Monthly Archives: April 2020

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 21

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Today’s poetry resource is the archives of Poetry International, where you’ll find poems from all over the world, both in their original languages and in translation.

Today’s prompt asks you to make use of today’s resource. Find a poem in a language that you don’t know, and perform a “homophonic translation” on it.

Try to translate the poem simply based on how it sounds. You may not wind up with a credible poem at the end, but this can be a fun way to step outside of your own mind for a bit, and develop a poem that speaks in a distinctive voice. As an example, here are the first four lines of a poem by the Norwegian poet Gro Dahle:

Linnea ligger syk under treet
‒ Oj oj oj, hvisker treet
Og treet lar sine blader falle
Det store treet, det snille treet

Based on the sound alone, I might translate this as

Lithe lines sink under the street.
Oh, that wintry street.
Oh, street of signs like falling blades
A street of shops and smiles.

It’s not really a poem yet, but I certainly have created some odd and interesting images and ideas to play with.

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3 weeks of NapoWriMo – gone! WOW! April is running away from me briskly!

I haven’t included the participant website today as there was no link to the site. I will update this post if one appears.

I know of and have used today’s poetry resource, I remember doing this prompt in previous NaPoWriMo years. It is one I enjoy. As I mentioned on the previous translation post I enjoy language, the sound and cadence of it, whether I can speak it or not.

I sat with the prompt on my phone in the early hours of this morning so chose just one stanza to work with.

Og treet løfter himmelen med armene sine
så den ikke skal trykke henne
for tungt på brystet
Og treet bretter natten til side
så hun ikke skal bli redd

© 1992, Gro Dahle
From: Linneapasjonen
Publisher: J.W. Cappelens Forlag, Oslo, 1992

I enjoyed the repetition and chose my words from the sound of these.  As with the example, I do not feel it is a strong poem as it lies but will pull out some threads and see what I can remaster.

After a morning filled with yoga, pilates, financial stress (companies finally accessing Furlough scheme) and too many text messages I am looking forward to spending time in the garden with my notebook this afternoon.

 

Be well.

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 20

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As of today, we are 2/3 through this year’s Na/GloPoWriMo! I hope you feel rich in poems.

Today, our featured participant is Chitraksh Ashray, where the “walking archive” prompt for Day 19 resulted in the charming tale of a magical stone.

Our poetry resource for today is Commonplace, a podcast that features “conversations with poets (and other people.”)

Today, in gratitude for making it to Day 20, our prompt asks you to write a poem about a handmade or homemade gift that you have received. 

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Chitraksh’s poem reminded me of a forgotten object, a quartz stone I had as a child, half on my windowsill & half which my parents had.

I love the poetry resource, I had a quick dip in and listen and will be back to have a proper look and listen during lockdown.

I have so many handmade gifts I could write about and many that I will write over time. I created a long list of remembered and treasured gifts, I also quite enjoyed the examples given in the original prompt;

‘It could be a friendship bracelet made for you by a grade-school classmate, an itchy sweater from your Aunt Louisa, a plateful of cinnamon toast from your grandmother, a mix-tape from an old girlfriend.’

I can see myself writing around this topic for a while!

 

As of today, we are 2/3 through this year’s Na/GloPoWriMo! I hope you feel rich in poems.

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 19

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Read the full post here.

Our featured participant is My Musings Through Life, where the “small pleasures” prompt for Day 18 gives voice to the joy of flowers, time with family, tea, and hearing the birds sing.

Today’s poetry resource is a podcast from the Poetry Translation Centre. This podcast is a great way to learn more about contemporary poetry in other countries!

Today, our prompt challenges you to write a poem based on a “walking archive.”

… Go on a walk and gather up interesting thing – a flower, a strange piece of bark, a rock. This then becomes your “walking archive” – the physical instantiation of your walk.

If you’re unable to get out of the house (as many of us now are), you can create a “walking archive” by wandering around your own home and gathering knick-knacks, family photos, maybe a strange spice or kitchen gadget you never use.

One you’ve finished your gathering, lay all your materials out on  a tray table, like museum specimens. Now, let your group of materials inspire your poem! You can write about just one of the things you’ve gathered, or how all of them are all linked, or even what they say about you, who chose them and brought them together.

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I enjoyed finding the treasures in the poem. I visited the Translation Centre and decided to listen to this one https://www.poetrytranslation.org/podcasts/to-catch-butterflies-by-noshi-gillani-2 I will come back to this resource and listen to others. I have always enjoyed reading translated poetry, something about the catch of language, word usage and order. I have also heard a fair share of performances /readings in languages I do not speak, I enjoy the music, the rhythm, not quite understanding. I hear the shape of words.

