Category Archives: Poetry

About verse, and the writing thereof….

Via Purgativa [sonnet]

This one’s been on my mind, both on account of the way the world seems to be, right now, and on account of some fiction I worked on today for the first time in years.

From The Clay Pot:

The car ran out of gas; I had to walk.
The grass turned brown and then gave way to clay.
The dirt was red, and on a rainy day
Had sucked up shoe-marks now turned into rock.
I followed this relief, until a block
Of solid concrete showed me where there lay
The slab from some old store that seemed to say,
With eloquence that taught me stones could talk:
You seek a pathway forward, yet you drive
Encumbered by your need to fill your tank,
Insuring your survival, nine to five,
By heart-attacking suit for shares and rank.
Where did these shoe-marks lead? Can you forego
The weary world a few miles, still, and know?

PGE 11-30-2014

vfiles29831

“Christmas, Night”–a sonnet

“Christmas, Night”

It was not hopeless, then; great Caesar reigned,
Deputed Herod, turncoat from the Jews,
Who built another Temple, made the news
In common Greek, while Latin forces trained.
This child of Esau, called the Great, unchained
Sanhedrin lawyers, winners born to lose,
The enemies of Maccabees, who choose
Tyros, not tears, with Tyrian gold retained.
It is not hopeless, now, though bookshelves fall,
And all about me scatter envelopes
Which, torn, revealing bills, put paid to hopes
I banked in ignorance; but I have read
That wheat, that grows in winter, seeming dead,
Gives birth, when crushed, and flowers into bread.

PGE  12-24-2016

freso_-_rachel_is_weeping_for_her_children

Inkandescence by Peter G. Epps–a brief rundown

I’ve added a lot of small projects and ways to find my work–ways I hope my work can be useful to you and perhaps help me to continue working and to support a family–especially in the past year.  Here’s some information about my publications and projects in a single post (much of which can be found elsewhere on inkanblot.com):

Poetry Collections

The Clay Pot is the fourth small collection of poems I’ve put together. The first, Depth Perception, used a sonnet cycle I had just written as the organizing principle for a number of pieces ranging from juvenilia on up. One major reason for assembling that collection was to fix in place most of those works, so I could stop tinkering and reshuffling and move on to fresh compositions.

The next two, Unanswered Rhymes and Going Home Words, were assembled and published nearly together, but the bulk of Unanswered Rhymes is the fragment of narrative verse I call “the poetic Roland.” Both of these collections include poems from my graduate school years and my travels in Europe and Japan; as the title suggests, Going Home Words especially comprised these poems with a number of pieces that reflect on my re-adjustment after three years in Japan, my completion of the doctorate, and my first couple of years in the professorate. Most importantly, Going Home Words brackets my marriage and conversion to the Catholic faith, the significant moves and career changes that entailed, and the spiritual journey that drove me home in all these senses.

Each of these collections, then, in different ways, represented an end of one process of living and learning, and of development as a poet, while marking a new sense of what my “mature” poetic style should be. It is my hope that The Clay Pot is the best collection yet.

I have enjoyed using lulu.com services to publish these works. I also represent my work on Amazon, at goodreads, on my FB Author Page.

Inkandescence Products

One of the strongest reasons that “incandescence” merged with “inkan” to become my trademark is the power of luminous moments like sunrise, like encountering an ancient river in the middle of a busy city, like walking in the hills among fall foliage. My first art designs, and still my signature pieces, are scenes from my 2002 visit to Prague that capture all three. Over the past several years, I’ve carefully rolled out a selection of designs for postcards and mugs at zazzle.com. I have many more in the queue behind them.

I’ve organized my designs into three main categories:

  • Inkandescence Abroad
    features postcards from my travels, with related paper products.
  • Insert Coffee Here is a
    line of mugs with various photographic, poetic, and travel themes.
  • finally, Mystic Haiku Mugs are a fun use of the “morphing mug” concept,
    revealing an image of coffee and a haiku when the cup is full of hot liquid.

A few more bona fides

You can go to inkanblot.com/contact or just click on the card below to download a vcard: pgecard

W. H. Auden on the relationship between being a poet and teaching

No, I never have. If I had to “teach poetry,” which, thank God, I don’t, I would concentrate on prosody, rhetoric, philology, and learning poems by heart. I may be quite wrong, but I don’t see what can be learned except purely technical things—what a sonnet is, something about prosody. If you did have a poetic academy, the subjects should be quite different—natural history, history, theology, all kinds of other things. When I’ve been at colleges, I’ve always insisted on giving ordinary academic courses—on the eighteenth century, or Romanticism. True, it’s wonderful what the colleges have done as patrons of the artists. But the artists should agree not to have anything to do with contemporary literature. If they take academic positions, they should do academic work, and the further they get away from the kind of thing that directly affects what they’re writing, the better. They should teach the eighteenth century or something that won’t interfere with their work and yet earn them a living. To teach creative writing—I think that’s dangerous. The only possibility I can conceive of is an apprentice system like those they had in the Renaissance—where a poet who was very busy got students to finish his poems for him. Then you’d really be teaching, and you’d be responsible, of course, since the results would go out under the poet’s name.

(source: Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 17, W. H. Auden)

Straw (a fresh draft)

Very much a draft, but I like a lot about it:

Straw

We may, at times, confuse ourselves
with Providence–because
we find ineffable inscrutable as well,
we may confuse
the concepts we deploy for what remains
beyond our grasp, when all has been

Considered, factored in, made subject to our hands’
manipulation–we may think
of Providence as guaranteed returns, as bad
investments surely to be good,
when something makes them so, and not our selves.

