Happy first Friday of Na/GloPoWriMo, all. We hope your poetic momentum is building as we head into our first weekend of the month.
Today’s featured participant is Voyagedesmots, where the photo-plus-translation poem for Day 4 is short, but wonderfully lyrical and beautiful!
We have a new craft resource for you today, consisting of Alberto Ríos’s thoughts on the poetic line. Unless you are writing prose poems, poems have line breaks. Which means we have to decide where we are breaking our lines, and why. I often get into the bad habit, when drafting, of breaking a line just because it looks long in comparison with the other lines in the poem. That’s not a very good reason! While line-breaking is more art than science (sometimes a break just feels right), I’ve been trying to take more time lately to slow down and really think about where a line should break.
And last but not least, here is our prompt for the day (optional, as always). Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that stretches your comfort zone with line breaks. That could be a poem with very long lines, or very short lines. Or a poem that blends the two. You might break to emphasize (or de-emphasize) sounds or rhymes, or to create a moment of hesitation in the middle of a thought. Looking for inspiration? You might take a look at this poem by Lorine Niedecker, this poem by Stanley Kunitz, or this one by Amiri Baraka.
There are 2 reasons why this excites me:
1) I only really started to learn about line breaks a few years ago, a year into writing poetry. I was guilty of breaking for framing and often used to end with a clipped endline with just a few words to the line and lots of white space. I learnt about white space and line breaks at the same time. Before I read about it I had only considered the space as the page, like a tablecloth for my poetry.
I am still learning, we never stop. I know words not to end a line on and feel the line breaks more accurately.
2) I discovered Stanley Kunitz only this year through the ATOTC Project I am running with poets in Massachusetts & UK.
I will come back to writing my poem, currently in a long line of TO DO List tasks!
The Poetry School Day 6
Day 6: Starship Tropers
What is a trope? According to tvtropes.org, a trope is “a convention…a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom”: it’s the college kids at the scary house deciding to split up, it’s the butler doing it, it’s the librarian removing her glasses…and…my God, she’s beautiful! I’m sure you can think of dozens more.
Today’s task is to write a poem that mentions, investigates, subverts or utilises a trope from literature, television, film, or music. tvtropes.org very helpfully has a blue ‘Random Trope’ button in the top right corner of the home page. I suggest you press that a few times to get the idea!
Now there’s a crazy, wild prompt if ever I saw one!
A few years ago (2014), I discovered an anthology at the launch in Swindon (as part of the Poetry Festival) packed full of poetry influenced by film. Double Bill Red Squirrel Press Edited by Andy Jackson. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I only wish I had been poeting in time to join in, the first I knew of it was at the launch.
So I am eager to get stuck into this prompt. Feels a little daunting at the moment.
So it is Day 9 and I am playing catch up, I have written a poem for Day 7 and realised I had this to do as well.
Much as I love the Poetry School prompt and the idea of using a trope, I think I need time to get my head around the tropes I have found and how I can work with them.
So I opted for the NaPo prompt. Alberto Ríos’s article on the Poetic Line was interesting, I am aware of the differences between poetry in the UK and USA (right now I am in the middle of editing a Transatlantic Project ATOTC, soon to be a digital magazine and have been fascinated by the differences).
My starting point was to re-read the article (3 days later) and I took out the crux of the nuggets and highlighted them in a document. Re-read the document several times to let my brain absorb the information. I wanted the ‘rules’ to be at the forefront of my mind whilst writing, but planned to come back to them in structuring subsequent/edited versions of my poem.
I also read the poems referenced, which is something I rarely do before writing my own. Then I decided what my subject was. As I owe Molly a final poem for our PoArtry collaboration I thought I would focus on ‘Flower Gel’, I wanted to challenge myself to use longer lines, my natural style is clipped and short lines.
The resulting poem certainly had long lines, mixed with some short ones. I will be sending it to Molly after it has rested and undergone an edit or two.
I imagined her to be tiny, hunched-over and permanently wearing a nightie.