I have been confined to my house and garden for a month now, so today I chose to create my trail around my house. I delighted in today’s NaPo prompt. My poem resulted in not using all the items I had gathered. I liked the idea of observing them as artefacts/ museum display this put a different flavour into the work which otherwise may not have existed.

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 18

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Today’s featured participant is soulfluff, where the “forgotten technology” prompt for Day 17 engendered an ode to typewriters.

Featured resource a PDF version of Eugene Ostashevksy’s 2008 chapbook “Enter Morris Imposternak, Pursued by Ironies.” (Click on “Read Online” to do just that).

Prompt -write an ode to life’s small pleasures. Perhaps it’s the first sip of your morning coffee. Or finding some money in the pockets of an old jacket…

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My immediate thought was -why did I struggle choosing an old tech yesterday, a typewriter… so obvious! I could definitely write the poem titled How Do You Lose a Typewriter? Will add it to the list of poems to be written!

I read the participant poem. I really enjoyed the depth in today’s poem and the style. I lingered on the blog for a bit and read other NaPo poems. I added the site to my reader and will indulge when I have a break of time to enjoy. My reading brain and writing brain struggle to exist together.

Also I know I want to spend some time reading  Eugene Ostashevksy’s 2008 chapbook, now I know what you’re thinking – it’s Saturday and you are in lockdown, you have all the time but it is the weekend which means I am not home alone, which means there is a lot more on the agenda than indulging my poetry skin.

I checked out some of the other links on the Ugly Duckling Presse page and am leaving a few here. This video is definitely something you can sit back and enjoy!

And a real treat at 45 mins – book yourself some time to come and watch this reading.

I also read the interview https://www.musicandliterature.org/features/2017/4/4/a-conversation-with-eugene-ostashevsky and made a note of the review to read after I had spent time reading the chapbook for myself. http://galatearesurrection10.blogspot.com/2008/07/enter-morris-imposternak-pursued-by.html

I used a list of small pleasures on my Positivity Project page a few days ago. I enjoy writing lists of things that bring happiness and joy, but it is a little too obvious to just write a list poem. So I am going to carry my thoughts and listen to the rain or Eugene Ostashevksy for a bit and write later.

I will be back to update this post.

 

 

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 17

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Read the full post here (although today it is pretty complete).

Our featured participant today is The Great Unknown, where Day Sixteen’s over-the-top prompt led to a poem rife with onamotapoeia, superlatives, and ebullient sarcasm.

Our resource for the day is the Poetry Foundation’s VS podcast, hosted by poets Franny Choi and Danez Smith. Every two weeks, they release a new episode in which they interview contemporary poets, and otherwise talk about what is going on in the world of poetry and beyond.

Today, I challenge you to write a poem that features forgotten technology. Maybe it’s a VCR, or a rotary phone. A cassette player or even a radio. If you’re looking for a potential example, check out this poem by Adam Clay, which takes its central metaphor from something that used to stoke fear in the hearts of kids typing term papers, or just trying to play a game of Oregon Trail.

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As always I worked through the day almost chronologically – checking The Great Unknown before listening to the resource. The poem was very full and packed with wordplay and some great lines, I also checked out some of the jewellery blog posts before re-reading and seeing the part that creativity has to play in this poem.
I am enjoying a variety of podcasts having only recently (2 weeks ago) started to listen to them. I did one today as morning meditation (to be fair it was actually a meditation podcast).

I enjoyed the podcast and wrote some notes as they chatted because you can find sparks of inspiration everywhere!

I particularly liked ‘my ugliest leggings’ and ‘cleaning the dust off the outside of my windows’… ‘what I can do is mop and sweep… clean these counters’… Danez Smith.
I think I may be the only resident in my road/ the whole of the UK who didn’t start lockdown with a massive, deep clean! I know taking inspiration from the introductory chitchat was not Maureen’s intention in sharing this poetry resource but it set my mind racing! I liked the fact they also included poetry prompts and I shall tune in to listen again.

I love the idea of writing about forgotten tech and I was more comfortable in our simpler, pre-digital times. So my initial mind map was easy to fill a page with! Sadly I still have a VCR/a camcorder/some audio cassettes and videos! Maybe I shouldn’t openly admit that.

