Thursday, August 21, 2014



Host Irene at Live Your Poem challenges us with a theme today - MISSING. Of course, I chose my contribution before knowing this, but certainly the work of both poet Philip Booth and artist Andrew Wyeth are missed! Does this count?

After spending a sparkling day on the Maine coast yesterday, I found "A Choice of Horizons" by Maine poet, Philip Booth in Maine Lines, edited by Richard Aldridge, Lippincott, 1970. 

My day was awash in Booth’s “naked ridgepoles, salt-bleached shakes, and “the sea, the sea, the sea,” a choice of horizons, indeed! The day ended with a visit to the Wyeth exhibits at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland. It’s a joy to read this poem after dwelling awhile with Andrew Wyeth’s paintings. I can “see” paintings like “Christina’s World” and others through Booth’s words and marvel at how he makes us look at that one boy out-pedaling the wind on his bike "to shelter  behind some town the man he must be."

Booth, a New Hampshire native, studied with Robert Frost at Dartmouth and spent his childhood on the coast of Maine. “A Choice of Horizons” was first published in 1964 just when “Christina’s World” brought the world’s attention to Andrew Wyeth.

This poem is MISSING online. Quoting a section wouldn’t capture its beauty. Here’s a jpg from my copy of Maine Lines.

"A Choice of Horizons" by Philip Booth   

Click on over to the Roundup at Live Your Poem to see if anything else is Missing or maybe FOUND!

Friday, August 8, 2014


Pashupatinath on the Bagmati River in Kathmandu - Bob Ray photo

A poem has bubbled up from my visit to Nepal last year at just this time. In Kathmandu, we visited Pashupatinath, the most scared Hindu temple, where we were only allowed outside. It was the first time we had witnessed cremation, which takes place around the clock on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. It was a somber experience and Bob tried to be sensitive with his photography.

My first poetic attempt was in free verse. Yesterday I tried it in a form completely new to me. At first I got the rhyme scheme wrong and had to go back and fiddle with the lines, so I think some parts seem forced. And I think it came out in tetrameter, not pentameter, but maybe that’s okay. 

So I’m sharing my draft of my first Terza Rima which I read about in J. Patrick Lewis’s Poetry Calisthenics, posted on Poetry at Play, and further researched on Feel free to comment, help me out, make suggestions. I’d love your feedback.

Thanks to Mary Lee who is hosting the Roundup today at A Year of Reading.

Cremation pyre - Bob Ray photo
Pashupatinath Temple

On the shore above Bagmati
Shrouded bodies rest on stone pyres.
Monkeys chatter a litany.

Kindling smokes into flame and fire,
crackling like a snappy chorus
decked out in marigold attire.

I have known cremation minus
incense or wood smoke in the wind.
My dear ones’ ashes knew no fuss.

They have joined the soil or commend
themselves to dance with ship’s bows. 
We’ll meet and mingle in the end,

because now your temple allows
no beef eaters, although my God
was first warmed by the breath of cows.

       ~ Joyce Ray - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Horton Center, New Hampshire
I’m glad to be back after a long absence which included two months volunteering in Japan, writing a new picture book manuscript, and the launch of my YA historical novel. I haven't written much poetry, and I’ve missed the richness of this community! This week's Roundup is at Reflections on the Teche. Thanks, Margaret!

Last year I shared a Build-a-Poem poetry workshop for middle-graders. I’ve just used the same basic building idea with a group of terrific young teens at a New Hampshire camp in the White Mountains. They gave me permission to post some photos.

The week’s theme was “Get Real-Finding Your True Self.” Each day they studied what that might mean as a Christian. So with a few paint chips, a handful of words from a word pool, and my own example, they wrote poems with new names for this self they were discovering.

Scaffolding consisted of “My real name is..., My name used to be…, In my dream my name was…, and Tomorrow my name will be… .” This Re-naming poem is not my original idea, and I am sorry to say I can’t remember the source! If anyone is familiar with this exercise, please help me out.

It was a fun exercise, and not too academic for a summer activity. Two Deans and other camp staff  jumped right in and wrote poems, too! In one hour we had built a poetry wall.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Feathers & Trumpets, A Story of Hildegard of Bingen

 March 16th Launch

What an exciting week it is! My publisher is hosting a launch party for my book this weekend, and I'm preparing a talk. Looking back over my 13-year journey with this story has been an amazing exercise. Most writers do not write in a vacuum. In re-living each stage of my manuscript, I've come to appreciate more deeply the mentors and colleagues who have guided me to each milestone. I've paid homage to Agnes, the character who walked onto the page and changed my writing.

Appearances and opportunities are starting to line up, and I hope young readers will soon meet the young medieval girl who developed into the 12th century's strongest female voice. Though I will never achieve Hildegard's fame, I am thinking how far I have come and am enjoying my little spotlight. Thank you, Vermont College of Fine Arts for preparing me for this journey!

I hope that Saint Hildegard is smiling.

Feathers & Trumpets, A Story of Hildegard of Bingen, YA historical novel
Apprentice Shop Books, March 16, 2014