The Woodland Pattern Poetry Marathon is this weekend

This is my third year contributing.

Here is a Twitter pic from last year, 2016.

Heather captured some great photos from the 2015 poetry marathon. Those photos are lost somewhere on Facebook. It was the first time I read at Woodland Pattern. And the first time I read along side the best poets in Racine. It was a magical night.

The Annual Poetry Marathon & Benefit at Woodland Pattern, Milwaukee, begins at 10:00AM. $10 donation taken at the door. I will be reading between 4-5PM. I would love to see you there and say “hi” and “thank you.”

Sponsor me by donating $5 or whatever using Woodland Pattern’s PayPal donation button (click here). Any amount helps. Make sure you enter “Matt Mulder” in the space provided for “Reader’s Name.” And thank you for your support!

Woodland Pattern’s 23rd Annual Poetry Marathon & Benefit

%e2%88%9awoodland-pattern-events_269_landscape_image Woodland Pattern celebrates the 23rd Annual Poetry Marathon & Benefit this weekend, January 28, 2017!

Join me and 150 poets as we raise funds for Woodland Pattern’s programming in literature and the arts. Money raised at the poetry marathon funds opportunities such as the Urban Youth Literary Arts Program.

The Annual Poetry Marathon & Benefit at Woodland Pattern, Milwaukee, begins at 10:00AM. $10 donation taken at the door. If you cannot attend, no worries. Sponsor me by donating $5, $10, $20 or more using Woodland Pattern’s PayPal donation button (click here). Any amount helps. Make sure you enter “Matt Mulder” in the space provided for “Reader’s Name.” And thank you for your support!

If you are planning to attend Woodland Pattern’s Annual Poetry Marathon, you may still sponsor me (here). I will be reading between 4-5PM. I would love to see you there and say “hi” and “thank you.”

Should be a great lit-filled weekend event. Hope to see you at Woodland Pattern!

A holiday podcast for Christmas Day

200612211149529[sqr]

There was a short story I wrote when I lived in my adopted hometown. I posted it last year.[1] An edited version of it was published in an indie newspaper ten years ago this month.[2] Hope you enjoy the story. Merry Christmas!


A Christmas story: Our home is waiting for us

by Matthew Mulder

DSCN3236[sqr-classic-dallas]

Westville Pub was busier than I thought for a Christmas Eve. It looked like we were not the only ones escaping the chilly, damp Appalachian December night. My small family arrived a little after eight in the evening to enjoy an energetic performance by Gypsy Bandwagon. There was only one booth available near the back that we quickly populated. The bar maid took my order for a pint of ale, chips and salsa and ginger ale.

Gypsy Bandwagon, self-described as genre-challenged, played lively Irish and Scottish jigs and reels, a bit of Bluegrass, classical piano solos and traditional gypsy pieces. Lead guitarist and vocalist shared singing chores with his wife, an accomplished violinist and keyboardist. The drummer,Uncle Biscuit, complemented his wife, a multi-instrumentalist, who played everything from the violin to the bass guitar. The band put on a free concert for the holiday crowd and brought gifts to give away to people in the Pub. With festive flare they gave away wrapped gifts if you owned a dog or claimed to be a Chicago Cubs fan or if you liked the last number they performed you got a free Gypsy Bandwagon CD.

Many traditional Christmas favorites filled their set list that pleased the crowd. A 16th century carol haunted me. I don’t even remember the name of it, but I imagined a New England tavern must have sounded much like that over two hundred years ago. I wondered about the first Christmas celebration.

Rome. December 25, 336 was the first recorded celebration of Christmas. Was there egg nog? Probably not. St. Francis of Assisi assembled one of the first Nativity scenes in Greccio, Italy on December 25, 1223. Nearly a thousand years between those two dates—and a lot of history. Leap forward nearly 600 hundred years, the well-known Christmas carol “Silent Night” was performed for the first time at the Church of Saint Nikolaus in Oberndorff, Austria on Christmas day in 1818. What will Christmas celebrations will be like in 100 years?

