Poetry

Have you ever held the shell of something in your hand for a long time and loved it and never known it until, one day, you learn the name of it, like Moon Snail?

moon snail shell

Here it is. And here it will be, too:

I am thinking about the hand I found in Indiana, a mole’s hand, when I was somewhere near ten years old, back-walking from a bulldozed pond along a foot and cow path in an Indiana field my father owned. His weekend escape from medicine and the hospital rounds he’d leave us for in the Sunday afternoons of our returning. It was 1968, fifty-four years ago from where I sit now in my quiet Colorado study, a blue spruce at the window where chickadees fly, and where it brushes the eves in our February wind, and where I hold the shell of a moon snail I found in a sea drift a summer ago in Cape Cod with my love, as if it were time, salt-riped and smoothed, I cup in my hands.

from The Journal of the Unnaturalist

Poetry, whatever form, rocks.

Like these birds, my book, Flying Beneath the Dog Star, has arrived!

You can find it on Amazon now, or Finishing Line Press. I’ll do a few events around it, beginning Tuesday at 6 p.m., February 15, at the Gallery R and Wine Bar in Boulder with Poet Jeffrey Franklin. Thanks, Colorado Poets Center!

Other upcoming events posted here.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me and this book!

Flying Beneath the Dog Star: Poems from a Pandemic cover

Not Too Perilous Publishing Conundrum in the Time of A Pandemic, especially in Colorado

book cover
cover of book to soon be

January 22nd has come and gone and Flying Beneath the Dog Star: Poems from a Pandemic has been delayed by Covid and shipping slowdowns. Sad, but so trifling in comparison to lives continuing to be lost to this pandemic and to the fire devastation that Colorado experienced just weeks ago.

I’ve been promised that  Flying Beneath the Dog Star  will appear on the horizon in the next couple of weeks. I apologize for the delay to those of you who made early purchases. Once FBDS is officially published and shipped , it will also be available through, besides Finishing Line Press, amazon, good reads, barnes & noble etc etc. 

I begin a series of local readings and workshops starting in early February. Most of these will be available to anyone by Zoom. I invite you to all. You can find announcements, zoom links (and more specific details as each event approaches) at https://kathrynwinograd.com/events/

If you’re interested, you can also find my most recently published poetry, articles and interviews at:

Split Rock Review: On Cow Ponds and Glass Frogs: Using the Poetry Prompt  

                        and   Octopus on a Sea Dock 

Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment:  Crows, At the Naturalist’s Workshop, Hawks 101

 Independent PublisherFor the Love of the Writer: Creating the Humble Essayist Press

The Colorado Sun: SunLit Interview: In “Slow Arrow,” Kathryn Winograd wove threads of her mother’s voice  

And Sunlit Excerpt: “Skyglow” from Slow Arrow: Unearthing the Frail Children In “Skyglow,” a look to the heavens for beauty and meaning

 Colorado Poets Center The Colorado Poet Issue #30, Winter 2022: my interview with Abigail Chabitnoy on Poetry and  How To Dress A Fish

   Green Briar Reviewmy first cover photo for a literary journal: Heron in Winter

   Essays upcoming this spring in River Teeth: Journal of Nonfiction Narrative and   Terrain.org.

On The Poetry Prompt: Cow Ponds and Glass Frogs

Given that my entire upcoming chapbook from Finishing Line Press, Flying Beneath the Dog Star: Poems from a Pandemic, came from using the NaPoWriMo poetry prompts during National Poetry Month, I do have a few things to share about using the poetry prompt. And Split Rock Review has just published a new poem, Octopus on a Sea Dock, that uses a whole mix of made-up poetry prompts like “use something from the day’s National Geographic” post, among others. . .

It’s a useful tool, so I took Split Rock Review up on its offer to publish On Cow Ponds and Glass Frogs: Using the Poetry Prompt. You can read it at Split Rock! And, yes, I had fun with it!

Split Rock Review

A Little Bird Photography News in a Poetry Blog

Three years ago, my daughter and son-in-law gave me a special Christmas gift: a new camera. Since that day, I’ve been haunting rivers, woods, and fields for birds in a new journey, one beautiful way to look up and see the world new. Now, thanks to Green Briar Review, I can share my first cover photo of a Heron in Winter.

SunLit Interview: In “Slow Arrow,” Kathryn Winograd wove threads of her mother’s voice

I’ve been waiting for this. Right at the moment when we all went into lockdown at the start of the pandemic and my mother would begin a series of emergency room visits that led finally in just a few months to the hospice, my book, slow arrow: unearthing the frail children, came out. My mother never got to read it. It was one of the saddest times in my life. The book went on to win a bronze medal in essay for the independent publishers book award, a prize that put me next to lia purpura, who won the gold medal and is one of my favorite essayists. I was thankful to do this interview, which brought me back to my mother and those trips we made across teller county. I can still hear my mother, Ohio native of beautiful red and orange trees, complaining in fall: “What, another yellow leaf?” This is an interview about the journey of one book and the love for a mother.

Slow Arrow BookCover

You can read an excerpt of Sky Glow here.

