexplicable. The biggest discovery was finding out that he was writing poetry. Good poetry. Tons of it. Working at it, researching it....passionate, loving, enormously gripping thoughtful poetry. I think the whole family was speechless. It was like having your favourite rock, a good sturdy rock, suddenly split open and reveal a universe of sparkling gems. Who knew?
Well, one person maybe. (Though I think she was pretty stunned herself.) Carol, his wife. Carol and I share something in common, something that the rest of the family will wonder at, I think. We are both married (she to the father, me to the son) to deeply, deeply odd men, men as odd as fish, who are not at all what they seem. At all.
Joe (both Sr and Jr) tromp around the world doing their business in their own strange ways, looking for all the world like one kind of man, while revealing only in the intimacy of their closest, most secret relationships...these otherworldly surprises. Men who seem brusque are tender, men who occasionally appear too private are found to be close personal friends with a hamster, and men who do little or no public revealing are found to be writing very good poetry. In honour of that, the stunning element of surprise in some people, Joe Dunphy (the senior) is this year's poet. Again.
The house gets a fresh coat
Of paint every fall, even though
I am old. It helps me to recall
Amid the waning light
Mother at the stove, steam rising
From soups and stews, and water boiling
The brook running, gurgling,
The water hoop, the metal tub
In the kitchen, her hands in my hair.
Father reaming the stem
Of his pipe with a stiff bristle,
Flat cut strips of tobacco nestled
Lightly in a blue tin,
His hand cupped loosely round the bowl
The matchbox tamping, the silver spoon.
How, after rosary, when
The pipe was lit and mother slipped
Stitches on smooth needles, they would talk
Of black backs glistening in
Ice-green waters, fine mists falling,
Ripe fruits lying low in the fen, sweet
In dappled days now gone
For them and me. So, I paint it
Yellow, it reminds me of sunshine!
Posted by Stephanie at February 2, 2007 12:39 PM
Beautiful. My house is Yellow, too, and I will thinkm of it often.
Stunning poem. What a gift he has (and is). Thank you!
Beautiful. My house is Yellow, too, and I will think of it often.
Beats there a heart...Never underestimate the depth and quality of anyone you have not taken the time to begin to know well.
I'm sitting here very quiet inside and reminded of my grandparents in their little pink house with straw on the roof and the lake sparkling just a few meters from their front garden. Thank you for sharing Joe Senior's poem with us. It is very beautiful and says so much about a life that now is past.
What a wonderful analogy you had to the gems inside an otherwise unremarkable rock. And what a moving, lovely poem.
I think I'll go dig up one of my ancestors' poems and post it for the day. Thank you.
Thanks for sharing his poetry again. You are lucky to have the two Joe's in your life!!!
That poem is beautiful in such a comforting and sincere way. Thank you very much for sharing it.
Aw, that poem makes me happy!
Besides knitting, books are one of my great passions (art and poetry and knitting). And so for the second day in a row I beg in the pleading tones of Oliver...Book? Please?
I love that poem. It is delightful. Thank you for sharing it!
Beautiful--both the poem and your comments. We both seem to belong to that fortunate group of folks who fell in love with a man and gained unexpected treasure in our in-laws.
I love the images his words stir to life
That is awesome. He has a way of calling up visual images in your mind with his words.
Thank you for sharing. That's just lovely.
oh my... thank you very much for caring and for sharing Joe Sr's writing. I went far far away when I read that. I'd sure like to read more of what he has written; is he published, an anthology somewhere or posted somewhere? I'm glad all of you found each other too.
Stephanie, this post kind of had me on the verge of tears. Odd? Hmmm...I think these are AUTHENTIC men who are not afraid to explore their passions, secret or not. But they are also GOOD men. And those are harder to find all the time. How fortunate you are to have them both in your life. I absolutely adore the poem. It is evocative, it is beautiful, it makes me sorrowful for a world that often feels it is slipping away because we are so focused on how FAST we can do things in Western society that we forget to look around and FEEL the moment we are in. Thank you so much for sharing such wonderful thoughts and Joe Sr's gift.
(Does he have an interest in being published? I would love to see a collection of his writing.)
The poem is delightful. Your father-in-law is a talented poet. Thank you!
Your Joes sound like wonderful men. I enjoyed the poem immensely, it is lovely. It is also somewhat irrelevant, but I live in a little yellow house myself, I think houses like being yellow:)
Beautiful. I only wish I could create such beautiful words. Maybe I'll go knit something yellow. Something like sunshine, warm and comforting. Something to take a nap in.
What a wonderful blessing to have such men in your life.