Choosing just one will be tough. Once I had my ideas I treated myself to Adam Clay – I enjoyed the Poetry Today website too. Then I went to discover what an earth the Oregon Trail was! I remember as a child playing on the Commodore 64 (which was the PC you had in the 80s if you didn’t have Amstrad)! I played a Sherpa game a little like this one – some expedition to the North Pole – will reserve this game for later in the lockdown.

I copied some of the photographs of old tech from the suggested website and started to decide from them and my list what subject to write about. I chose old mobile phones.

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 16

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Featured participant is: MD Kerr, who provides an audio recording of her musically-inspired poem from Day Fifteen.

Our poetry resource for the day is this PDF of Aram Saroyan’s Electric Poems, first published in 1972. Saroyan is known for his minimalist poetry. Often, his poems consist of re-mixed/chopped versions of a single word. In fact, one of his most famous one-word poems engendered some controversy in the U.S. Congress!

Today’s prompt rather than encouraging minimalism, we challenge you to write a poem of over-the-top compliments. Pick a person, place, or thing you love, and praise it in the most effusive way you can. Go for broke with metaphors, similes, and more. Need a little inspiration? Perhaps you’ll find it in the lyrics of Cole Porter’s “You’re The Top.” 

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I always enjoy listening to a poet reading their own work and it was interesting to hear about MD Kerr’s synathesia as it was mentioned on an earlier NaPo prompt, Day 5 No.4 on Jim Simmerman’s list of Twenty Little Poetry Projects.

We are welcomed into her head and as thoughts, the directions of this poem change directly swiftly and is very visceral. Love that strong endline -…  a thousand little pebbles crash – it lingers. I listened to the poem several times. Beautiful work. I thoroughly enjoyed the participant poem today.

As you know, I love a free book so I was looking forward to indulging in the resource. I tend to stay clear of minimalism, choosing to have more words for my money (joke)! I love an eclipse though and the concept of this book which came from a time before I existed and must have been fairly groundbreaking work. I read it (I don’t think you can download this one) for a poet of minimalism there is a lot being said. As suggested ‘Big thoughts’. And remarkably it builds up that expectancy in the same way that witnessing the eclipse does. An enjoyable quiet, calm read.

I read up on Aram Saroyan and tried his website – which is linked on the Poetry Foundation page but doesn’t actually work. So I did a search and watched a couple of  readings instead from 2010. Interesting snippets of his life from ‘Door to the River’.

Enjoy!

 

And a poem…

Performance of “Crickets” a one-word poem by Aram Saroyan, during Other Minds Festival 23 – Sound Poetry: The Wages of Syntax. Recorded on April 9, 2018, at ODC Theater in San Francisco, CA.

I went on to read the controversy surrounding one of his one word poems. I was surprised to find out what the word was, it wasn’t the one I imagined. Far more poetic. I went in to read one of the referenced articles, from the Mother Jones Magazine, which can be found here.

I then knew I was down the NaPo Rabbit Hole – again!

And after watching ‘Crickets’ wasn’t sure I wanted to write a poem with lots of words – but I read the example resource and made a start. I decided this was another prompt that could work towards a current project so I sat down and mind-mapped. I did it on the computer as I have so many to type up now and editing is easier!

I managed a stanza and then decided that this might be the entire poem, we will see. I want to do some more reading around my subject, if not – I have created a nugget which wouldn’t exist without NaPo!

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 15

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Today marks the halfway point of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020. 

Our featured participant today is Bag of Anything, where you will find a bouquet of humorous clerihews in response to Day Fourteen’s inspirational prompt.

Today’s poetry resource is this PDF of Fred Moten’s first chapbook, Arkansas. Since publishing it in 2000, he has published numerous full-length poetry collections, including The Feel Trio, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2014. 

Our prompt takes its cue from Arkansas. Today, I’d like  to challenge you to write a poem inspired by your favorite kind of music. Try to recreate the sounds and timing of a pop ballad, a jazz improvisation, or a Bach fugue. That could mean incorporating refrains, neologisms and flights of whimsy, or repeating/inverting lines or ideas. Perhaps a good way to start is to listen to your favorite piece of music and “free-write” for the duration  of the piece, and then use what you’ve written as the building blocks for your poem.

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This year, I have been using a notebook for my NaPo scribbles, which means I have a 10 day backlog of work that needs typing up and filing, I started the catch up this morning.

I am happy with today’s prompt, I have often used music to create poetry in workshops, for projects and just at my desk. I usually work in silence so it does make an impact.

I attended a workshop with Rishi Dastidar a few years ago at Swindon Poetry Festival, it was set around his collection ‘Ticker Tape’ (2017) and we used different musical tracks // playlist to freewrite.

