Poem Elf is a blog for lovers of poetry and mischief. Or maybe just mischief. You really don’t have to like poems to enjoy the postings. In fact my fantasy is to convert the poem-indifferent to poem-curious.
I myself like poems and secret tricks. Poem Elf is the place where I indulge both. It’s my version of “The Elves and the Shoemaker” except instead of nighttime shoe-making I do secret poem-placings. Releasing poems from books and sending them out in the world becomes a conversation with mystery and beauty, as if there were a third elf in the story (and that would be me) whose job is to position the exquisite shoes just so for the cobbler and his wife to discover in the morning.
I’m not a poet and I’m not a scholar. My tastes are pretty simple. I like short-ish poems I can comprehend on the first reading but understand over a lifetime. The poems I pick are for everyone, not just for those who have a favorite poet but also for folks who last read a poem on a graduation card.
What happens to a poem after I leave it? Perhaps it lands in a trashcan, pulled down from a wall by an amused janitor; or it’s blown away from its scotch tape fastenings, picked up by a bird, and woven expertly into a nest; raked into a leaf pile and composted, helping things grow in a different way than I had intended; shoved in a back pocket, forgotten, and balled up in the wash; or, my best hope, tucked in a stranger’s wallet, pulled out from time to time, each reading bringing an expansion of sorts, each reading taken in like a drink to quench the deep thirst we all have for meaning and beauty.
I would love to post some of the blogs to our facebook.. the photos and poems, mixed with your thoughts of lovely and colorful! Think about it..motherscenterbb on facebook
I love this!
Dear Poem Elf,
Your sister, Ceci, sent your blog to her book club. I am so happy that she did. I thoroughly enjoy the poems you choose and the insights you share. And your real world postings make me smile.
Okay Poem Elf – you must publish these into a book. I love the poems and your analysis and personal stories – really touching and beautiful. That part about your mom and her memories of your dad – made me cry!
I LOVE THE POEM ELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a wonderful idea! I love it and I love your writing and of course the poems…. Much needed in the world today and what a blessing to find one of these poems taped up somewhere unexpected. Beautiful and good work!
Your old friend from Bethesda, Peaches
i tried to send this a few times, let me try again:
i am hooked on your site. i love how you take the poem physically and mentally out of the book; pasting it up somewhere and then your own ruminations. lynn
this continues to be utterly delightful! love the petoskey/bay view photographs, and the way you have used the poems with them. really fresh, thought provoking….lynn
Just discovered your site. What a fun idea!!
thanks, I like your site too. How cool to blog with your husband of 40 years!
What a lovely way to spread elfish goodness! Love your site. Your header picture of the little elf is a swooner.
thanks, granny! (though you hardly look old enough to be one) I’m enjoying your site too….it’s like a big fun drawer full of things to look at and play with.
You’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award 🙂
thanks! I don’t really know what this is, but thank you!
I loved your “Flush with Joy” posting, and decided to go to Idiot Books as the back of my toilet sports only rocks and a dead orchid. I bought a few things (OK, quite a few things) and received the following email:
Well Hello, Janet!
Thank YOU. If you don’t mind my asking, who are you, and what in the world inspired you to send us so much of your money?
We’re pleased, of course, but entirely baffled.
These books will go in tomorrow’s mail.
To which I replied:
Hello — and what a charming email. I subscribe to the Poem Elf, and I read over your website (as she suggested), and was as intrigued as she suggested I would be. My nephew and his wife are about to have twins so the baby book (one of them) is for them. Do read the Poem Elf today.
Now I am inspired to buy even more of their books — after all, how often is one personally thanked by an on-line store?
Gee, how many of us have rocks and a dead orchid? They looked so pretty once….glad you’ve found Idiots’ Books–you’ll love them!
What a delight to find your light hearted (yet meaningful) writings and musings.
I am looking forward to reading more – not sure that I will agree with everything you say – but then you would not expect me to continually toe any line.
wow, good for you! I love poetry, write some, read some. The idea of posting poems here and there — and your darling description of what might happen to them after you’ve done your deed — makes me smile. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Just read your comments on Edna St. Vincent Millay, and went through a like response, thought, appreciation of her poetry if not as much of her sequence, and am glad she wrote and totally admire her work.
Also, I just signed onto your blog, having been told about it by a friend, who I cannot thank enough for leading me to it, as I will continually thank you for being the poem elf.
Thanks so much for following and your kind words.
I’m intrigued by your comment about Vincent Millay’s sequencing. Can you go into that a little more (if you happen to read this response)?
You’ve a fascinating website. I just came upon it while searching online for Javier Gálvez’s “This Morning.” Your placing of poems in cityscapes or landscapes, where they may unexpectedly transform passers-by, is itself a poetic re-visioning of things. I think you’re doing a public service.
Thank you! Public service sure beats public nuisance.
Were you able to find out anything more about Galvez? How did you come across him in the first place?
Years ago I found a used paperback poetry text in our local dump. (The occasion was better than that sounds: there is a little shack at the dump, with shelving.) The book was Fine Frenzy: Enduring Themes in Poetry, Robert Baylor & Brenda Stokes, eds., MacGraw-Hill, 2nd edition, 1978.
The book is listed on Amazon and other sites.
BUT I still couldn’t find anything on Gálvez himself. The “Acknowledgments” section in Fine Frenzy has (inexplicably) nothing; specifically, there is a gap between Robert Frost and Langston Hughes, a gap where Javier Gálvez should be.
I was looking online in the first place for “This Morning” because I was searching for a site (such as Garrison Keillor’s) that would let me share the poem … with my sister on her birthday. I was just being lazy, since after all I had a print copy of the poem; luckily I came across your site.
