I feel incredibly guilty planning to relaunch the blog at this time as I will be writing in a way that made seem egocentric. I hope you will understand that this is, in part, a distraction technique for myself to cope and manage at this time of self-isolation. As the UK prepares for the peak of COVID-19 and we all attempt to adjust our lives to staying in and social distancing our anxieties increase.
I was working until a week ago and have been self-isolating since then, my exercise has been indoors and I have used our garden for air and sunshine. I am fortunate enough not to know anyone at this stage who has suffered complications, although people I know have probably got the virus (we don’t know because we are not testing). I know that we will go from losing jobs (my income is currently £0, despite the government putting many packages in place), I am hopeful this will change and if it doesn’t I am grateful that the universe supplied me with some full time work in the months of this outbreak in the East. So there is a small safety net. I know that we will go from this manic stress of losing our lives as we knew them, the economic worries and the fallout of another recession to come to losing loved ones.
I know that we are all in fear, things are uncertain (or certain in some cases) and we are no longer in control. We are in control of how we manage this crisis for ourselves though. Right now you should give yourself permission to feel as you do and know that it will change many times a day. It is okay to feel this way.
I am trying to offer people help in any small way I can. Having suffered clinical depression (2013) I have techniques and experience of many Mental Health aids for wellbeing, I trained as a Life Coach and I have had 12 months of ill health which meant that I was pretty much self isolated. I was certainly cut off. I started a daily positivity page on Facebook which offers a daily dip/tip for keeping your Mental Health during this period of isolation.
Please feel free to use, like and share this page.
I am witnessing many creative people helping each other and a country of artists who have now moved online, we are all learning how to use Zoom! I am seeing community (that Big Community our government used to speak about) re-emerging, I am seeing selflessness and love.
I hope you are all finding a way through this time.
Today was a day filled with the anxiety of a hospital appointment I have had to wait 6 weeks for, so I read the prompt and checked out the resources but did not have time to complete any writing. (I did spend 3 hours making new animation!) My head was not in the right frame of mind for poetry. By 10:30 PM when I came to post, our internet was down and all I could do was copy and paste on my very old mobile phone, so wasn’t sure if the links were active.
On waking (1st May) I had a little sinking feeling (like post-Christmas blues), NaPo was over and then I remembered I still had to complete yesterday’s write – and this made me happy. Then I thought about all the things I should have time to do now NaPo is over and how proud I am for having completed the challenge. This year has been easier in a way (I have done it since 2013 when I embarked on my writing life), because I am off from work and have more time than ever before, I cannot do much and it is frustrating to be so restricted. However, I can now manage desk time and no longer take the medication which drained me of creativity and consciousness… ! so, I have time to write and NaPo has eaten up daylight hours for me. It has also gifted me the opportunity of writing again, I feel well and truly quenched.
Our featured participant for the day is Summer Blues, where the meditative prompt for Day Twenty-Nine gave rise to not one, but two, wry and poignant poems.
Today’s video resource is this short film in which the artist Iris Colomb “translates” the minimalist poems of the Russian poet Eta Dahlia into gesture drawings. This is another great illustration of the way that poetry and other art forms can intersect and inspire one another. This video also shows that the rhythms and sounds of poetry can cross language boundaries, allowing a form of communication beyond the merely literal.
And last but not least, now for our final prompt for this year! Taking a leaf from our video resource, I’d like you to try your hand at a minimalist poem. A poem that is quite short, quickly/ simply capture an image or emotion. Haiku are probably the most familiar and traditional form of minimalist poetry, but there are plenty of very short poems out there that do not use the haiku form. There’s even an extreme style of minimalism in the form of one-word and other “highly compressed” poems. Think of your own poem for the day as a form of gesture drawing. Perhaps you might start from a concrete noun with a lot of sensory connotations, like “Butter” or “Sandpaper,” or “Raindrop” and – quickly, lightly – go from there.
I started by reading the poems on Summer Blues , I read them over and over. I fell in love with Natasa Bozic Grojic’s blog and had a good read around. Her featured poems are beautiful and caught my breath as I read, of course I have saved her featured poems to the resource file for today – because I don’t want to lose those words.
I was also delighted to hear how happy this year’s challenge had made her feel and how a one word poem, created a while ago, had now found that it could be credited as a poem and displayed. Poignant.