We may, in fact, become confused inside,
and think we have become ourselves like God,
inscrutable in our designs, all right
compelling others to be tools, our hands,
in monumental labor without end
assigned, proportioned to the fruit, nor aimed with reason:
bricks without straw.

We may
sink
down
by slow degrees
into irrelevance, our trying feet
caught tangled in the trace we always knew
would prove inscrutable.

Or we may know
How grasses grow around us, may content
Ourselves in sewing patches on the tent
Where simple dishes, homely ways observed,
Transform in sudden splendor at one Word.

PGE 8-16-2006

Digital Traces

Well, there you have it:  the Web documentation of one of my little achievements is still available.  :-)

Until very recently, that was the only time I could say I’d actually made money as a poet.  But thanks to a few sales via lulu.comThe Clay Pot has already paid back my very small production costs.  It’s not going to make me rich, but I’m grateful.

The Kickstarter is still running.  Please help it get funded in the next 18 hours or so!

Last Day on the Kickstarter Campaign to Promote The Clay Pot and Offer Signed Copies

I hope all of you know how encouraging you are to me, and how grateful I am to you–and for you.

Here’s the latest update.

For a long time, now, my “scriptorium” standing desk has been under the watchful eyes of an image of Christ the Teacher.  Not because I imagine that my work is properly “sacred,” but because I think everything true, good, and beautiful comes from and return to that one God who makes Himself and all things intelligible to us in Christ Jesus.  I hope that something in my work goes beyond my little life’s experiences, is caught up in the transformation of all things.

So when I ask for help with my art, I’m very sincere when I say that your encouragement to me and my gratitude to you are the main things I can see exchanged–and I am very happy when we can share in each other’s work so concretely, can make something really and visibly good happen in this world.

I think we can still see this thing work out, because as Kickstarter starts rotating this up in the “almost finished” results, some new folks will see it for the first time. Please keep sharing, and back if you can, because we are now well and truly in the last day of this project.

Here’s me, reading from The Clay Pot, one more time, for now:

A Fresh Draft: “Kernel”

This was an effusion, first posted on Facebook, but I’m going to keep it in the file for my next collection (already underway, with working title Wrapped Attention from the introductory piece).

Kernel

Except you become as a grain of wheat and fall
into the ground, you cannot see
(the kingdom of God)—I say to you,
As a little child, I heard about “the corn of wheat”
That had to die, and wondered
Not that it had to die, but how it could be “corn”
And “wheat”
at once. The dying was quite easily explained,
Kernels of corn falling from the sower into soil,
Their husks all decomposing, as the germinated seed
Consumed its built-in nutrients, burst forth
In greeny-shooted splendor. In Illinois,
This parable involved corn; the footnote was
“of wheat.” And how become
The little child
To whom the language-pattern I invoked above
More properly belongs? You must imagine
Carefully
The life of corn, or wheat, or any useful grass,
Or lilies of the field, as they belong
To sun and wind and soil and rain
And cultivating farmers, and to those
For whom the Earth is given fecund force,
Forgetting none; and then you must not, ever,
Disentangle gift from giver, seed from sower,
Corn from cob in children’s shucking hands,
But contemplate true essence, in relation,
Doctrine in integrity,
And never simplify.
When this seems overwhelming, and you beg
For comforting embraces, understanding
Turned to nothing, one who knows
Unfolds Himself to you.

PGE 8-4-2016

Poetry hath comforts

For he does think, although I’m oft in doubt
If I can tell exactly what about.
Ah yes! his little foot and ancle trim,
’Tis there the seat of reason lies in him;
A wise philosopher would shake his head, ­
He then, of course, must shake his foot instead.
At me in vengeance shall that foot be shaken —
Another proof of thought, I’m not mistaken —
Because to his cat’s eyes I hold a glass
And let him see himself a proper ass?

(source: Edgar Allan Poe “Oh, Tempora! Oh, Mores!”)

Yes, who among us could not use a little dose of historical perspective, just now?

written on All Souls, 2013

Thanks to my first supporters in my Kickstarter campaign to promote The Clay Pot!  Here’s a poem from just a couple years back:

“All Soul’s Vigil”

Leave silences to Autumn. Let them fall.
I have enough to do to stand the chill,
And need the cheer. Rebuke me how you will,
Allowing me this only: one last call.
Sulky embers warm, and I recall
Outpourings from a heart that drank its fill
Of amber, ruby, white, by cask or still.
All words read ripe; each echoed in the hall.
I do not know how many days remain.
A year, a day, a week? The bowl will break,
And out will pour the mead, a golden lake
That tarnishes ’til swift hands blot the stain.
Then pour me out. Be all my words undone,
Save only this, which marks what I have won.

PGE 11-01-2013

This poem appears in my third collection, Going Home Words.

Ten years ago

Thanks to my first supporters in my Kickstarter campaign to promote The Clay Pot!  Here’s a poem that was published in The Penwood Review, a Southern California poetry journal that was a frequent outlet for my mentor, Dr. Pilkey.  This was written as I contemplated my return from Japan in 2006, and first appeared in print in 2007:

“To Have Boldly Gone”

Where I have been through three unthinking years
Is not so far from where you knew me, when
You’d looked through all I’d never seen and been
Surprised by what might grow from showered tears;
And yet, we’ve read our way up through the spheres;
Heard creaking, clanking music; filled a den
With smoke and dreams and laughter; but again
Stilled all these things except what rhyme reveres—
So you who know me well, consider yet
That all I have not thought of still has been
Caught up in all I’ve seen, and each I’ve met
Has been to tell me now what I knew then:
That where we stumble boldly, still there’s grace
Trips over all we’ve done and saves our place.

PGE 5-27-2006

This poem was later published in my first collection, Depth Perception.