That was wonderful. Reminds me of my grandparents and times in my childhood when I visited them in Rose Blanche, NL. When he publishes a volume - let us know so I can rush out an buy a copy (or seven).
Your words are so true, it reminds me of the men in my life, husband, father, grandfather passed.
The poem is very touching. You are a lucky women. I wish my father-in-law liked me enough to call me, or liked me.
Lovely! Thank you for sharing a bit of your Joes with us.
Nothing you said about Joe Sr. made him sound boring to me. Steadfast is a pretty important quality, and it's not surprising (well okay, it is, but it shouldn't be) that one so steadfast would be confident enough to explore all aspects of himself.
The poem is exquisite. I can see the yellow house, the steam rising from pots on the stove, and hear the quiet, the needles clicking, the voices murmuring. Thank you for sharing it!
Beautiful. I had tears in my eyes from the first sentence "...even though/I am old"--it stunned me, it's so true. Thank you to the both of you, for sharing that with us.
You weren't kidding when you said he was good. That's a marvelous poem!
Thanks to Joe for the writing and you for the posting.
Beautiful words - yours and Joe Sr.'s. You and your girls are so blessed to have these wonderful, talented men in your lives and to have them be role models for how REAL men live and feel. Thank you for sharing these inner tender moments with the world.
Hey, your dad-in-law's really good!
How lovely the images are that the poem conjurs.
Thank you for sharing Joe Sr.'s poem with us.
Trust Rams! I had to go look up what a geode was. Glad you're back in circulation, Rams. Loved, loved, Joe Sr's poem. Reminds me of the Eastern Townships (PQ) where I grew up. Hey, any update on the Blue Moon gals? How were they holding up when you saw them out West?
Such a lovely poem. I'm all weepy now...
Did you know that Edna St. Vincent Millay had a hard time saying her name without adding "boom! boom!" at the end of it?
Try it...it sounds right.
Thanks for that quiet moment. The world sometimes spins too fast. You've helped slow it down today. It was just what I needed.
Truly beautiful, and now I am remembering my grandparents and the special lives they led.
This poem is really wonderful. Just strikingly good poetry. And beyond that, who wouldn't love poetry that includes knitting?
I have known a couple of these quiet men in my life and they are a very special breed. And always a blessing.
where do we get more?
thanks for sharing this. :)
What a great poem; full of such imagery! I'm not a poet myself, but I long to be. I'm more of a prose person, but I do enjoy some poetry.
I too am married to a man like that> I have always thought of him as a magic fruit tree. Barbara Kingslover wrote in one of her novels about trees in a desert and that most will just survive and yet sometimes there would be one. One that would bloom most. Grow the most. people would worship that tree because it was magic. That is how I think of my odd man he is a magic tree and I see the magic everyday.
Lovely and so moving. Gave me goosebumps; always a sign of a good poem. I wonder, does he have enough for a book?
Well... speaking of surprises, I was surprised to find myself moved to tears.
I really loved that poem--thank you for sharing.
He wasn't born in the US, by any chance? He would make a fine president (she said wistfully).
Lovely poem. Dappled days, come back soon.
That's beautiful. Makes my heart catch in my throat.
Thank you, thank you, and thank Joe Sr, for that poem. We all need a poem-a-day habit, and this one is worth several days. I do hope he's publishing somewhere - maybe in one of Canada's "little magazines"?
I'm speechless at the images the words of the poem evoked. Very beautiful.
Beautiful. His words, and yours.
Thank you for the beautiful poem.
I think it is Newfoundland that makes these wonderful men!
thank you stephanie for sharing .. . i remember very clearly last year's poem and tribute, and i was so impressed by joe, sr., and by your respect for him. it's a very very good thing when a woman and her father-in-law get on well.
Good poetry always makes me shiver. That's how I know it's good. Thank you Joseph Dunphy, Sr.
I love the poem, truly beautiful. Your are so lucky to have two such wonderful men in your life.
You are so right. I love the imagery of the ice-green water. Thank you for sharing this.
beautiful. i, too, live in a yellow house. i don't wear yellow, but love it. also have yellow walls and yellow dogs. ;) thank you.
fantastic as always his poetry is very picturesque. in such few words he conjured many images.
Such a beautiful poem and your tribute to this talented poet was lovely.
Beautiful and finely honed.
I am a quiet lurker who has never posted a comment - although, an avid knitter (20+ years of knitting...) I read plenty of knitting blogs. I am at work right now, eyes misted-over, and a little embarassed that someone might see me tearing-up over your father-in-laws poem. It made me think of lots of good things. Just thought you'd like to know.
Holy cow...anything that makes me "see" the words in my head is amazing. This is beautiful.