When I did NaNoWriMo – both camp and full on November challenge (back in 2013), there were these small buttons you could display (see Homepage) and despite people creating jpegs for NaPo I have never found such a thing. Here on Natasa’s website, I found she had used the annual banners to create ‘I have completed…’ buttons which is an idea I am going to Magpie, AWF needs some updating. We have both been participants since 2013.
I love her joy, reflecting on being a featured participant. Natasa’s poems were a wonderful way to step into today. It was hard to tear myself away from her website!
Before I watched the video. I played in a different (hidden) window, listening only to the language. The metre/rhythm/voice of the poem. You almost begin to understand, the repetition of the line helps and the similarity between some words.
Then I watched it properly.
Semechki (Семечки) is a series of experimental translations of Eta Dahlia’s minimalist Russian poems into gestural drawings by Iris Colomb.
The closest attempt I have made at this genre has been through teaching Wordplay in schools and back in 2015, where as part of a workshop we looked at the work of e.e cummings and emulated it. Although not strictly minimalist, my poems were by comparison to what I was writing at the time.
The article was full of great examples, I enjoyed the typography. I felt like I was back in the world of study again.
I started with a quick skip around the internet to discover minimalist poetry – examples and the history of it – although the referenced articles covered it well. I then started to think about words which have other words in them.
What I like about today’s prompt is I get to share entire poems with you. I started with highly compressed/ one word poems.
This is dark, I wrote it and then used Special Characters to change the typography (and I hope) portray the vileness/threat of the statement. Apologies for the content. Try thinking of the Wicked Witch of the West and it won’t seem so violent!
I thought smot was a made-up word which I was using like swot – (swat), I was a little horrified when I identified the Urban dictionary definition. I guess it changes the context to smoke her… which still mirrors the violence.
I don’t really like what this poem has become or the connotation of it all – but it is part of the writing process and as a starting point, I am sharing.
After this initial write, I discovered this list of words which is a good source of words inhabited in other words. So I wanted to try again and create a more suitable/shareable/less horrible poem!
Next I created this –
Which I was more happy with. I thought of Small age – as being a toddler, a youngster. I then discovered it was a plant, celery – so that is why I chose to display it vertically like a stalk.
I think the one word poems have to come to you, rather than seeking them. So I left it there to move on to composing a short form poem.
I took the concrete noun prompt ‘butter’ and wrote:
Which is satisfying. But then I got enticed by butte… which aside from being a county in Montana is also an isolated hill/mountain. So I extended the minimal and wrote these poems.
But… butter melts not like Butte, a county will not fit in my frying pan.
And then I wrote this one, which has my favourite play-on-words title of the day!
butter melts but… not butte which rises
I could play like this all day, but have spent nearly two hours online and have lots to do. I will have another play around another day.
I hope you have enjoyed NaPoWriMo as much as I have, see you next year!
What a week it has been. Let’s get growing – for sure!
This week NaPoWriMo has helped me discover new artists, poets and forms. I have written poems, created poetry film animations and read widely. This is when NaPo works best, I feel inspired and fulfilled.
I always enjoy research and many of my poems call for a lot of it. This week has been no exception to that, I spent the first part of it almost glued to the National Geographic. It was quite an animal filled week.
This week I discovered the incredible art of body painter Gesine Marwedel and the intriguing manipulation of artist Laura Christensen. I researched Seahorses, Whooping Cranes and the Smalltooth Swordfish. I discovered the latter was an endangered species and only 5 species of Swordfish still exist! I created a poetry film animation called Looking for Swordfish in Costa Rica, which I showed over the weekend at our Worcester Film Poetry Collective meeting. There may be a series of Eco Animations created on the back of this and none of it would have happened without NaPoWriMo.
I revisited the wonderful work of Marie Craven in Dictionary Illustrations, one of my favourite pieces to be shared at the Worcester Film Poetry Collective. I wrote a poem involving both a Whooping Crane and a Buick Engine Manual.
I wrote about spring and discovered the work of Jericho Brown, tried a new form of poetry, the Duplex, tore my hair out over Shakespearean sonnets and read lots of poems, articles and interviews. I feel like I have completed a study week!
