Our featured participant today is Ordinary Average Thoughts, where the “play” poem for Day 16 veers off in a rather odd direction, but it was so interesting I couldn’t help but feature it!
We bring you a new interview today, and this one is very special to us, because it is with a poet who has long participated in Na/GloPoWriMo – Uma Gowrishankar. Her book of poems, Birthing History, was published last year by Leaky Boot Press. You can read her current crop of Na/GloPoWriMo poems here, some more of her work here, and you can check out our interview with her here.
Our prompt for the day (optional as always) follows Gowrishankar’s suggestion that we write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time. It could be the story of the time your Uncle Louis caught a home run ball, the time your Cousin May accidentally brought home a coyote and gave it a bath, thinking it was a stray dog, or something darker (or even sillier).
However, I have chosen the Poetry School prompt today as I often write about family and the only anecdotes that come to mind after a day at work are not inspiring poetry.
The Poetry School Day 17
Day 17: Spells, Charms and Hexes
There’s a close link between the poem and the spell: the belief in the power of words used exactly, the entwining of sound and meaning, the importance of rhythm and timing. And the oldest surviving poems are often charms, prayers and rituals. Among the most famous (in English) of these are the 12 surviving Anglo Saxon metrical charms, which have been translated by, among many others, poets such as Sarah Westcott and Richard Osmond. Today’s first example poem is the ‘Charm for Delayed Birth’, given here in both Old and modern English (you can find Westcott’s translation of the same poem in her book Slant Light).
Your second example poem is a little more modern: it’s Muriel Rukeyser’s 1947 poem ‘A Charm for Cantinflas’. More recently still, a number of excellent books from the last 18 months are full of spell poems, from healing charms to hexes, including Abigail Parry’s Jinx, Rebecca Perry’s Savage, and Richard Osmond’s Useful Verses, all of which are worth checking out.
A final note: your poem can be any kind of spell, but it should be a spell itself – no poems about spells.
I enjoyed reading A Charm for Cantinflas BY MURIEL RUKEYSER it was certainly a poem which wove magic, you reach the bottom and instantly want to read it again.
I am not entirely sure I have written a spell poem and it is definitely not a patch on those I have read.
- Wið færstice – For a Sudden Stitch
- You find a Miller’s wife, here, in the 21st century. Coffin nails
- to make a necklace, a woman – brave enough to wear it.