Thinking back to how I was raised by my parents, I suspect the notion of attending a gig in a pub with kids on Christmas Eve must seem odd—if not a bit disturbing. My oldest loved the whole experience. I am not sure if it was the ginger ale or the nachos or the bouncing on the booth seat to the music or the fact that he was up past his bed time. He seemed glad to be there. His baby brother fell asleep.

Uncle Biscuit came back and said hello during a quick intermission. He and his wife are good friends. It was getting late. After wishing him and his wife a Merry Christmas, we left.

It had begun to rain outside as the family gathered into the car. We drove home with the windshield lightly swishing away the rain droplets. When we arrived home my son said, “Our home is waiting for us.” I like that expression—home is waiting for us. The smell of fresh-cut poplar was sweet in the damp night air as we entered our waiting home.

Christmas morning. My family attended church. Coena Domini, or Eucharist, was celebrated. In low church fellowships it is called “the Lord’s Supper” or “communion.” Supper seems so common for a sacred “feast” on Sunday morning. Well, it was twelve ordinary guys that witnessed the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

As the elements of Eucharist were distributed, I thought of Jesus — the babe born in Bethlehem. He reportedly fulfilled more than 300 prophesies. During the morning homily I read of ten of those prophesies. I found the fulfilled prophesies amazing. Ann Rice admitted to discovering similar facts while she researched her book, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.

What I did not find fascinating was the small plastic cup filled with grape juice and a crumb of broken Saltines. Is this not a Blessed Sacrament—as some Christians call it. I had a challenge finding anything sacred about a swallow of grape juice and a scrap of cracker. But these are simple reminders of a greater narrative.

Jeremy Huggins, author of literary nonfiction, posed the question, is there “any reason why I couldn’t go through the Communion line more than once?” Initially I responded: “When was the last time anyone ate a suggestion of bread and a swallow of wine and called it supper?”

For some reason I thought of the pale ale and nachos I had consumed the previous night at Westville Pub. Why is it that ale and nachos are not sacred reminders of the holy truth? Maybe that is a bit sacrilegious to be considered on Christmas—a holiday. Holiday means “a religious feast day.” A day like any other day recognized as sacred, hallowed, sanctified seems out-of-place in American culture.

As I held a swallow of grape juice and a scrap of cracker in my hands that Christmas morning, I remembered the night the Christ was betrayed. He shared his last meal of wine and bread with twelve ordinary, mostly nondescript guys who were being prepared to turn the world upside down. I identified with Jesus the Christ by taking the Eucharist. Am I more holy now than I was before? Does a day change its nature simply because it is recognized as sacred? I will leave those questions to the philosophers and theologians. “Our home is waiting for us,” my eldest child said on Christmas Eve. In more ways than the child realizes, that statement just might explain the reality of Christmas.


Listen to an abridged audio version of this story:

NOTES:
[1] A Christmas Story
[2] Recently Published Writings

Poetry podcast for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold

by Madeleine L’Engle

 

The winter is cold, is cold.
All’s spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?

If joy’s gone from my heart
Then it is closed to You
Who made it, gave it life.
If I protect myself
I’m hiding, Lord, from you.
How we defend ourselves
In ancient suits of mail!

Protected from the sword,
Shrinking from the wound,
We look for happiness,
Small, safety-seeking, dulled,
Selfish, exclusive, in-turned.
Elusive, evasive, peace comes
Only when it’s not sought.

Help me forget the cold
That grips the grasping world.
Let me stretch out my hands
To purifying fire,
Clutching fingers uncurled.
Look! Here is the melting joy.
My heart beats once again.[1]


This audio podcast features the poem “The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold” by Madeleine L’Engle and concludes with a selection from the Book of Common Prayer that is often read on Christmas Day.