This week’s poems:
Seahorse After German artist Gesine Marwedel
Looking for Swordfish in Costa Rica
North of the Equator – which I edited and then took to Stanza.
Remains – my first Duplex
There are only 2 days of NaPo left, which I cannot believe! This month of writing has passed quickly. It has been a joy to write again, my 6 months of illness has resulted in very little creativity. I am becoming again, which is good and fills me with relief.
And the two remaining days of April brought riches, on Day 29 I indulged in the referenced Meditation poetry and wrote another poem about illness.
On the final day of NaPo I had great fun with wordplay and minimalist poetry.
*Celery (which is the same poem as Cultivated with different Typography)
It has been a good year!
I have thoroughly enjoyed most days and have managed to write 40 poems, created two animated poetry films, added several blogs to my Reader and discovered lots of new-to-me poets, artists and resources.
Our featured participant for the day is Put Out To Pasture, where the “repetition” poem for Day Twenty-Six leans in, hard.
Today’s video resource is this droll tutorial that promises to teach you poetry techniques in 30 minutes. It may seem a bit silly, but there’s a lot of technical detail packed into that half hour! If you’ve always had trouble distinguishing alliteration from assonance, or understanding how the heck to “scan” a poem for metrical stress, this may help clear things up. At they very least, it will make you smile.
And now for our prompt. Our video resource for the day promises to teach you everything you need to know to write a Shakespearean sonnet, but I’m not going to ask you to do that, exactly. Instead, I’d like to challenge you to “remix” a Shakespearean sonnet. Here’s all of Shakespeare’s sonnets. You can pick a line you like and use it as the genesis for a new poem. Or make a “word bank” out of a sonnet, and try to build a new poem using the same words (or mostly the same words) as are in the poem. Or you could try to write a new poem that expresses the same idea as one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, like “hey baby, this poem will make you immortal” (Sonnet XVIII) or “I’m really bad at saying I love you but maybe if I look at you adoringly, you’ll understand what I mean” (Sonnet XXIII). If you’re feeling both silly and ambitious, you might try writing an anagram-sonnet, like K. Silem Mohammad has done here.
Once again, I read the post from bed this morning on my phone – knowing that I wouldn’t have time to act on it as today was our meeting for Worcester Poetry Film Collective and I was very excited about sharing some of the 12 animations I have made over the past month!
I did manage to read the participant site poem and have a quick panic over Shakespearean sonnets – which are hard enough without the additional challenge of remix/modernisation. I didn’t have time to tackle a half hour video as I only had an hour to get up and out.
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com
This evening I re-read Maxie Jane’s poem She Wore Armor, which was inspired by Joy Harjo’s “She Had Some Horses”, which you can find here. It wasn’t a poem I knew, but as far as repetition goes it was a perfect influence/starting point.
With Maxie’s poem I liked the fact that although this armour could be literal – it isn’t – also the amount of times in life we wear it – and to see all the listed examples and to meet some of them with a knowing hmmm, Thought provoking and intense. It was good to revisit Put Out to Pasture, one of the participating sites I chose to visit and blog about on Day 20 of NaPo.
I then set aside half an hour to watch the video resource. It was good revision and easy to follow. I liked the example villanelle and they clearly showed the rhyming scheme in a colour coded system.
I also watched the following video, which played afterwards. Some good tips – especially for people beginning to write.
Then I took a deep breath and set out to write today’s poem.
This evening, I have spent several hours making a new animation, so I am sitting down (quietly) now with NaPo to meet the challenge. Remember, if you feel this prompt is too tricky – it is optional. I am going to push through it though!
I couldn’t download the free e-book – well I could download, but not read. So I read the html online. I could have spent the night reading. Although the sonnet is not a favourite genre to write, I do enjoy reading Shakespeare. The NaPo prompt gave several ideas for staring points for today’s writing. I decided to scan the sonnets for lines and saved them on a word document. The idea of re-writing using these lines only became appealing.
At the end of 20 minutes, I had read 12 sonnets and collected 6 lines. I scrolled to the end of the book and copied an entire sonnet, Sonnet 109.
Like every sonnet I have ever written *and I can count them on just over 1 hand… I am not entirely happy with the result, although I have mastered the iambic pentameter and even found lines falling out of my head in perfect 10 syllable formation, I am not convinced by the poem. It feels forced.