I love finding secret poets. Thanks, Joe Sr....wonder whose poetry he reads?
Nice. Or, in the words of MY FIL, when describing something he loves with great passion, "Real nice."
...men who love deeply and well, it would seem.
I'm not terribly fond of poetry, but this one brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing not only the poem, but the man behind it.
i'm married to an odd poet who has a great affection to st. john's harbour....
there is a huge writting community here, does mr. dunphy publish or give readings, i'd like to hear/read more...?
You are a lucky woman to have such men in your life. Joe Sr. is not the only worksmith in the family - you have a way with a phrase yourself.
I very much enjoyed that. The imagery was beautiful, but the movement-the undulation from little action to little action-reminded me of the sea. Beautiful.
Yellow has been favorite color my whole life long. But I've never before seen anyone who could explain why.
What an absolutely beautiful poem. Your father-in-law is indeed a truly remarkable man.
So how come we only get one poem a year? All it does it make us want to see the rest!
Perhaps he should have his own poetry blog...I found myself wistfully thinking about my own parents and grandparents (and missing the latter immensely). What a gift you have in each other.
(About the video and the people nekkid and dancing...was it "Stand" by REM? Sorry, I've got to know.)
Lovely, thoughtful poem. We have truly wonderful, truly odd men on my husband's side of the family, too. I only wish that the total package came with the desire to fix leaks, grow and mow grass and bbq. Poetry would totally be bonus.
Just lovely. It reminds me of when I lived in a very old house in the Battery, at the mouth of St. John's harbor, and there was an elderly couple in the house (I believe it was yellow, come to think of it) above me who watched my comings and goings intently and fed me soup.
Thank you for sharing that with us. What beautiful imagery! You are surrounded by remarkable people.
I love it. He has a gift. :)
a wonderful love letter to your husband, and an amazing tribute to his Daddio............
I'm another who has rarely been a fan of poetry, but Joe Sr.'s is really, really quite nice. His words become pictures inside my head.
Stephanie, I hope you can convince Joe, Sr. to publish a collection of his poems. That was lovely, and I'd love to read more.
Thank you for sharing.
That really is beautiful and thoughtful. How lovely to discover a hidden poet inside an already treasured person. :)
Both your post and Joe Sr.'s poem brought tears to my eyes, which is a problem while at work! I live in a house someone else chose to paint yellow, and I've always said I don't like it. But now, I think it will remind me of this wonderful poem.
I LOVE POETRY!!!
What else is there to say really?
Very beautiful! Can you hook him up with your publisher?
Lovely. And what a remarkable man. He actually doesn't swear when he fixes a leak???
I needed to read some lovely words today, thank you for sharing that!
"slipped stitches on smooth needles..."
knitting runs in Joe's family too!
Odd as compared to what, or whom? They sound pretty darned great to me.
The poem is... ahh.
I've been looking forward to this post. Just as last year - again, I'm on the verge of tears from the beauty and greatness of it. How blessed you are to have great men in your life and as mentors and guides and inspiration to you and your children.
What amazing evocative words.
So lovely lovely lovely and true. Thank you.
I imagine this is a silly question, but have you read Alistair MacLeod's books? I find the same spirit in, especially, Island, as I do in Joe Sr.'s poem.
That was lovely. The imagry makes me remember something I am far to young to recall. His nostalgia is tangiable. I hope to hear more of his poetry in the future. :)
Really wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing!
I am married to someone who, while his qualities are somewhat different than the Joes', lives with the same effect: sometimes just what he seems to be, more often something else entirely. Four years ago, the dozens of people who love him thought he'd never find a soulmate because "no one knows what to make of him." He surprises me every day, and I'm always grateful.
P.S. Yay for more posting!
Just. . . wow.
Thank you to you and your father-in-law for sharing that poem.
Oh, come on!! EVERY man swears when he fixes a leak!
He is a talented poet. Thanks again for sharing his work. And for reminding me about your Joe's hamster. :) Happy Friday!
with a knitting reference, no less.
Lovely. I remember his from last year too. That man has something remarkable!
What an amazing piece. It feels like...looking at a Norman Rockwell. Warm, and fuzzy, slightly wistful and altogether comfortable.
How wonderful to have TWO such men in your life. :)
And you not only know this talented man, you are married to his offspring! O lucky,lucky woman. I can only imagine the conversations that you have.I think I just might be jealous! How lovely to have family like this.
I am completely and absolutely smitten with your Joe Sr. and btw, nothing you wrote bespoke to me of a boring person, not a word.
Beautiful words. Thank you Joe Sr. and thank you, Stephanie.
