Joannie Stangeland, “An Hour for Practice”

It’s hard to say if the music of poetry creates the emotion in a poem, or if it is the poet’s emotion that creates the music.” –Kenneth Koch

Over at Joannie Stangeland’s blog, where she is offering a poetry prompt per day this month, today’s prompt is about sound. A perfect day, it seems to me, to share one of Joannie’s poems. I have two of her books on my shelf, A Steady Longing for Flight, which was (in 1995) the very first book chosen by Floating Bridge Press for its chapbook series; and Into the Rumored Spring (Ravenna Press, 2011). I am also happy to recommend her new book, In Both Hands (also Ravenna). You can read more about Joannie at this site.

Joannie wrote “Into the Rumored Spring” for a friend with cancer. Here is a poem from that collection in which the subject listens to her daughter practice her music. It is luscious to read out loud.


Thrum to the hum of her heart,
a drum — and from the next room
the boom of the bass, the chase
of the cymbal, sticks racing
a paradiddle on the snare.
Get the triangle and tambourine,
castanets clacking like the flicker
that pecks at the streetlamp, clapping
like the sound of a book snapping shut.
Let the beat bounce off the walls
while down the hall the other daughter
blows the bassoon. Scales and arpeggios,
wood in the wind, a song of the forest
here, in the house. Oh,
banish all hush.

-Joannie Stangeland

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