Read the full post here.
As of today we are two-thirds of the way through Na/GloPoWriMo 2022.
Today’s featured participants… in response to Day 19’s “command” prompt, Jessica McWhirt brings us a tough but tender elegy, while Elizabeth Burnham provides us with a meditation on the role of the poet.
Our featured online journal for today is Diode. In their newest issue, I’ll point you to Heidi Seaborn’s poem “upon seeing an elephant seal in front of my house in West Seattle” and Michael Robins’ “If One Has a Mind That Way.”
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that anthropomorphizes a kind of food. It could be a favorite food of yours, or maybe one you feel conflicted about.
After reading Day 20 all I can think about is cake! It took a while to reset my brain to poetry! Although…
Cake + Poetry = the perfect combination!
© (Top) Ana Tavares, Deva Williamson, (Base) Natalie Chaney, Ulysse Pointcheval
Yesterday, I actually had some time to spare and read lots of poems other people had written for Day 19, so when I discovered today’s poem was the incredible Grandma by Jessica McWhirt, I was thrilled. Jessica’s poems was one I read yesterday which is still sitting inside me. Stunning, succinct work. And that ending! WOW!
Then I read The Poet is a Mirror by Elizabeth Burnham, which felt like a kaleidoscope experience as you read it, as the imagery twists and turns over multiple versions of the same truth.
locking herself in a round white room where her black-ink words and her blue-ink words and her red-ink words all ripple and roll from floor to ceiling til the once-blank walls are smothered in kaleidoscopic thought.
I then read the poems from Diode. Heidi Seaborn’s poem “upon seeing an elephant seal in front of my house in West Seattle” – it reminded me of whales in the Thames, a surreal incident, a cracking poem.
Your torso turned, long as a drift boat, … Your bark breaking my perfect line.
I read Data too, which I very much enjoyed. Clever. Then I read Michael Robins’ “If One Has a Mind That Way.” I have enjoyed these short prose poems, Michael had me at his opening line (because of the use of little);
The sun each morning burns its little weight.
Some flower paints the tongue or returns the name of the one you loved.
The opposite of a promise fills the air,
I read Letters from Portland too.
Diode is on the list of journals to go back and read when I get a chance to. These past few days have been busy offline and today I am squeezing in a workshop, a meeting and an event online too.
I felt today like I’d rather keep reading poetry than write it and then I scrolled up and saw/remembered the cake – so grabbed a coffee and dived in!
Starting with a list of favourite foods… now which one was I going to anthropomorphize? I couldn’t release my brain from shackles of cake, so I found this website and set about choosing which cake! And there in the very first picture was my answer!
When we were born my parents planted a tree for each of us in the garden, mine was a plum tree and most years it yielded a hefty crop for us (and our neighbours). We’d have a freezer full of plums throughout the year and make all sorts of scrumptious delights but never a Plum Cake. So there’s the basis for today’s poem.
Today, I am gifting the whole poem again. I have to credit the title to this wonderful site I found.
The Value of Patience
We were one of the first fruits you humans
domesticated. I don’t know of the wild days,
there were no relatives old enough to pass
those stories forward. You feasted on my ancestors,
sucked them to the stone. You baked – they watched
you through the kitchen window with your mum.
My family tree is a long line of crumble,
did you never think of cake?
Perhaps your parents thought plum too rich
for your young palette. Not one Christmas
did we adorn that table, not even the year
you were joined by fourteen relatives.
And all those who fell in action, left to rot
on patio stones the colour of Battenburg.
See? Your life was cake. We can never deny
our roots, the strands of us. The core remains
forever. I know you still feel the stone in yours.
Do you wonder how different it could have been,
if only you’d baked a cake with us? Until today,
you’ve probably not given it a thought.
You’d pick us every summer, marvel at our wax bloom,
eat several fruits before you made it back inside,
you’d carry a bowl of firm, juicy ovals carefully
to the tap, wash us and pat us dry. You were smiling,
happy. Innocent, ready. You still feel like a child today,
but not a joyful one. If you must dwell in the past,
find the pleasant lines, protect your future self with them.
And eat prunes, your future-future self will thank you.