Today’s featured participant is Oaks to Acorns, where the family anecdote poem for Day 17 powerfully evokes the sensation of a journey, and a homecoming.
Today we have a new craft resource for you, in the form of this collection of images of poets’ first drafts of their poems, complete with their crossings-out/notes. I find these particularly interesting in how they show a poet’s own evaluation of their initial thoughts – what works, what doesn’t work, what is too discursive, what is too confusing, and how certain lines/ideas can move from where they originally sat to new places to heighten the overall rhetorical effect of the poem.
Our prompt for the day (optional as always) isn’t exactly based in revision, but it’s not exactly not based in revision, either. It also sounds a bit more complicated than it is, so bear with me! First, find a poem in a book or magazine (ideally one you are not familiar with). Use a piece of paper to cover over everything but the last line. Now write a line of your own that completes the thought of that single line you can see, or otherwise responds to it. Now move your piece of paper up to uncover the second-to-last line of your source poem, and write the second line of your new poem to complete/respond to this second-to-last line. Keep going, uncovering and writing, until you get to the first line of your source poem, which you will complete/respond to as the last line of your new poem. It might not be a finished draft, but hopefully it at least contains the seeds of one.
we all presumed we would make adulthood,
Day 18: Questions
“Why does the hat of night / fly so full of holes?”
Often, the best poems don’t come from a place of certainty, but uncertainty — uncertainty is what allows exploration, surprise and novelty. One poet who resisted the urge to reach his dotage and set up a wisdom shop was Pablo Neruda, who continued to ask questions right up to his death. The Book of Questions, completed only a few months before he died, is a collection of brief poems composed entirely of questions. You can read it in its entirety here, in the original and in English translation by William O’Davy, but I’d like you to focus on the first four as your example poems. Your poems should be made up either entirely or mostly of a question or questions. Are you ready?
Pablo Neruda is one of my favourite poets! I would like to try this prompt as I generally dislike ? in poetry and try my best to avoid any lines that include questions. I will bank it for when I have more writing time.