Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a cento. This is a poem that is made up of lines taken from other poems. If you’d like to dig into an in-depth example, here’s John Ashbery’s cento “The Dong with the Luminous Nose,” and here it is again, fully annotated to show where every line originated.
For the first time, we have a trio of featured participants, as there were so many wonderful responses to Day 28’s “concrete” poem prompt! First up, here’s Alice Whitehead‘s lovely pear-shaped poem. Next, Joy Wright‘s criss-crossing, repeating poem about a bandstand, and last but not least, flippedserendipity‘s wavy ocean poem.
PROMPT: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in which you muse on the gifts you received at birth — whether they are actual presents, like a teddy bear, or talents – like a good singing voice – or circumstances – like a kind older brother, as well as a “curse” you’ve lived with (your grandmother’s insistence on giving you a new and completely creepy porcelain doll for every birthday, a bad singing voice, etc.).
The penultimate day of NaPoWriMo 2022 and I started with a much needed catch up. You will see the last 3 days have been added to and now I am ready for poem 29.
Alice Whitehead‘s Pear-shaped poems is gorgeous, it is posted on an open FB group (which is already in the public domain), so I hope to share it here for you to read again.
Joy Wright‘s Bandstand poem is equally brilliant and great fun to read. I gained permission from the poet to use this image because you can’t discuss concrete poems without seeing them. With thanks to you both.
And finally I read Flippedserendipity‘s sea poem – Waves of the Ocean, which was incredibly visual and seemed to pull in and out like waves of the sea.
In wave after wave, carving the sand
Then I headed over to On the Seawall and read My Lost Generation by Barbara Daniels. I loved the playfulness of this poem, which is actually covers some serious topics.
Mary Lou took off after Mai Tais went out.
Without leis, rattan, and almond syrup, she lost
her desire to live.
The market bottomed, so Winslow
relocated to a treehouse. Each day he wheels up
bagels and cream cheese and dumps his trash
on the lawn.
The last onionskin, Wite-Out,
and carbon paper led to the last of Miss Rossiter,
said to be reading palms in LA.
I then read Fool Reversed / Let Go by Melissa Eleftherion. A brilliant contemplation and I adore the conclusion!
Both these poems are exceptional and I look forward to reading more in On the Seawall journal soon.
Just wanted to remind myself of the prompt after getting lost (in a great way) with all that poetry reading! I will gather my thoughts and write them out in a bit.
It is (another Bank Holiday weekend in the UK) and I have pushed out 3 Napo poems today on catch up mode. Spent some time with Mr G. after work and went to class. Where I spent another while writing, so coming back to re-read the prompt and have decided I will dabble tomorrow after work.
I am behind by 2 days so will look into this prompt and poems tomorrow. I want to write my missing days first.
One day later…
I read Adapting, by Smitha V. The poet felt the Duplex was an effective form for this telling and so do I.
It's meeting the old and the pain resurfacing, that scares me. Old memories scare me and the pain, the past brings with it.
I'm used to forgetting and being forgotten. Forgetting and being forgotten takes time to get used to
And Karen Morris even managed to rhyme her Duplex! Kudos. The poem is on FB so I had to take care of rabbit holes.
(Like full-time work’s not chore enough),
Shelves to dust and floors to buff.
Many of us have probably written about the memory of water (I know I have).
Memory with Water
who carries a pair of Neptunes in her eyes
Gravity is when the psychiatrist assessed you & located a heart that is heavy for no reason.
like a remembrance possessed by echoes
This poem was superb. So much backwater (no pun intended) story and a drive that flowed like rapid water.
I Received a Bitter Email from a Good-Hearted Man
John Wall Barger
John Wall Barger had me from the start. Wow! And the resolution of the piece is blessed. If only we could all find such peace and certainty when friendships fail.
So twenty years of friendship ended in a small gesture like a door sliding shut,
How blessed I was, it didn’t seem real, like a gardener who keeps finding seeds in the creases of his clothes,
Well aware of concrete poems (shape poems), have taught them on the curriculum for decades and occasionally enjoy writing one. I read the example poems anyway. Love all the reading you get to do with Napowrimo.
I thoroughly enjoyed May Swenson‘s, Women and to think it was published in 1978! Wow. And the content of George Starbuck‘s, Sonnet in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree was certainly different to other concrete Christmas tree poems I have read! And a Sonnet to boot! I struggle to write them without creating a shape on top.
I have no idea of a starting point and I know shape poems can be digitally challenging, but I am in catch up mode and ready to dive in!
Cheesy as it is – I went for the ‘shape of love’ and of course, contoured a heart. Although it currently looks like a map of Australia with the basic prog. I am running!
While the poems may have seemed difficult to write, the responses to Day 27’s “homeric similes” prompt were really quite amazing. Featured: First up, we have Vixie’s Stories, second, we have Poetry by Hasen.
PROMPT: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “duplex.” A “duplex” is a variation on the sonnet, developed by the poet Jericho Brown. Here’s one of his first “Duplex” poems, and here is a duplex written by the poet I.S. Jones. Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line of the poem is the same as the first.
And what is it I say? You have to love a Duplex!
Flash of orange by Vickie Johnstone was a wonderful poem.
blazed his way through the carriage like an orangutan swinging between branches, looking for the swiftest route through the fervent foliage and busyness of leaves.