I took one line from Sonnet 109 as a starting point –
Like him that travels, I return again;
My poem is called Grounded Flight. It explores my love for travel and my love, that wherever I go I cannot escape myself and how it is perhaps best to stay where I’m loved, close to home, sharing the same air.
I found this interesting post on iambic pentameter and am sharing it instead of a line from a poem I am not terribly happy with.
Not to be outdone by a poetic form, I ventured over to PAD (Poem A Day) challenge over on Writer’s Digest, where Robert Lee Brewer set the task of picking a direction as a starting point. I chose vertical and wrote a poem about illness. For now the poem is called Vertical.
Today’s featured participant is Yesterday and Today, where the seasonal/sensual prompt for Day 25 resulted in a summery villanelle.
And now for our video resource! Today, we present this recording of the poet Jericho Brown reading his poem “Duplex (I Begin With Love).” Note how simple the vocabulary of the poem is, and how Brown uses the power of repetition, rewording and building on prior lines and phrases to drive the poem along.
Today’s prompt is centered around repetition. Repetition is at the heart of the rhetorical strategy of “Duplex.” We engage with it daily in the choruses of songs, and it’s long been recognized as one of the ways to keep a listener’s attention and create a sense of satisfaction or closure in spoken or written language, whether that language takes the form of a speech or a poem or even a comedy routine. Many forms of poetry expressly require or rely on repetition – for example, the villanelle or pantoum.Well-handled repetition can give a poem an incantatory effect. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that uses repetition. You can repeat a word, or phrase. You can even repeat an image, perhaps slightly changing or enlarging it from stanza to stanza, to alter its meaning. There are (perhaps paradoxically) infinite possibilities in repetition. Want to look at some examples? Perhaps you’ll find inspiration in Joanna Klink’s “Some Feel Rain” or John Pluecker’s “So Many.”
NaPo Process Notes
I happily read today’s prompt in bed this morning, welcoming poetry in with the crack of light between my curtains. It was a pleasant waking.
I started by reading I Smell the Salt in Seaside Breeze by Merril D. Smith. This vivid poem evoked the senses of my favourite season, summer. Merril (like me) is steps ahead of the NaPo prompts, producing a villanelle on Day 25. The repetition worked well here and made me think of the pull of the waves on the ocean. I can see this poem. I think it is universally something we have all lived/felt. It is saved to the Poetry Resources file. Fine work.
I then watched Jericho Brown.
I listened to Duplex a few times. Listening to the poem and then to the form, the repetition.
The duplex is a form I invented. It’s a fusion of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues. – Jericho Brown
I know how to write a sonnet and a ghazal and have heard the blues. I am hoping to be able to unpick this form.
I then read the poem on The American Poetry Review, saved it to my resource file knowing I would be unpicking it later.
I then read the example poems, as if it wasn’t enough to discover Jericho Brown this morning, I fell in love with Joanna Klink’s Some Feel Rain. I kept reading it over and over.
Do I imagine there is any place so safe it can’t be
WOW. Breath-catching read. Joyfully saved this one to the resource file, which is jam packed for Day 26.
Lastly, (before getting up), I listened to John Pluecker’s So Many, grateful for the audio as I struggle to read a poem which has no punctuation. It was also great to hear it from the voice of the poet. Stunning moments captured in this emotive poem.
Both of these poems were great examples of the use of repetition. They also made me feel ready for writing!
I have already written one villanelle this NaPo and they are hard work, I often write pantoums but had never come across a duplex (other than an architectural term), so I fancied trying to write one and set about finding out more about this form Jericho Brown invented.
…inventing a new poetry form he calls the duplex. The new structure melds the formality of a sonnet, the inline rhyme and repetition of the ghazal, and duality of the American blues, all in nine to eleven syllables per line. It’s also the title of five poems in “The Tradition,” his third collection, published earlier this month.
I also watched Stand.
I found this article in The Rumpus which goes into the form in more detail. It is a great interview, one you should read!
