Bilingual Poem: Lemon juice

lemon stained fingers
house smells like citrus
a jar of lemon juice

Dedos manchó con limón
casa huele como cidro
un tarro de zumo de limón

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Understanding: poems with explanations: the cover

Here is the cover to M. Sakran’s new book (currently available for pre-order), Understanding: poems with explanations:

Understanding: poems with explanations by M. Sakran

Understanding: poems with explanations is a soon to be self-published collection of twenty original poems with explanations of each of them.

Readers may be wondering about the cover – Where did it come from?  Why was it chosen?  Does it have any meaning?  And so forth.

The poems in the book, Understanding: poems with explanations, are obviously explained in the book.  The cover, however, is not.  Here, therefore, is some explanation of the cover.

When trying to decide the cover for a book (a notably important decision), there are a lot of different options.  A person could pay for one or do it themselves.  A person could go the route of artwork or photography or just text or some combination.  There are decisions about colors and fonts and spacing and so forth.  It can be a lot.

The cover for this book is a computer altered photograph.  Generally, the computer alteration, made the colors brighter and fuller.  On top of that, text was added.

The photograph for the cover is of part of a citrus tree.  Although the fruits may look like limes, they are actually unripe oranges.

Originally, the idea for the cover was to take an up close photograph of an insect or a flower and computer alter it.  There have been examples of this type of photography (not computer altered) on the blog and on MSakran.com and they generally look nice.

It was proving difficult though to find something acceptable for the cover.  The cover would be a lasting thing and needed to be something special and fit in some way.  In the process of searching for an appropriate photograph, a lot of time was spent around a certain citrus tree.  This lead to the idea of, why not photograph the tree?

Many photographs of the tree were taken and the one selected seemed the best.  It had a combination of multiple fruits and full leaves.  After the improved effect of the computer alteration, it seemed to be the right choice.  It was bright, full, and stood out.

White text was chosen (in M. Sakran’s preferred font) to provide contrast.

In a certain way, the cover was arrived at simply.  It was a nice computer altered photograph.  In examining it after the fact though, there is a lot behind it.

Readers of the blog will know that citrus has been a recurring feature on the blog.  There are quite a few posts that reference citrus and there was even a citrus series on the blog.  The main reason for this is that M. Sakran currently has access to five citrus trees (one of which is very large).  Often these trees have interesting things on them and they make for good photographs and artwork subjects.  Additionally, citrus trees and things about them can lend themselves to certain poetic ideas.

Although trying to reflect something from the blog was not at the forefront of the decision to use this cover, it does turn out that it helps tie the book and blog together.

As defined by M. Sakran, because of the computer alteration, this cover is artwork.  Despite that though, many make look at it as a photograph and ask, “Why wasn’t a less photography based artwork (like charcoal or colored pencil or a water color artwork) used for the cover?”  Some may feel that a different type of artwork cover might fit a book with poetry better.  There were actually a few reasons for this.

One was the idea of standing out.  There was the thought to have a cover that would be different from other books that contain poetry.  Hopefully this bright green cover achieved that.

Another point, was the fact, that artwork sometimes has a hit or miss quality.  Some people really like an artwork, whereas others may not get it.  A photograph of a plant somewhat avoids this problem.  Not everyone will like a photograph of a citrus tree, but it shouldn’t confuse anyone.

Another idea, and one that M. Sakran is hesitant to admit, is that sometimes M. Sakran’s artworks can be hit or miss.  Not every artwork M. Sakran has created has come out amazingly (although quite a few on the blog and website, have been, in M. Sakran’s opinion, very nice).  Sometimes, some people, may not like them.  To help avoid this problem, an artistically altered photograph was used instead of artwork of another medium.

Some may wonder why a self-made cover was used as opposed to a paid for one.  The considerations for this were generally practical.  A good cover can cost quite a bit of money.  It was just not something M. Sakran could spend.  Also, there was the idea of copyright issues.  Although this can be discussed when a cover is purchased, these issues can generally be avoided when the cover is self-made.  Another practical issue was the idea of communication.  Seeing a cover in your head is one thing.  Communicating that to another person is another.  This was avoided with a self-made cover.

Some good questions to ask about the cover are, “How does the cover relate to the overall idea of the book?”  “How does the cover relate to the title of the book?”  “Does the cover relate to any specific parts of the book?”

In looking for a good subject for the cover, there was the idea of having it relate, somehow, to the idea of understanding.  That is part of the title and idea of the book and seemed something important to reflect.  The idea of understanding though, is a broad one, and it basically manifested itself as a search for something that seemed significant in some way (like an up close photograph of an insect might).  Upon reflection, it can be seen that this cover does reflect the idea of the book well.