Call my friend Marta--a poet and editor. A kind, gentle hand in preparing poetry manuscripts for publication, and good advice on publishing poetry:
She, too, is one of those people who are odd in the best possible way.
I don't mean this as a crass boost for her business, but as a suggestion for helping a novice build confidence in going public. Marta's a sweetheart.
I love poetry. Thank you for sharing a little of Joe. Sr. with us all. His family is truly blessed to have him. I am crying....I don't know why.
I love poetry
Lovely poetry. Made me want to paint my house yellow - to cheer it up.
But I can't quite get over Joe Senior's last name being Dunphy. I have always assumed that Joe Junior's last name was either Pearl or McPhee. And ditto for the children.
What IS Joe Junior's last name?
What are the childrens' last names?
But.. odd as fish? Is that a Canadian thing?
I am, for once, speechless. I miss my Dad.
there is a magic to words we often forget as we go about our lives using them so cavalierly, almost meaninglessly. yet it always amazes me how words that are accessable and available to all and any who speak the language can be moulded, bent and shaped into something of exquisite beauty once left in the right pair of hands.
thanks joe sr. from one yellow-house dweller to another.
I loud HURRAH!! for "boring" men everywhere ;-)
I don't consider myself a huge poetry fan, but I am absolutely enchanted by Joe's poem. I, too, would love to see more.
great poem! thank you so much for sharing it!
Joe Sr. is a man who sees. What a treasure he is! Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing him with us and for your beautiful tribute.
Thank you very much, Joe Sr., for this gift that has been shared with us.
Please, sir, I want some more.
My living room is yellow. The bib I'm knitting is yellow. It's a good color for this season. Happy Imbolc!
Joe Sr.sounds like a great guy...steadfast is good!
Those Newfoundlanders have a way with words. Thank you for sharing.
A great poet can make you feel what he feels. Joe Sr. definately qualifies as great! Thanks for sharing his poetry, and not just reprinting something we learned in school.
it is so wonderful that you have such men in your life! they are a rare breed. especially ones with such a gift for poetry.
i am so glad you shared it with us!
Stunning and moving. If there's a contest for describing that poem in 2-3 words, I just entered it.
What a wonderful post. I am also married to the silent, seemingly boring type and think every day that I am lucky to really know him.
Lovely imagery. You are blessed, indeed.
I was hoping yours this year would be his. I too have a yellow house.
Whoa. Where can I read MORE???
I love the idea of the silent poetry reading. I've posted one of my faves on my newborn knitting blog. Thanks for being such an inspiration!
(Signed: one of the nerdy museum girls you had supper with in Ottawa)
You know it's really good when it makes you weepy :-)
Here's one for you:
Midsummer night's stroll
The attenuated silvery evenings of northern summer,
they are at once languid and fierce, white Pesian
cats preparing to mate. They are pale lillies
whose fragance paints the air of a bedroom.
The light is milky, suave and must be entered.
Who can sit inside with the lights on?
This mauve sky wants to soak through your skin.
Your body will float like a cherry blossom fallen
on a slowly moving mirroring river.
This glow will not tan but lighten your flesh
till you find yourself borne up as pollen.
Words escape you like birds startled awake.
Your lover's face floats on this dusk, an alien
moon. You rise and vanish in the sky like a balloon.
I'm nearly speechless...your remarks, as well as the poetry are stunning! Lovely, beloved men.
Stephanie, that was a beautiful tribute to your father in law. How wonderful that you have eyes to see the man he truly is. Thanks for sharing with us not only the poem, but more importantly, the picture of the man who wrote it.
Thank you. Thank you both for sharing it.
I adore Vincent. I was first introduced a few months ago when they ran a profile of her on CBC radio... I think it was on Ideas. I ran out and got Savage Beauty immediately and immersed myself in her world, then rustled up every book of her poems I could find and read them to anyone who would pause long enough to listen.
Your FIL's poetry is tenderly crafted and lovely.
I love this poem! My favorite color is yellow!
Lovely - what a beautiful image.
My FIL is a taciturn Welshman, who didn't really speak to me for the first several years I was with my husband. Every now and then, though, he loves to shock me to the core with some deep conversation. We gotta love our guys! :0)
That was really lovely. What a treasure you have in your father-in-law!!
Geesh. I have two degrees in English, can find my own poetry. When I read a knitting blog, I want to read about knitting.
I'm not a fan of poetry, generally, but I like that one because it celebrates the ordinary. That reminds me: I have to get Ordinary Things (poems by Ralph Fletcher) for my class!
Both the post and the poem are beautiful, thank you for sharing them.