GUTTING THE SONNET: A CONVERSATION WITH JERICHO BROWN
BY CANDACE WILLIAMS
The duplex is a new form that renders the musicality and structure of the ghazal, the sonnet, and the blues on a single plane. The poem starts with a couplet of two distinct lines. The second line is repeated and a new line is added, and then repeated until there are seven couplets of nine to eleven syllables each. Although the poem sounds iambic, it retains its relationship to the metrical tradition of the ghazal. The first line is the fourteenth line. The rhyme (via repetition) and the turn are reminiscent of the sonnet. The duplex holds tradition in its embrace while calling that embrace into question. This tension and release are a means for The Tradition’s speaker to interrogate and transcend their condition.
I also wondered why he had called the form Duplex and an article on Poetry Foundation helped me find the answer:
I decided to call the form a duplex because something about its repetition and its couplets made me feel like it was a house with two addresses. It is, indeed, a mutt of a form as so many of us in this nation are only now empowered to live fully in all of our identities.
I also found out more about the form and read more examples of Duplex poems.
Starting at the fourth line, every other line of the poem aims at “incongruous humor that…becomes ironic laughter mixed with tears.” The blues allowed for a poem that we teachers like to describe as “voice-y,” which is to say that the poems begin to take on more personality in those moments.
The end of the article gifted me the gold dust I had searching for. The form.
Write a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem of 14 lines,
giving each line 9 to 11 syllables.
The first line is echoed in the last line.
The second line of the poem should change our impression of the first line in an unexpected way.
The second line is echoed and becomes the third line.
The fourth line of the poem should change our impression of the third line in an unexpected way.
This continues until the penultimate line becomes the first line of the couplet that leads to the final (and first) line.
For the variations of repeated lines, it is useful to think of the a a’ b scheme of the blues form.
Armed with a little more information I decided to have a go – and if I fail on the form then I have a poem which would not otherwise have existed in a parallel coat. Nothing will be lost. My ego will declare that I have invented a new form, the not-quite-a-duplex-poem. A Du. I am excited to give it a go.
I managed to write a Duplex, unfortunately the battery died on the laptop halfway through the composition, so the 2nd half of the write was harder than it could have been, having lost the flow and the construction of the poem during my time offline.
I don’t think I changed the impression hard enough within the couplets. I got there though. Phew. It is an interesting result and is definitely a form I will attempt again.
I called it Remains which has layered meaning in the poem and think that the sense of the poem overall is beautiful. I think that is down to the Duplex/Blues rhythm and repetition. It is a love poem and this is how it ends…
A new tale on your chest tells of us. Open to love, I’m weightless in my baggage.
Today’s featured participant is Zouxzoux, where the animal-themed prompt for Day Twenty-Three resulted in a zippy haiku.
Our video resource for the day is this rather charming film by Marie Craven, based on Sarah Sloat’s poem “Dictionary Illustrations.”
Today’s prompt is to write a poem that, like “Dictionary Illustrations,” is inspired by a reference book. Locate a dictionary, thesaurus, or encyclopedia, open it at random, and consider the two pages in front of you to be your inspirational playground for the day. Maybe a strange word will catch your eye, or perhaps the mishmash of information will provide you with the germ of a poem. For what it’s worth, my 1961 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 11, has just informed me that despite “his beauty,” the “profligacy” of the Emperor Heliogabalus’s life “was such as to shock even the Roman public,” while also presenting me with a lovely little line drawing of a variant of heliotrope, the flowers of which are said to smell like cherry pie.
I sat in bed this morning and read the NaPo page and followed the links.
Reading the enjoyable cat Haiku by Charlotte Hamrick, I had a thought to use short form for Day 23 too. I still owe a poem. Yesterday I spent time researching the swordfish and discovering it is now an endangered species shocked me. I had hoped to write a poem, but I ran out of time to do so. I had medical appointments.
I was delighted to see the film resource today as it was one we have watched at the Worcester Poetry Film Collective. It is a beautiful piece of work.
Dictionary Illustrations by Marie Craven won this last edition of O’Bheal International Poetry-Film Competition.
As far as books go for the prompt today, although I have them, they are packed away in boxes – so my online search began.
What I actually found was a website with lots of free books, so my current novel (I have read 2 books since I mentioned novels in NaPo posts), found itself strewn on Mr. G’s pillows and I was hooked.
This is the danger with internet research.
My first port of call was to find the base material to be used in today’s writing. I love the idea of mashing contrasting information together and the difficulty with using online reference books is you don’t necessarily get that double page spread.