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I also love a NaPo chapbook resource and discovering poets and poems I do not know.

I started (as always) at the participating site. I enjoyed the poet archive of the clerihews, although it is not a form I like to write or read particularly, inspired to finish with the poet who gave us the form to begin with.

I saved the PDF for a good read post-NaPo and read up on Fred Moten. I also didn’t want to read his poems until after I had attempted the prompt. I read the review of The Feel Trio;

‘Moten keeps the music in the words. Often he’s swinging out boastful declarations like some young rap M.C. … in lines where…  he sketches out his thoughts when “on tour” a playbook of the poet on the road.’

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Then I went off to find some music to work with. I chose a track I used to listen to half a lifetime ago and it gifted me some surprising results!

 

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 14

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Today’s featured participant is Scrambled, Not Fried, where Day Thirteen’s theft-inspired prompt resulted in an ode to the joys of the illicit.

Our poetry resource for the day is “Dr. Williams’ Heiresses,” a chapbook published by Alice Notley in 1980. In it, she weaves strange and discursive creation-myth for American poetry, and her own work, as influenced by the work of the poet William Carlos Williams.

Today’s prompt, like Alice Notley, think about your own inspirations and forebears. Specifically, I challenge you today to write a poem that deals with the poems, poets, and other people who inspired you to write poems. These could be poems/poets/people that you strive to be like, or even poems, poets, and people that you strive not to be like.

 

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It’s hard to believe we are almost halfway through April, halfway through NaPoWriMo. We have reached the end of a fortnight of writing poems. How are yours looking? Some will be showing promise.

I really enjoyed today’s post, spent quite some time with the resources and exploring poets – in fact I fell so far down the rabbit hole I reloaded the site rather than using the back arrow button for a more swift return to the prompt!

As with many of the prompts this is one which does work for me and I see already that I will revisit and write from the many avenues into this prompt.

I started with Ron’s website, I had a little explore and read his poem. I enjoyed it, there was a lot of story to unpack in the scenario. Another chapbook belongs to the resources today, I read a little when I was sitting in the summer house this afternoon, it is a spectacular and intriguing read. I also read up on Alice Notley and my first attempt at the prompt (and my only so far, but I will be coming back to this one) was based on her style, having spent over an hour with her in my garden!

I actually took the rhythm of one of her poems first and then drew a thematic parallel from the title.

Once written (and I only used the first 10 lines) I let it settle for a while on the page and then changed the order of some of it and re-edited to keep the rhythmic sense of my original. So now I think there is some show of influence without any direct pastiche of her work. I may not keep the whole poem as it is, but was happy to discover several strong lines and a new to me poet.

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 13

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Participant for the day is Wiederholt Fallen, where Day 12’s triolet prompt resulted into a short-lined gem.

The poetry resource is the archives of The Found Poetry Review. During its five years of operation, this journal specialized in publishing poems that were found, rather than written. 

There’s a pithy phrase attributed to T.S. Eliot: “Good poets borrow; great poets steal.” (He actually said something a bit different. Our prompt, developed by Rachel McKibbens, who is well-known for her imaginative and inspiring prompts plays on the idea of stealing. Today, I challenge you to write a non-apology for the things you’ve stolen. 

 

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Today I have written, I have a few scratch poems baking away but I was very late reading the NaPo prompt and by the time I came to the site I had read some example poems and worked out what the prompt was. I narrowly made the post on Day 13 – I got so sidetracked with the wonderful and abundant resources that I had no idea it was close to midnight! It’s hard to think of anything I’ve stolen except hearts and time. I want to give it some thought.

I started at the beginning with the participating site. I found the site/ scroll bar didn’t load well – but the internet is a little sketchy here tonight. This frustrated me before I got to read the triolet though.

A lot of us found this prompt hard because we tend to avoid rhyme and when we come to use it as technique to us generally non-rhyming poets feel our work lacks substance or depth, that the rhyme is weakly linked. A triolet only really has 5 lines if you don’t count the repeated lines. To make sure it is a good poem those repeated lines have to be strong and this poem I DID NOT KNOW does this with the 2nd (and 8th) line… I needed birdsong. Very apt in this locked down world we are trying to survive.

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I read it over a few times before heading off to the poetry resource (which I remember discovering in the past) then I linked why – I unsuccessfully submitted for the Bowie Anthology ‘Bowietry’ they created. I enjoyed writing that sequence as much as I enjoy Bowie, so that rejection didn’t sting! Bowie of course famously used this ‘found’ method and it is one I have used and enjoyed both in workshops and at home. It is also a good way back in if you ever feel blocked.