Interesting, because that’s the exact same anthology I found the poem in when I was visiting my sister. An old college text of hers, maybe. Finding it at the dump is even better….a shack of shelves at the dump!….what a great way to share old books.
I had the same experience of failing to find a bio on the poet anywhere. Galvez seems to exist in only that anthology!
Well, a postscript to the mysterious Javier Gálvez. I went looking for more information, wound up contacting McGraw-Hill. Here is what I found out (identifiers removed):
Hello. You are correct in that I am not the person who can help you, as I work in the ——- division of McGraw-Hill, not on the textbooks side. However, I did some research on the book to see if I could point you to the correct person who would work on it.
Unfortunately, even if we were to get in touch with someone on the textbook side, there really isn’t any way they could remedy the situation. Fine Frenzy, the book that you are referring to, has been out of print since 1999. This means that the book has fallen out of use and the only copies that still exist are second-hand. There are no plans to reprint it, thus there is no way to alter the Acknowledgements or to make a correction.
So I still know nothing about this poet. (I really wasn’t interested in corrections in any event, just wanted information.)
I sense a story in here somewhere. . . keep at it. . . and thanks for the update.
Found it! The Javier Gálvez poem “This Morning” is on p. 32 of Encanto Chicano (1971). Here is an attempted link to Google Books:
There’s a chance I didn’t put this link in correctly, but Encanto Chicano can be googled and it comes up on Google Books. It seems unavailable though, out of print I guess –– so the citation exists but not the book.
YOU ARE FANTASTIC! i do some similar projects in NYC – #poetsinthewildnyc for national poetry month (on fb, twitter, instagram) and here – tinyurl.com/compassproject, etc. let’s be friends! keep spreading your lit love and light! XO
Audrey, How cool that we found each other. I love your round labels…the poems look great (visual presentation is something I don’t put a lot of time into and I should), and the poems themselves are short but meaty….just right for a hurried pedestrian who needs a little beauty in her day.
I had trouble finding you on line…here’s a better link for interested readers: http://audreydimola.com/poetry-performance/compass-project-guerrilla-poetry/
I’ll be following you on twitter to keep up with your work! Thanks for stopping by here.
Found you purely by chance. What sheer delight you brought to my morning. Thank you Poem Elf!
Thanks for reading!
I have taken the liberty of referencing your delightful site on my blog. I have reproduced one image from one of your posts. I hope you don’t object. One of the images of a poem from your site has a disclaimer that the Poem Elf holds sole copyright to it. I trust this is acceptable.
That’s wonderful, thank you. Just visited your blog. It’s great!
I don’t want to post a comment, but would like to suggest a few emendations to your commentary on Frank Stanford.Any way to do that without doing it as a public comment?
(That asked, I appreciate what you’ve posted.)
— Ralph Adamo
You can email me at email@example.com.
Looking forward to getting your comments.
Hey poem elf, I was just thinking this morning of the Milosz poem A Day So Happy, googled it and found your site. Great idea, what you do here, and I’ll come back to see what you’re up to
Thanks for stopping by!
You have the greatest (pen) name ever…and how lucky you are to be collaborating with a sister! I’ll be checking up on your site as well.
What a wonderful idea for spreading joy, goodness around. Look out my little city and beyond on my travels too…Thanks a mill poemelf…I am a poet too…:-)
I love that you do this. it makes me so happy.
Thank you, happy to oblige.
glad I found you, and this site (there is a difference). your found & shared poetry reminds me of this, read while gazing upon the wall of a rockety, rickety El train in Chicago:
Tell em to take my bare walls down
my cement abutments
their parties thereof
and clause of claws
Leave me the land
Scratch out: the land
May prose and property both die out
and leave me peace
– Lorine Niedecker
So it was a graffiti poem? Thanks for sending it along!
What a beautiful idea. Makes me look at my city – Cap Town South Africa – in a different light. Thank you
Great to know someone across the world is reading this….Thanks for commenting!
Very glad to have discovered your blog.
Thanks for stopping by!
I love what you are doing! It´s very inspiring.
In fact, I wanted to invite you to be a part of a small idea I launched this month, but I don´t want to write in public about it. Would you mind getting in touch with me?
Enjoy your December!
Sure. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is such a generous activity. I love it and was delighted to meet you in person. You remind me of my favorite movie “Amalie.” Very elfin in nature and hilarious. A warm aloha!
Thanks! I love your project too and will be featuring it Stay tuned.
Loved meeting you!
Thank you, love, love. Love this. Found you due to Timequake. Thank you.
Thank you! Please tell me what Timequake is
TO THE POEM ELF
It is wonderful
what you do
Your kindness and hope
Leaving a typed poem
on a supermarket shelf
The poem on aging
with the adult diapers
Your blog which is
thousands of years old
– Jim Ellis
Why goodness, thank you Jim! I love this.
Thanks so much, Tom. Both are treasures. Gratitude also for yips loving wisdom reflections…Love and a hug. Phil
It was a pleasure to meeting you Maggie, I appreciate the time you share with us sharing your story about poems and novels you wrote, it’s interesting the way how you share them in the streets, stores, parks, not only on your blog. I had wonderful time listening to my classmates asking you some questions about you and your job. When I was my turn to interview, I was a little nervous but so exited. You’re a very kind, friendly and nice person. You should visit us frequently to our class to share a little more about you and what’s new in your life, job. Also I want to thank my teacher Ceci for this beautiful surprise, for the special guess.
☺️ Silvia Mendino 😊
Silvia, I so enjoyed meeting you and your classmates today! All the questions made me think about what I do, and that’s always good to do, and the stories and interests everyone shared made me grateful to be a part of your group.
Thank you for writing in your comments!
I love what you do. Come to England so I might find them too!
ahhhh how I would love to!