The book is about explaining something (poetry) that might at first pass be somewhat mystifying.  This cover in some ways reflects that idea.

First, as mentioned, these fruits are oranges.  In the cover though, they don’t look like ripe oranges.  They either look like limes or like unripe citrus fruits (which they are).  This idea is a lot like the book.  At first pass, a poem in the book might seem to be about a certain thing or reflect a certain emotion.  The reality (as explained in the poem’s explanation) can be different though.

In another sense, this cover depicts something that is unripe.  This “unripe-ness” can be seen to parallel the idea of the book.  These fruit aren’t “finished” in some way.  The poems in the book, aren’t in some sense finished, until they are explained.

These fruit have a mystery.  What are they?  What are they going to be?  This mystery reflects the mystery of what the poems in the book really mean before they are explained.

In another sense, these fruits have something inside.  There is the outer peal that gives the appearance, but there is something hidden within.  This idea is a lot like the poems in the book.  The poems have a certain feel and ideas when read, but in addition to that, there is a meaning in them that is revealed in the explanations.

As a note, the cover to the book is not reflected in any particular poem in the book (and vice versa).  The idea was to have the cover give a universal representation of what was inside.

Hopefully readers of this blog, and future readers of the book, like this cover.  There was some thought to it, and hopefully, after reading this explanation of it, it will be even more appreciated.  If you would like to let M. Sakran know what you think of the cover, use the form on the contact page.

Post Series: The Christmas Series: A photograph to inspire poetry: Citrus fruits on a tree

Citrus fruits on a tree

This is a photograph of citrus fruits on a tree.  While citrus fruits on a tree might not seem Christmas related, they in fact are.

First, these citrus fruits were on this particular tree on December 19, 2015.  Presumably, they will be on the tree on Christmas.

Second, Christmas trees are evergreens.  Although M. Sakran is not knowledgeable of the botanical definition of an evergreen, under the assumption that an evergreen is a tree that retains its leaves all year, then this citrus tree, at least where M. Sakran lives, appears to be an evergreen.

Third, Christmas is often celebrated in part with ornaments on evergreen trees.  If ornaments are considered to be a bright decoration, and in particular spherical ones, then these fruits on this evergreen tree (again, assuming it is an evergreen tree) are, in fact, natural Christmas ornaments.

Fourth, citrus fruits, although not necessarily these as they have proven to be quite sour, can often be a nice treat on Christmas day.

For the above reasons, this photograph of citrus fruits on a tree is Christmas related.  As such, it can inspire Christmas related poetry.  Some ideas include poems about:

  • Christmas treats (particularly citrus fruits)
  • Ornaments in nature
  • The natural world and Christmas
  • Things that might not at first glance seem Christmas related, being written about as being Christmas related

A photograph to inspire poetry: Acorns in a citrus tree

Acorns in a citrus tree

This is a photograph of acorns in a citrus tree.  The acorns fell into the tree and were not placed there.

This photograph can inspire a number of poetic ideas.  For example, a poet could write about:

  • Things that are different, being together
  • Something being out of place
  • Chance (as in, the acorns came to be in the citrus tree by chance)
  • Something being hidden

Artwork to inspire poetry: Green frog on a citrus leaf

Green Frog On A Citrus Leaf Artwork

The above artwork, was made using the photograph of a green frog on a citrus leaf, from this past Thursday’s post, as a reference.  It was made using colored pencils.

This artwork could inspire poetry in a number of ways.  A poet could write about:

  • The frog resting
  • The frog hiding
  • The frog waiting
  • Camouflage in nature
  • Amphibians
  • Hopping
  • Trees
  • Citrus

Post Series: The Citrus Series: Bilingual Poem: The mystery

Lemon?

Orange?

Something else?

The mystery,
of the unripe,
citrus fruit.

 

¿Limón?

¿Naranja?

¿Otra cosa?

El misterio,
de el verde,
agrio.

 

As mentioned before, M. Sakran is not bilingual.  Therefore, it is possible that some mistakes are made in translating the English poems into Spanish.  Please forgive any mistakes that are made.

As a note, this is the last post in the Citrus Series.  The photograph for the post can be seen here: The Citrus Series.

Post Series: The Citrus Series: Experimental Poetry Form: Acrostic matching and rhyming

In the Citrus Series post on June 16th, it was mentioned in the explanation of the poem, that one reason a sonnet was chosen for part of the poem, was that a sonnet did not have repeating lines.  The idea was, that given that the poem was an acrostic poem using the phrase “Unripe Citrus Fruit”, that a poetry form, such as a triolet, would not fit, because the repeats would not match the acrostic characteristic of the poem.  It was mentioned that, to have a repeating poem match the acrostic nature of the poem, that an experimental poetry form would need to be used.  That is the basis of this experimental poetry form.