I loved discovering how many encyclopedias of things there are, my favourite – The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasure. I spent some time copying reference information and searching for images of book pages before I harvested facts on the Whooping Crane and the Buick Engine (a wonderful old manual page). I tried to combine the migration habits of the crane with some mechanical descriptors. I used short form stanzas and although not 100% satisfied at the result have 7 pages of notes to work with post- Napo.
My poem is called Buick Bird, I can securely say it would not exist without NaPoWriMo. It has 4 stanzas, here’s a snippet.
Today’s featured participant is What Rhymes With Stanza?, where the surrealist prompt for Day 21 led to a strange tale in the key of C Sharp Major.
Our video resource for the day is this short film that features the poet and artist Kate Greenstreet reading an autobiographical piece, juxtaposed with images of Greenstreet at work on both her art and her poetry, which intermix with one another, as you’ll see.
As our film for the day shows, art and poetry can richly affect one another. Frank O’Hara’s poem, “Why I am Not a Painter,” speaks to this mutual engagement, as do explicitly ekphrastic poems (i.e., poems that are about a specific work of art), like Thom Gunn’s “In Santa Maria del Popolo.” Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that engages with another art form – it might be about a friend of yours who paints or sculpts, your high school struggles with learning to play the French horn, or a wonderful painting, film, or piece of music you’ve experienced – anything is in bounds here, so long as it uses the poem to express something about another form of art.
I started by reading Jackals in the Key of C-Sharp Major by Maggie C. Love the title! I liked the surrealism she captured.
Then I watched the short film. ACT and read “Why I am Not a Painter” by Frank O’Hara and “In Santa Maria del Popolo” by Thom Gunn.
I like that today’s challenge is to write a poem that engages with another art form, especially as I wrote an ekphrastic poem only yesterday. With this in mind I am stretching the artistic wings of finding more than an artwork to write from today.
Searching for art…
a list brings up Aboriginal Art (alphabetically). I looked at Aboriginal Rock Artsome of which are believed to date back to the early phase of the Upper Paleolithic (c.30,000 BCE)!
Last week 4 of my NaPo poems were Australia-centric, so I fancied a change.
From possibly the oldest sort of art, I looked at face painting, not just tribal, but performance artists & photography, I ended up looking at body painting. Back in my university days I was involved in a post-grad project which involved body painting. I haven’t thought about it since (decades), I felt this was the perfect place to start today and something a little usual.
Body painting research led me to the beautiful work of German artist Gesine Marwedel. She specializes in creating beautiful and elegant body paintings that transforms people into plants, animals, or even abstract works of art.
I chose her image of a Seahorse and underwent some research, certain facts I already knew, such as the male gives birth (only species in the world where this is the case), that they mate for life, that they can change colour… but I learnt a lot this morning and even watched the birthing of 2000 fry. WOW!
I limited my research to National Geographic and the Seahorse Trust (who have a visually stunning website), I had to limit myself or I would have been plugged into the PC staring at Seahorses all day! I think, post-NaPo there will be more poems which come from today’s fact harvesting. Fascinating.
My challenge was to balance the art back in. Inspired by today’s video I wanted the artist to feature in my poem as well as the pregnant model and an actual Seahorse. Tall order!
My 10 stanza poem is called Seahorse and focuses on the actual creature, the model and the artist.
The artist brushes for hours, believes in the therapeutic qualities of body painting, the act of taking the human out from themselves.
We have two featured participants for today, because I just couldn’t choose! First up is Wind Rush, where the spoken language prompt for Day Twenty resulted in an ode to a family vacation. Next up is Xanku, where the same prompt led to a familiar, yet ethereal, set of directions.
Today’s video resource is a full-length movie, called The Color of Pomegranates. It was made in Armenia in 1969, and is a lengthy, surrealist mediation on the life of Sayat Nova, an Armenian poet who lived in the 1700s. Frankly, I’d encourage you just to flip around in the video, as it has lots of extremely arresting imagery, the very oddness of which you may find inspiring. Like poems themselves, this film juxtaposes things that one might not usually find together. There’s a church full of sheep! There’s women wearing crowns of oak leaves and roses while children dressed as odd, one-winged angels run around! There’s a roof filled with books, the pages of which flap in the wind!