Two degrees in English and can neither spell "Sheesh" nor refrain from gratuitous incivility. Remarkable.
Please extend my thanks to Mr. Dunphy, Sr. He has made me remember my grandfather, also a pipe smoker. Hard to type with happy tears in your eyes.
[Re: finding poetry in a knitting blog. Knitting is a noun and a verb, as in knitting together a community. Thank you, Stephanie.]
One more reason to visit this blog frequently, I never know what I'll find here. Why aren't you Stephanie Pearl-Dunphy?
What a beautiful and moving poem. Thanks for sharing. I so wish I could meet this man!
So beautiful...both the poem and your wonderful tribute to your father-in-law. I am reminded of "The Millwright Story" about the founder of the Herman Miller company and the millwright/poet who worked for him.
thanks so much for participating in the poetry reading! Great site, great writing, great poem!!!!thanks!
Thank you so much for posting this - it's Beautiful. :)
Already posted but astounded by the two degrees in rudeness! If it feeds your soul it is poetry! And where would our souls be without knitting?
Deeply, deeply odd men?
I think you hit the nail on the head... you might have been describing the Boy as well... As well as the reason I love him so much.
thanks, i think i needed that.
Wow...I got chills...and now I want to paint my house yellow, too...even though it's a rental.
I have to go read it again :-).
That is a really wonderful poem. Thank you for the opportunity to read it. Might I suggest if Joe sr. isn't interested in publishing that Mr. Dunphy contribute a poem each month for your blog, so we can continue to enjoy his work.
He really has a gift.
In some ways, people are far more interesting than knitting, but that doesn't mean that I'll give up knitting to figure out people. And knitting can be surprising too!
But the poem's lovely. Lol. And look at Christina Rossetti, she's REALLY good.
And some women, who like to be seen as funny, are led to reveal their own hidden depths of feelings. No wonder you scared that woman off.
I did my term paper in Canadian Literature for my B.A. English on Isabella Valency Crawford's "Malcolm's Katie". I talked about the hidden flower imagery, and how it related to the Victorian Language of flowers. It was really neat, and I quite liked the poem! It's too bad she had to self-publish and nearly starve herself to get other people to read it because no one else wanted to publish it for her.
Beautiful. Full of beauty. Blessings, Men, knitting, Stephanie, poems, yellow. Thanks for sharing this.
Thank you for sharing you FIL's words. I wish I had known about this earlier but this time last year, I'd never even heard of blogging. I've shared a poem very close to my heart as well, a couple of days late but… thank you again.
What an incredible gift into your FIL's soul. His family couldn't receive a greater inheritance.
it would be nice if joe sr's poetry was published. i love poetry, read a lot (my all time favorite poet is Mary Oliver), and have a lot of things still to be read. Joe's is quite evocative.
Goosebumps, me too. And it made me cry. I'd buy the book! Thanks for sharing your dad-in-law. :)
I tried to download your poncho pattern (a very
harlot poncho) so many times but I could'nt.
I dont know why, Maybe because its url has been filtered here in I.R.Iran because of its name (harlot)! is it possible for u to mail me the PDF fileplease.
I agree with Rams, Joe Sr is a geode! I was not expecting my reaction to that poem - perhaps it was the way you describe your father-in-law as not seeming to be very open - but when I read that poem I felt the sadness of a happy memory.
Thank you for sharing, I would love to hear more.
May I echo the requests that you let us know if he publishes any of his poems. It was wonderful. It felt as if I were in the room with him.
I was introduced to Edna St. Vincent Millay many years ago in high school. I also read Sara Teasdale. Loved them both. And then, of course, there is e e cummings. Now I have to go home and read them again.
And your father-in-law does not sound boring. He sounds like a genuine person.
Thank you for this day's blog.
"Yellow" brought tears to my eyes. You are so very fortunate so have such a unique and beautiful man as your father in law.
So lovely, the poem. Reminds me of my dad, too. A sensitive and outdoors man, owned a Dunphy boat, too, and this was another blast from the past. Thank you so much for this, thanks to your father-in-law.
Your tribute to Joe Dunphy is lovely, and your portrait of him could win a prose contest. Thanks for sharing!
He should be published. He really is tremendously good. Thanks for that little gift for us to read. Really, it was a little gift on a way too cold day.
Good golly, that is beautiful. And believe me, I know my poetry :) A gift like that ought to be shared with the world. It's not fair that we have to settle for just one...wish you'd share some of the others.
Words fail me! A truly rare occurance. Thankyou.
How truly boring can people be, what an unusual occurrance. Words fail me as I am an illiterate fool who left school too young just to breed feral cattle dogs and knit scarves from their flea infested furry tails.
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