Winter Snow Barges by N. K. Hasen
the cars now under Frozen mounds over eight inches high of snow, Trapped like ancient shells in a block of ice.
I look forward to reading Wood Cat Review properly. Today I read the suggested poems.
William Doreski’sToads in Early Spring
A cracking opening.
At mid-day, huge slobbery toads
slug up through the melting snow.
I collect them like truffles
And despite using language like slobbery/slug up/ there is beauty in this, perhaps from the truffles. It is a beautiful poem.
Christian Ward’s The Judges of Wandle River
Again, an incredible opening:
A drizzle of midges
The wedding dress of a white
shopping bag suspended
above the river
threaded with comparisons in judgement. Great poem. I read it many times.
Duplex – I think the 2nd or maybe the 3rd one written during this year’s Napo – will have to check document. In a similar position to yesterday having just spent an hour in poetry, we now have all those life tasks to do before work tomorrow. So I am carrying my duplex around in my head and will catch up with myself on Friday.
I have just written a poem which feels important to me so I may use that as a basis and see what happens when it emerges as a Duplex.
Two days later…
I know Jericho’s poem well. In case you don’t here is the man himself telling it because you have to hear it in his voice for the full read. I know I have posted it before on this site.
And I.S Jones‘ poem, Self-Portrait as Etioly is similarly powerful. You can listen to the poem on the link above.
I am a spell of six letters. I have a name that begins and ends countries.
I set about working on my own Duplex.
Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines.
Seven, two-line stanzas.
The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza.
the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza.
The last line of the poem is the same as the first.
This description (from the Napo prompt) and the example poem from I.S Jones are different to other Duplex poems I have read in the variation on words in the repeated lines. So I will do the same today.
And as with all Duplex structures extracting a line or two doesn’t have the same affect. However. this poem has legs and I want to do something with it. So today I leave just one line which explains what the entire Duplex is about. A magical moment caught on camera. Written about in a class earlier this week when we were asked to think of an ordinary miracle moment.
Prompt: A couple of days ago, we played around with hard-boiled similes. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that contains at least one of a different kind of simile – an epic simile. Also known as Homeric similes, these are basically extended similes that develop over multiple lines. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they have mainly been used in epic poems, typically as decorative elements that emphasize the dramatic nature of the subject (example from Milton’s Paradise Lost).
But you could write a complete poem that is just one lengthy, epic simile, relying on the surprising comparison of unlike things to carry the poem across.
I read Gospel of Rain by Krissy Mosley and watched her poetry film of the piece.
she smelled familiar like I knew her,
rain has descendants –
I then had a class online and somehow when I came back to take up my place, I read another poem by Amita Paul (who was featured on Day 25). It is because the link to today’s poem is in the discussion on Day 25 – mystery solved. It meant I read an extra poem today.
I read Maa by Amita Paul. It is a difficult subject. A strong woman to come to a dream.
Tell them , my Child ! , “ she answered , “ to look up
From their business of manufactured angst
And take a hard clear look at real life
And at the World which they say they will conquer
And see how they are fooled by the false praise
I then today’s 2nd featured poem “Verdant Devi Divine” by Arti Jain.
A beautiful exploration of garden and spirit.
She holds, like all my creatures, the fragrances, the essences of the first— the first kiss on Earth.
I am coming to the day late (after work) and the prompt looks fairly epic… so I read the selected poems from Longleaf Review.
A Bride for a Flood
by Sara Elkamel
As you all know I love a duplex and the work of Jericho Brown so I was excited to read this. I read it a few times.
Like prayers into a white lotus corset.
Not Bruise, Not Eggplant
by Jad Josey
A striking poem which encapsulates urgency.
like a bird waking from a dream of silver-edged clouds … to find its feathers vanished —
Later you are making tea, water rumbling over flame, and the gloaming is too loud, too quiet,
Honestly I want to say – forget it, I will do it tomorrow! But this year I have managed not to fall behind and I don’t intend to start now, 4 days from the finish line! So I re-read the prompt and got writing.
The first example (from the linked definition) is useful if you are unsure;
Tired head stretched for ideas notebook to find a starting point and in had to face the truth that I still have jobs to do before bed and whatever I write right in this minute wouldn’t be anything good. So I am banking this, sleeping on it.
3 Days Later
I finally have some catch up time carved out. I decided on ‘nature’ as a starting theme to explore Homeric similes. Many of the example poems which use this technique are archaic and I needed to step back to get the thou and thus out of my mind. Needless to say my poem is a contemporary take. I am already looking forwarding to reading deeper the featured participant poems from this prompt.
The sky is blue and my pen is ready…
and the rabbit hole open wide! I watched incredible videos of real places in our world which are awe inspiringly unique, I watched relaxing nature videos showing some of the flora and fauna from this island. I watched several click-caught videos on unique people and natural phenomenon that no scientist can explain. Then I gave myself a talking to (I have lots to do today) and plumped on native plants – choosing as my focus ‘Golden Shield Fern’, which is a common sight in UK Woodlands.
My poem came out as a prose block and based on the weaving of multiple connected strands I think I have managed homeric similes, whether the poem is any good or not, is another story! This extract is most of a stanza after I played around with the format.
I wonder if I’d wear green, something like a jungle outfit seen on Sunday morning black and white episodes of Tarzan, a misty memory of sharing them with Dad.