Today’s prompt takes its inspiration from another surrealist work, Federico Garcia Lorca’s poem “City that Does Not Sleep.” Lorca took much of his inspiration from Spanish folklore, but also wrote a group of harrowing poems based on time he spent in New York. (Lorca was not a fan of the Big Apple). “City That Does Not Sleep” is from that collection. Subtitled “Brooklyn Bridge Nocturne” in the original Spanish, it presents a kaleidoscopic, hallucinatory vision of the city as a wild countryside roamed by animals. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that, like The Color of Pomegranates and “City That Does Not Sleep,” incorporates wild, surreal images. Try to play around with writing that doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic.
I looked at various works and planned to write ekphrastic poetry with the prompt in mind – incorporates wild, surreal images. Try to play around with writing that doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic.
After gentle research, I discovered the chrome based surrealism of Shame Gehlert. I used one of his pieces as a starting point. You can find many of his works here.
My finished poem is called Fiveshore, (a play on Foreshore and the number of stanzas created). I freewrote the poem and then pared it down. The end result (the full poem) is fairly surreal. Here’s a taste…
The fish in the cart dreams of legs, the donkey — of a rest, or the road to Jerusalem.
Welcome back, everyone, for Day Twenty of Na/GloPoWriMo! We’re now 2/3 of the way through.
Our featured participant for the day is heartinthematter, where the abecedarian poem for Day 19 is a jaunty whirlwind of words that are fun to say.
Today’s video resource is this short movie from the National Film Board of Canada, presenting animated interpretations of four poems by Canadian poets.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that “talks.” What does that mean? Well, take a look at this poem by Diane Seuss. While it isn’t a monologue, it’s largely based in spoken language, interspersed with the speaker/narrator’s own responses and thoughts. Try to write a poem grounded in language as it is spoken – not necessarily the grand, dramatic speech of a monologue or play, but the messy, fractured, slangy way people speak in real life. You might incorporate overheard speech or a turn of phrase you heard once that stood out to you – the idea here is to get away from formally “poetic” speech and into the way language tends to work out loud.
NaPo Process Notes
As I wrote my abecedarian poem yesterday, or more accurately did battle… I was thinking about which words other poets would choose, especially for X and Z. So I was interested to check out not only the featured participant but also a few others. I had a LARGE morning coffee and plenty of time to read. It is good to support each other through NaPo.
Smiti Mittal wrote ‘Zing’ a true abecedarian poem, 26 words through from a to z. This method makes for some lines that you would not necessarily put together, the version I used (a new letter to start each line) also leaves endlines which would usually be constructed differently. This is one of the beauties of this form. Smiti Mittal has done well to keep the sense of the poem and there is (political) passion bursting through her word choices.
I then went on to watching the film resource. I love the fact that the NFB film is from 1977. I tend to only watch contemporary works so it is interesting to discover older films. I have seen a few of course. There are also other films shown at the bottom of the webpage that I will explore post NaPo. Great resource!
This short film brings together animated interpretations of four poems by great Canadian wordsmiths: “Riverdale Lion” by John Robert Colombo, “A Kite Is a Victim” by Leonard Cohen, “Klaxon” by James Reaney and George Johnston’s “The Bulge.”
Watching was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
I then read [On what day you think Jesus was actually born he asks] by Diane Seuss.
I decided to look in my notebook for any overheard conversation I have noted down as a starting point for my conversational poem. I didn’t find a fruitful thread, so I thought back to Day 17, when I discovered the story of Denis Cox and decided to write something that could join the sequence of planned post-NaPo poems.
I enjoyed writing today’s poem and the process was a LOT quicker than yesterday.
I know that Denis was one of 4 kids, so it was an imagined scene where he was writing out that famous letter and his brother was watching, hovering, waiting to go and play in the creek, something they definitely used to do. It is conversational and unlike my normal style. The genre lends itself to longer lines. I am fairly happy with the result. I discovered the impetus for writing this lost postcard came after seeing Sputnik so I called it After Sputnik.
Here’s a snippet:
Standing there won’t make me any quicker. I am not going to rush this, it is too important. Top Scientist at Woomera Rocket Ranch, important.
Our featured participant for the day is Experience Writing, where the elegy prompt for Day Eighteen gave rise to a poem in which a chance encounter with a bee turns into the sudden recollection of recent grief.
