Day Four Click here to read the full post
Today’s featured participant is The Silver Cow Creamer, where the personal universal deck prompt brought about a poem that not just musicians can love.
…our daily optional prompt. Poetry often takes us to strange places – to feelings and actions that are hard to express except through the medium of a poem. To the “liminal,” in other words – a place or sensation that exists at or on both sides of a boundary or threshold, neither one thing or the other, but something betwixt and between.
In honor of the always-becoming nature of poetry, I challenge you today to select a photograph from the perpetually disconcerting @SpaceLiminalBot, and write a poem inspired by one of these odd, in-transition spaces. No matter what neglected or eerie space you choose, I hope its oddness tugs at the place in your mind and heart where poems are made.
Last night I spent some time looking around participating sites and reading a selection of NaPo poems.
I really admire a lot of Ocean Vuong’s poetry. I also spent time, about 6 years ago, writing about abandoned places and watching hours worth of urban explorer videos. So after reading NaPo today I was excited to get stuck in. Starting, as always with the featured participant. <Read the full poem here.
The thing I found most powerful about this poem, was knowing the starting point was 6 words from the universal deck, you can’t see them in the poem, this is probably a poem which wouldn’t exist in this form without the original prompt and it is so beautifully nostalgic & encompasses so much story;
‘Of course, you always mispronounced it presto
The Piano teacher in you often forgot
Mumbai and you became Italian – Presto
Mezzo forte, Cantabile, Più mosso…‘
Does the sight of an orange take you back?
To Twinkle, twinkle little star variation
And John Thompson for beginners…
How you curved my palms over an orange
Under the canopy of your fingers
And taught me how to curve my fingers
Properly over a slightly out-of-tune Steinway…
I admire the specificity – the Steinway being slightly out-of-tune and the musician in me is sold on this piece for that connection alone. The familiarity of the learning. The memory of life as a pianist, as a musician’s daughter, as a collector of ‘For Beginners’. Of his story, of mine. The tenderness in this poem makes it obvious that this is also relationship. A connection of spirit.
Time, season, age, teacher, student, forgotten cities
delayed trains and a million other words
I then watched the reading for the day. It is nearly an hour but treat yourself, you won’t be disappointed and if for some reason you have not yet discovered Ocean Vuong – get ready, take a deep breath – you will need it!
The School of Liberal Arts/ FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) have certainly had some incredible poets visit the faculty over the years. This is a stunning and insightful reading.
Poet and essayist Ocean Vuong was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in 1988 and immigrated to the United States in 1990, is the author of the best-selling book Night Sky with Exit Wounds, which won the 2016 Whiting Award.
A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, he has received honors from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize.
Vuong’s writings have been featured in The Atlantic, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinkers, alongside Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon and Warsan Shire, Ocean was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered, PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, The New Yorker, and VICE.
From the Q&A: “The need to articulate becomes stronger than the fear.” / “Language as technology…”/ “we do not live in primary colours” (talking about the limit of language)/ “I’m trying to preserve us… a poet writing out of violence… a moment of creation …. and preservation. If I don’t write about this, you will be gone.”
If you enjoyed this I would encourage you to also check out The Strand Bookstore video where Ocean Vuong discusses his highly anticipated, critically acclaimed debut novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press, 2019).
Then onto the prompt.
I really enjoyed the Napo resources last year introducing me to twitter bots and have used them on occasion since. I spent a L O N G time looking through the images of liminal spaces. If you don’t have time the full post offers 3 options, but it is worth a dip if you can because I found at least 10 images that really spoke to me.
There is something of the liminal involved in a handful of images being from Game world or fake alongside those of real spaces.
I chose to write about the 8th space which is the pool with stairs leading to REALITY. Caught by REALITY being the inside space, man-made and seemingly leading to nowhere, contrast the fact that you get to REALITY up a flight of stone steps, a part of the world/image where the bright colours have been lost. I sat with the image for a while.
Extract from Margin
A case of not wanting to believe
what we already know.
Today’s prompt was an enjoyable one which left me feeling totally immersed.