The general structure of the experimental poetry form consists of three aspects:

  1. It is an acrostic poem of a short phrase.
  2. The letters in the phrase that match, correspond to matching sets of lines in the poem.
  3. The group of letters that appear only once in the phrase, are rhyming lines in the poem.

As an illustration, here is how the form applies to the phrase “Unripe Citrus Fruit”:

  • The poem is an acrostic poem of the phrase “Unripe Citrus Fruit”
  • The first, eleventh, and fifteenth lines of the poem are the same
  • The fourth, eighth, and sixteenth lines of the poem are the same
  • The third, tenth, and fourteenth lines of the poem are the same
  • The ninth and seventeenth lines of the poem are the same
  • The second, fifth, sixth, seventh, twelve, and thirteenth lines of the poem rhyme

The matching sets of lines, match the matching letters in the phrase “Unripe Citrus Fruit”.  For example, the “U” lines match.  The letters in the phrase that only appear once, such as “N”, are the rhyming lines.

This is a specific example of the general experimental poetry form.  Its use would vary depending on the starting phrase.

Here is an example poem, in the form, using the phrase “Unripe Citrus Fruit” and inspired by the photograph of the series:

Underneath the sun,
next to leaves that are green,
reclining behind a leaf,
it seems to rest.

  Perhaps it seeks to glean,
  enchantment from what is seen,
  content as it does lean.

It seems to rest,
there where it is,
reclining behind a leaf,
underneath the sun.

Seeking what rest does mean,
finding no need to preen,
  reclining behind a leaf,
  underneath the sun,
it seems to rest,
there where it is.

 

P.S.  Today on MSakran.com, there is a new set of photography, artwork, poetry and fiction.  As mentioned before, the photograph, artwork and fiction can inspire poetry, and the poem there can be read.

Post Series: The Citrus Series: Poetry topic idea: Imperfection

Today’s poetry topic idea comes from the Citrus Series.  In the other posts of the series, various ideas were mentioned or illustrated.  One idea that has not been mentioned is that of imperfection.  The surface of the unripe citrus fruit in the photograph is not smooth.  It has imperfections.  Imperfection is the poetry topic idea for today.

Like many things, imperfection could be viewed from different angles.  It might be seen as positive.  For example, a golf ball is not perfectly smooth, and yet this is done on purpose to improve how it is used.  Alternatively, imperfections could be viewed negatively.  They can be seen as flaws.  An example might be an imperfection in a piece of machinery that causes it not to work.  Lastly, imperfections could be indifferent.  Something might be a centimeter off, but no one notices and it has no effect.

The idea of imperfection and the different angles from which it can be viewed can be used as a topic for poetry.  For example, if a poet wanted to relate the idea of imperfection directly to the subject of the photograph of the Citrus Series, a poet might pick some imperfection and view it from the three different angles.  For example, a poet might write a poem about where the tree the fruit is growing on is growing.  They could describe how that place does not match the ideal (for example it is too far north or south, or too shady or sunny, or on too small a piece of land or with too much open space around it) and write how those things affect the tree and the fruit.  They could write in a poem how the imperfections have positive, negative and indifferent effects.

Post Series: The Citrus Series: Poem with an explanation: Ripening citrus fruit

Upon a citrus tree there grows a fruit,
not ripened by the sun but still so green,
remaining there in its small verdure suit,
its yellow one right now cannot be seen.

Perhaps a time will come when time does pass,
eight weeks or more from where things are today,
contained within, the fruit may change its mass,
increasing as its hue does change each day.

The fruit may change to something that does glow,
remaining on the tree by the green leaves,
upon the branch its yellow hue may flow,
surrounding it as if in basket weaves.

From now till then the fruit may change its look,
resplendently shining in its green nook.

 

Upon the green branch,
it blends in now but may change,
the butterfly shines.

 

 

This poem is comprised of three forms combined together.  The whole poem is an acrostic poem that spells “Unripe Citrus Fruit”.  Within that, the first fourteen lines are a sonnet, and the last three lines are a haiku.

An acrostic poem was chosen because it would, at least in a minimal way, tie the poem to the idea of the Citrus Series.  Additionally, the poem is about an unripe citrus fruit ripening.  The photograph of the series can be seen here: The Citrus Series.

A sonnet was chosen because it was longer in length than some shorter poetry forms, and because, unlike a triolet for example, it did not have lines that repeated.  Repeating lines would not have been impossible, but would have required an experimental poetry form to accomplish it.

A haiku was chosen, because it is three lines long, and with the fourteen lines of the sonnet, it totals the seventeen lines necessary for the acrostic poem.  Additionally, there was the idea, that a haiku would sound different than the sonnet and would provide an interesting change at the end of the poem.