Autumn Migrations: A Poem

Monarch Butterfly on Rabbitbrush KW

I found this butterfly along Redtail Lake in the Rabbitbrush. It reminded me of a poem I wrote a long while ago on my own small family’s migration. Believe it or not, it won the 2011 Writers Digest Non-rhyming poetry competition, my thousand dollar poem … a poem I treasure, regardless.

Migrations

to Mira

At Monterey Aquarium, we watched mackerel
school where light refracted the world over our heads—
sky, people, that brooding mimetic moon—bent

impossibly over the silver minions, their shifting
music we couldn’t hear, their long silent rhythm, form
shifting into formlessness, the way you do now,

your face flushed with the boy’s mouth until I can barely
touch you as I once did, my loneliness no longer allowed
to break like water against the frail vessel of you.

There is no justification in this, as in the way starlings leave
the long darkness of our fall, buoyed in the lifting
wings of each other beneath the stars’ compass,

our yellow cottonwood speaking the language of wind
between us and this leaving until their shadow that finally
is the fall breaks over us. So long now, since I touched

the braille of your skin, the late moon keening her vowels
through that early window.  Human frailty, I think, loving
that naming of you without the tongue, your body —

            shadow  light  shadow

already breaking across my hands into nothing that stays.

On Writing Grief and the Braided Essay

to HJ Burt, 1929-2020, photograph by KW

All this year, I’ve been thinking about how to write about grief. Kafka said, “Everything you love, you will eventually lose.”  So it seems exactly right that just moments ago the grief counselor called from the hospice where my mother died.  Checking in on me. Their last call–Sunday the first year anniversary of my mother’s death.

My mother prepared me for her death for many years—it was the thing she wanted.  But I did not realize how grief entwines with regret entwines with guilt each time we are at the cusp of sleep, faithless and alone.  The writer Bruce Ballenger says about writing grief, “ Add a sentence that says ‘I was devastated.’ Most of the time this falls flat because it states the obvious. . . perhaps writers should trust that a situation that calls for sentiment can express it most strongly by withholding feeling.” 

All I could think of was the “devastated.”

I thought to go back to my writing, what has always sustained me, but I didn’t know what to say, how to say it.  Steve Harvey, creator of The Humble Essayist, says that as writers  “what happened may matter to us but it is lost on us if we do not transform it into art.”  Yet how do we shape raw grief into art, into something outside the grieving body, an artifact to be softened, hardened, handled, polished?  

The summer my mother died, my daughters and son-in-law went hiking in the San Juan mountains to an alpine lake with the young son of one of my oldest friends.  My son-in-law loves nothing more than to talk dares, though at thirty, he is long past the expectation that anyone would take him up on one. But, of course, the just-twenty-something in response to a ridiculous dare tore off his clothes, climbed a boulder, and then cannonballed into the air before disappearing into the still freezing waters of an alpine lake no one could even see.

 “Did you at least check to see how deep the water was?” my friend later asked her son.

I had always thought of the braided essay  as the way to “luck” into the deep image, into deep meaning, that poet’s way of totally giving in to the powerful prayer of language.   It’s a cannonball, I thought, a leap into the unchartered, a faith that we will sink into the unknown and then pop out again, blue sky and air in mouthfuls. 

Brenda Miller, best known for her braided essays,  says that at some point-some crucial point-we need to shift our allegiance from experience itself, to the artifact we’re making of that experience on the page. To do so, we mustn’t find courage; we must, instead, become keenly interested in metaphor, image, syntax, and structure: all the stuff that comprises form.”

I had never fully believed that the braided essay gives the writer courage to write what they think they cannot write. Or that it is the way to move out of the freewriting of grief into something of beauty, grace, purpose.  That is until I found this one sentence in my journal and so begins my own cannonball:  

My mother came from a family of floaters. “Your grandmother could float in a pond on her back for hours and sleep,” my mother would tell me the childhood summers I floated  with her in the green pond behind the Ohio farm house . . . A year now and I am looking for metaphor everywhere.

                                                            From Floating

On Photographing Heron: A Poem

First, there is the necessary quiet of close grass, of fallen rodent, belly up in the path of your wanting. This morning, all you loved disappeared, ghosts you’ve kept in your palms, the tip of your tongue. Now you stoop to the wide paths reckless others have shoe-ed into the mud. Above the flooded salt quarry, a woman hugs her knees. She will not waver in the hour you walk the wide lake, peering one-eyed for heron through your lens. Then, nothing, until you are back at the beginning, the water of a blue reservoir you had long forgotten spilling out of a pipe at your feet, water so quiet, you think, this is why the birds rush in. A heron hugs the lakeshore; a heron balances on the gray curves of a tree fallen so many years ago that it floats upon the water’s light. Long-necked, short-necked, the heron wait for the sun. Their feathers are the light hairs of moss the wind tassels. Why do you wait at the edge of the water, the camera heavy in your cold hands, waiting for cloud, for sun, for the stretch of wing, the long dangling feet of departure? A quick moment and the heron sheds a bit of itself, just one color the camera opens its eye for, then shuts: a blue shade gripping the half-cave of a tree that keeps trying to bury itself. Soon you will drive home. Soon you will cook, sit by a fire, prop your camera at the table’s edge to see what you have taken.