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So then I had the NaPo diversion of staying in the FPR resources and will be revisiting for more reading – like many online and print magazines this one only lasted for 5 years, which is a shame as I have enjoyed the work they published.

I need to get back into submitting, but following my health year (bad health – but health year sounds better), I have only recently started to write like I used to and I am working on  several projects which I want to complete before I start fully focusing on something else. I should really spend some time looking for opportunities and let a few poems take flight. I am mid-promoting my recently published pamphlet but am not managing that well either. There are reviews I should be sharing and missed the annual cry out for please-vote-for-my-pamphlet Sabotage/ Saboteur Awards. It would have been worse to pressure cast on social media and not get enough support to be shortlisted. I have the feeling not enough people have read it yet to make an impact. I fully intend to make use of this new phase of our digital world to do something about this in the near future. See? NaPo tangents are major!

I then read the article Good Poets Borrow – I found Nancy Prager’s site fascinating and loved reading the evidence of what T. S Eliot actually said.

The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn;

This part stays with me, I know a fair few poets who imitate another person whilst they learn their craft. I had been writing for 5 years before I attempted a pastiche and that was because the project I was working on called for it. This is not to judge or suggest it is wrong, in life we often copy people… it just isn’t something I have done as a poet/writer. I do read a lot and sometimes I am aware that you have to read your own work closely and ensure you haven’t lifted something you have read. Most famously for me, once at a stanza meeting, more than an echo of Emily Dickinson!

Out of interest I clicked the link to Eliot but know this poet well having studied The Waste Land for A-level. Had a revision/read.

I then checked out Twitter for Rachel McKibbens. Before considering today’s prompt. I started with mind mapping ideas for things I had stolen and tried free-writing in a non-apologetic style as a starting point before writing my poem. When I searched online I found this image in the library and it reminded me of all those times when I would sneak food out of the cake cupboard as a child. I added these stealth steals to my list!

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I wrote several versions using different things I have stolen – most of them are abstract nouns but I like the idea of extending this into another persona/character and write their non-apologies for some major thefts too!

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 12

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Featured participant is Katie Staten, who provides us with a humorous twist on Day Eleven’s floriography pompt.

Our poetry resource for the day is Ours Poetica

Prompt I’d like to challenge you to write a triolet. These eight-line poems involve repeating lines and a tight rhyme scheme. The repetitions and rhymes can lend themselves to humorous poems, as well as to poems expressing dramatic or sorrowful moods. And sometimes the repetitions can be used in deceptive ways, by splitting the words in a given line into different sentences, and making subtle changes, as in this powerful triolet by Sandra McPherson.

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I enjoyed our Day 11 prompt so much that I am still working through that one, although I do have 1 complete poem and then lots of scribbled notes and pockets of research. Future threads.
And despite being incredibly late posting today – I woke early (before 6 AM) and had completed my NaPo poem (in the garden) before breakfast!
I am a reader of Katie’s blog so had seen the poem before it was selected for the participant’s site. I was drawn by the title ‘Of flowers and spies’. The second stanza was particularly striking despite her not being in a serious writing mood when she wrote it.
Sometimes I get very excited by the chosen resources – today was one of those times. I have also been looking for videos of poetry and related sessions to keep me inspired and happy during self-isolation. I will be checking back for updates. I listened to Sarah Kay reading Forest Fires.
The You Tube channel probably has all episodes if you click around but the original work seemed to be bountiful over on the Poetry Foundation site.
I read all the example poems and there are lots of them.
I had written the form before but this was a very clear explanation of it so do have a read if you are new to writing a triolet. I was out in the garden before 7 AM and sat down to write my NaPo poem. I wrote a couple of triolets, for me they don’t feel 100% settled into their form, I think the trick is choosing suitable rhyming words for the AB pattern.
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Today was the first day in a fortnight where I haven’t been attending readings and workshops in the wonderful Stay at Home Lit Festival and it felt strange not to connect to that network after relying heavily on it for a few weeks.
It was also a strange Easter, I think the only time I haven’t seen my family for Easter was when I lived too far away/ was away on holiday – it is hard having some of them within geographical reach and not being able to see them.
I did as most of us on lock-down have and used Social Media, Face time and the good old fashioned phone! I also got to spend the day with Mr G. and we just dealt with the lack of Easter.

Happy Easter! 

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