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!
Today’s prompt is based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.
I enjoyed the fun of Jacqui Dempsey-Cohen’s poem, although it was Facebook – so I had to resist all temptation to catch up on there! Some of my favourite examples:
I enjoyed the scene described in Amita Paul’s poem and felt incredibly sorry for the grandmother. A very translatable scene! I have a dear memory of our own Great Aunty being wrapped up in curly chord by a then three year old great-great nephew! She was golden, just sat there and let the play happen!
while some of her progeny’s progeny and their progeny
tumble all over her in an excess of affection and youthful exuberance.
I know Okay Donkey and have them listed to submit to. I am very good at letting deadlines whoosh past and since March haven’t submitted anywhere due to life intervening the way it does and the places it leaves us in.
Old Man in the Kitchen by Audrey Hall, a poem which moved me, especially as the last one reminded me of a relative we have recently lost. The passing is heroic and Biblical, the relationship explored so succinctly.
Take the soggy reins dangling from your veiny hands away from Sunday breakfast. I do not need you to split this egg on the pan’s edge or slice this banana into circles.
splinters and brambles crowning your corpse.
A Small, Private Sadness by Amorak Huey – at least the title prepared me for the deep inhalations I knew I’d have. This poem brims with sadness and loss.
& this breeze hums your name
& pat a space next to them on the bed & the temperature falls
& out beyond the pines a great lake churns & churns.
The aisling is a poetic genre I know. I was taken by some of Maureen’s suggestions on this prompt:
a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.
Perhaps she will be the Madonna of the Traffic Lights,
or the Mysterious Spirit of Bus Stops.
Or maybe you will be addressed by the Lost Lady of the Stony Coves.
So my plan was to go and have a think about who my woman might be – but at the same time I am tempted to skip straight to one of these suggestions.
I came up with 5 possible women (I think I will return to the list and write an aisling for each of them in the future).
Fairly sure Bus Stops were in my head from the suggested ideas but also we have a bus station that despite several revamps ours had some of the old metal bus stands for a while. All updated now, but it amused me the gradual update and how the customer bit came after the rest.
I also have this internal conflict that I moved and lived all over for a decade and when I came back to the county, I promised myself I would live close to but not in the town I was born in. I did for several years and then I met Mr G. and the rest is history.
And today… I am going to share the whole poem!
The Waiting Lady of Green Metal Bus Stops
I used to see you half your life ago, longer – you’d sit and wait on narrow seats, head full of thought. Your frustration of lateness, your willing belief in the public transport system.
You who saw past the old, green metal bus stands and looked instead to the sweep of branches the bank of grass, who would canter over to the brook to watch water flow over stones. And read and re-read the timetable
despite knowing your schedule by heart. I watched you pick at conversations from those bus stop strangers, how the ideas would elongate in your mind, you’d carry them onto the bus
(when it eventually turned up), like precious cargo, in case you spilled a line before you reached your destination, the city of Worcester. Well, I’m still here and after you
moved away I saw other girls like you, heads full of dreams, ambitions to leave this town behind them. You always knew the pull of this place, your analogy was more a spider’s web
and trapped flies – but you see the beauty now you’ve lived in cities without stars and trees. You came back to the green, to countryside and small market towns, to urban sprawl
and this battered, old, bus terminal. You admired the new digital destination board, the ever changing roads around this space, and smiled when you saw the old, familiar bus stands. I am here to remind you
of this love. Of the attraction of home, of the importance of roots – and no matter how bad you think it’s got, at least you’re not stuck forever at the Bus Station, waiting.
Prompt: Hard-boiled detective novels are known for their use of vivid similes, often with an ironic or sarcastic tone. Novelist Raymond Chandler is particularly adept at these. Here are a few from his novels:
A few locks of dry, white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock.
Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.
From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in which you describe something with a hard-boiled simile… use just one, or try to go for broke and stuff your poem with similes.
I read today’s prompt whilst I was out in the garden planting seeds. Rhyme and Reason wrote a thought-provoking poem.
The kind of blot That none forgets,
A contrast to featured poem from Xanku– Front by Xan.
Mind you my address is on the front of my house but my front door is not
I loved the exploration in this one and that ending… perfect!
JESSICA BARKSDALE’S Zoo Story
was an intriguing poem, a force of poem which pulled me right in. A fantastic opening couplet:
Let’s not think about bears, or anything cute (and dangerous) like a marriage, a first husband, and how things go wrong.
you once married to a bear
and now a giraffe, mother to a chimp, a steadfast rhino, stepmother to a moth and a gecko, daughter to nocturnal beast undiscovered.
Next I read Broken Cabins on the Branch.
The furrowing of branches, of hardwood, of sun. your hands statuary with tranchelight
There’s some beautiful imagery in this surreal poem.
‘Write a poem in which you describe something with a hard-boiled simile.‘
Before I had a clue about subject I went here to read some similes to get my evening brain working! I just had a quick glance over the list. I thought I would create 1 simile and then as I started to write I decided to incorporate more (not to total saturation).
I wrote the poem and made several drafts/ playing mainly with the white space. I have something I think I can work on and found myself not just writing similes but making links to traditional nursery rhyme characters and these two well known figures.
We demarcate with love like Romeo and Juliet, although – we’re not star-crossed and don’t have a balcony.
I have used two similes but have chosen to share this part with you instead.
Morning questions by Jane Dougherty – a poem packed with ponder and wonder.
Deep night time dark is full of song,
I loved the beginning of echolocation by Ai Li Feng.
The faint scent of fabric softener in every fold
In my dreams, I am not afraid of light, and every truth that it forces me to tell. What I mean to say is that the dark
allows us to be anything, even beautiful.
And what a cracking title Bob Sykora‘s poem has Crying on the Exercise Bike While Watching The Great British Bakeoff – talk about specific! A powerful example of using repetition well, an enticing cascade poem.
The cake turned out poorly.
Someone is going home. The layers
I pedal faster and get nowhere.
Crumbling. Overcooked. Crying,
Because next week your baking
won’t be judged. Because the cake
was perfect when you practiced.
Coming to today’s prompt very late and tired. So we will see what happens.
First I had to read / listen to the example poems. I had my subject in mind at least – just had to attempt the write. I may have to revisit to get the wordplay but used short clipped lines and wrote more in the style of Kay Ryan than myself.
Sometimes at this stage people are either sad to see the end of the challenge or more than happy to see it finish. This year I am caught somewhere between the two… I am delighted the challenge fell during time off work, but I have a lot of things going on at the moment and turning up everyday has been difficult, but when I weigh that against all I have learnt, read and the fun along the way, it is (as always) worth it.
Looking back at the stack I think I have a couple of gems I can work with. I acknowledge there are poems in the making which wouldn’t otherwise exist.
Doing the picture prompts has been time consuming, but heart-warming to see them shared on Twitter. I hope you have all reached a point of reflection where there is hope and happiness in your decisions. I am sure we have all managed something or got pleasure from the resources Maureen Thorson has shared with us along the way.
Think of all the poems you’ve read!
It has been a pleasure! And the best… It’s not over yet – there’s another week to go!
And for anyone struggling here are some tips.
St. George’s Day
The link at the bottom for the full post will take you to my Worcestershire Poet Laureate website.