NOTES:
[1] Source: The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold by Madeleine L’Engle
[2] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)

Baby, it’s cold outside

dscn6640sqr-basic-lomo-sunkissedlores
The outside air temperature this morning, when I woke up, was -6°F. Won’t event mention the windchill factor. The window completely frosted over. It is December. Wonderfully cold and beautiful.

Almost wanted to spend the day in bed composing a new list of twelve Advent poems to accompany the ever popular post Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry). Here’s one Advent poem I am considering for a new list.


The birth of wonder[1]
by Madeleine L’Engle

When I am able to pray with the mind in the heart, I am joyfully
able to affirm the irrationality of Christmas.

As I grow older
I get surer
Man’s heart is colder,
His life no purer.
As I grow steadily
More austere
I come less readily
To Christmas each year.
I can’t keep taking
Without a thought
Forced merrymaking
And presents bought
In crowds and jostling.
Alas, there’s naught
In empty wassailing
Where oblivion’s sought.
Oh, I’d be waiting
With quiet fasting
Anticipating
A joy more lasting.
And so rhyme
With no apology
During this time
Of eschatology:
Judgement and warning
Come like thunder.
But now is the hour
When I remember
An infant’s power
On a cold December.
Midnight is dawning
And the birth of wonder.

NOTES:
[1] “The birth of wonder” by Madeleine L’Engle. Published in the book WinderSong by Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw.

A cold, bright Cathedral Square Park

dscn6629sqr-basic-lomo-lofilores

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, full moon (or nearly full moon) rising, and Christmas lights brighten the cold December night.

Thanks to all the new Advent Poems visitors

Just wanted to say thank you to all the new visitors to this blog!

When I composed Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry) and other related posts and podcasts, I had no idea that they would be the most visited posts each year. For a single post to bring in thousands of visitors a month is amazing.

Again, much thanks to new visitors and hope you enjoy the seasonal poetry and podcasts!

The story behind Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

Since the tradition curating advent poems[1] was started a few years ago, I found this story[2] particularly interesting.

NOTES:
[1] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry), December 13, 2012, https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2012/12/13/2013-advent-poems-or-the-12-days-of-christmas-poetry/.
[2] Justin Taylor, “THE TRUE STORY OF PAIN AND HOPE BEHIND “I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY”,” http://www.thegospelcoalition.org, December 21, 2014, accessed December 11, 2016 https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2014/12/21/the-story-of-pain-and-hope-behind-i-heard-the-bells-on-christmas-day/.

Poetry podcast for the Third Sunday of Advent

The God We Hardly Knew

by Óscar Romero

No one can celebrate
a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor.
The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have
everything, look down on others,
those who have no need
even of God- for them there
will be no Christmas.
Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone
to come on their behalf,
will have that someone.
That someone is God.
Emmanuel. God-with-us.
Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God.[1]


This audio podcast features “The House of Christmas” by GK Chesterton, “The God We Hardly Knew” by Óscar Romero and a selection from the Book of Common Prayer.

 

FolkAngel_GladTidingsAlso, special thanks to Folk Angel for permission to use “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” from their album Glad Tidings – Christmas Songs, Vol. 4. If you are looking for some great Christmas records, check out their website, FolkAngel.com.

NOTES:
[1] Source: The God We Hardly Knew by Óscar Romero
[2] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)

Poetry podcast for the Second Sunday of Advent

Nativity

from La Corona

by John Donne

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.[1]


This audio podcast features “Mosaic of the Nativity (Serbia, Winter 1993)” by Jane Kenyon, “Nativity” by John Donne, “A Christmas Carol” by Christina Georgina Rossetti and a selection from the Book of Common Prayer.

 

FolkAngel_Comfort&JoySpecial thanks to Folk Angel for permission to use “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” from their album Comfort & Joy – Christmas Songs, Vol. 3. If you are looking for some great Christmas records, check out their website, FolkAngel.com.

NOTES:
[1] Source: “Nativity” by John Donne
[2] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)