As we wind up the work-week, our featured video resource for the day is this short interview with the poet Ada Limón, discussing poetry’s ability to offer us “radical hope.” That sounds like a good note on which to start a weekend!
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write an abecedarian poem – a poem in which the word choice follows the words/order of the alphabet. You could write a very strict abecedarian poem, in which there are twenty-six words in alphabetical order, or you could write one in which each line begins with a word that follows the order of the alphabet. This is a prompt that lends itself well to a certain playfulness. Need some examples? Try this poem by Jessica Greenbaum, this one by Howard Nemerov or this one by John Bosworth.
I started with the participant’s site, where the NaPo prompt and WD prompt had been fused. P is for perfidy- Poem: Little Bee a poem by Maria L. Berg. Aside from feeling insanely jealous over a Masterclass with Billy Collins & Marie Howe… I read the poem and explored Maria’s site a little, I added it to my Reader for post NaPo exploration.
Maria’s elegy focuses on the bee, so that when death comes into recall it hits harder. I liked the idea that the subject was not there at the funeral, but in a boat on a lake, using verbs associated with the bee to describe grief was clever. I also admired the incredibly short, clipped lines.
Then I watched the video/interview with Ada Limón. A poet’s take on looking to language for ‘radical hope’. It was a good watch and the PBS link includes a transcript (which of course I have saved in my NaPo document).
Poetry isn’t a place of answers and easy solutions. It’s a place where we can admit to an unknowing, own our private despair, and still, sometimes, practice beauty.
Poetry makes its music from specificity and empathy. It speaks to the whole complex notion of what it means to be human.
In fact I feel some of Ada’s points are so necessary than I encourage you to share this link, widely.
I then looked at the examples for today’s playful challenge of creating an abecedarian poem. Which I also copied into the resource file.
A Poem for S. By Jessica Greenbaum, A Primer of the Daily Round by Howard Nemerov and A Boy Can Wear a Dress by John Bosworth and having filled up on poetry I went off to write.
The thing about spending years writing is that often a prompt will not bring a new discovery, I have already written abecedarian poetry. However, not for a long time and not after feasting on the NaPo resources given to us today and I do like the variations you can try.
The tricky letters are X and Z, so my first step was an online dictionary search to pinpoint two goodies and avoid the use of xylophone, x-ray, zebra, zoo, zero or zealous! Although I did love Jessica Greenbaum’s poem, in which she used x-ray.
There are thousands of words beginning with X, you just need to seek them. In the playfulness of this genre I found myself listening to the sound of words and choosing that way. I had an idea to choose all 26 words first and then write them into a poem, but ideally I want a more organic experience. I liked the use of vocabulary in Maria L. Berg’s poem and I fancy pushing the boat out on this one myself.
Funnily enough my current novel read is set in a Bookshop and the central character has a fascination for language and discovering words.
To begin with I had no idea what I would write about, didn’t consider the subject or worry about not having one, knew it would come from the first word chosen, which was Abandon. I wrote about Australia – the feelings of travelling there alone, it had been 12 years since my previous visit, I didn’t expect to have the opportunity to go again so soon. My passport had been due for renewal for 4 years. I was at origin, quite unprepared.
Revisiting this time felt comfortable, enjoyable. Things started to spark in my mind. I enjoyed considering the alphabetic start words and knowing the order of things to come. Wondering sometimes how I could twist it into the next line. Engineered poetry is fun to play with sometimes. It is a time consuming method of writing though and I wasn’t 100% happy with the result. There are places where the needle sticks on this poem and the reader notices the form. I want to embed the ideas and know that to write a great (or even good) abecedarian poem takes some mastering.
The other thing about NaPoWriMo is NEVER let your inner editor find voice. So on this hot day, I threw ice-cubes down her back and sent her packing!
By the time I had reached M I was tiring from writing lines, so changed tack and collected my start words for each letter, then went back to M and wrote the lines out.
Of course, by the time I reached x, y, z the words I had chosen at the start, no longer fitted.
In the end I enjoyed tackling this prompt (there was mounting frustration between Q – W), now I’m fairly happy with the result. My poem is called True Blue, here is a snippet.
yearning for familiar, you ziplock your treasures, keep them safe.