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NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 24

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Enjoy the final NaPo week – counting down the days.

As always for the full post click on the day.

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Day Twenty-Four

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.

Happy writing!

 

NaPo Process Notes 

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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.

 

On Writing 

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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.

handle them softly,

imagine the metal to be feathered

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NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 23

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Happy St. George’s Day! Just one week to go!

As always to access the full prompt/site, click the day.

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Day Twenty-Three

Our featured participant today is Brittany’s Blog of Random Things, where the ekphrastic prompt for Day 22 resulted in a poem that’s just a little bit fishy.

Today’s featured video resource is this film adaptation of Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “The Sandpiper.” You can find the original text of the poem here.

Taking a cue from Bishop, I’d like to challenge you today to write a poem about an animal. If you’d like to take a look at some other poems for inspiration, you might like James Dickey’s “The Dusk of Horses,” or Tennyson’s “The Eagle.”

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NaPo Process Notes 

 

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I started with the featured poem. I liked knowing the source of Brittany’s poem and checked out Laura Christensen’s website. https://laurachristensen.wordpress.com/ Laura has developed a practice of painting on recovered vintage portraits.

Portrait in Gray was a stunning poem. Beautiful lines which echo Laura Christensen’s artwork.

You collect trout scales
to adorn your skin with rainbows,

and hide your memories
under the sturgeon’s fin.

And a strong ending. A reader-stopping one.

and you find in the water that time
is never the enemy, it is the quiet

pressure urging you to grow gills
and breathe.

I marvelled in the poem for a while and re-read. It is another poem which has been saved to my NaPo resources file.

Then I hopped over to TriQuarterly to watch the video resource Sandpiper by John D. Scott. It is an interesting mix of photographs, film, animation and soft focus. I enjoyed the use of the typewriter on the soundtrack and watched the film a few times, read up on Scott and explored various links to his work, banked for post-NaPo.

I saved Sandpiper by Elizabeth Bishop to my NaPo Poetry Resources file.

Then I read the two example animal poems The Dusk of Horses by James Dickey and The Eagle by Alfred Lord Tennyson and saved them to the file too.

Yet again I find that the prompt connects to the poem I wrote the previous day. I guess many people writing ekphrastic poetry would have had animals as original stimuli.

 

On Writing 

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I started by considering my animal. One of the first places I looked was National Geographic and the first animal I found was the Smalltooth Swordfish, again there are links to the other 4 species, which live in Australia, one more for the book. For now I was reading about scientists in Costa Rica and the last remaining population of this species in Florida.

I wrote a short 4 stanza poem titled Looking for Swordfish in Costa Rica. Once I had finished I realised that the fish shared the poem with fishermen and that I had lost the animal prompt focus a little. This doesn’t matter as the prompts are optional and sometimes poems take on organic growth and spread away from the original subject. Here is a snippet from the animal half.

Seven metres of fish
disappears before the world
notices it is endangered.

 

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 22

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It is the final week! You made it… come and write some more!

logo-napowrimo As always for the full post, click the day.

Day Twenty-Two

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.

Happy writing!

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NaPo Process Notes
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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.
On Writing
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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.

NaPoWriMo Round Up Week 3

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The scariest thing about reaching the end of Week 3 of NaPoWriMo is realising April is nearly over! Where did this month go? Writing a poem a day will do that to you.

This week has felt wonderful, some of the prompts have been fruitful and I am building up a bank of ideas to work with after NaPo. I have felt very connected to a lot of the content this week and am grateful for new ideas which tie into current writing projects and will offer words which may otherwise not have been found.

This week I discovered the story of Denis Cox, an Australian schoolboy who wrote an inspiring postcard after fearing his country was behind on the space race. This was in 1957 – that wasn’t the most wondrous part… it finally arrived 52 years later. I am currently writing poetry from my experience in Australia last summer, when I visited as an International Guest Poet at the Perth Poetry Festival – which is also something I still need to blog about too, (September was busy and health has been an issue since October). This newly found story can easily be built into the body of work, funnily enough another poem I have added from historical research relates to a space shuttle mission.

The remaining poems written this week also upheld my Australian  theme.

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I also had comments from some of the poets from participating sites who were the featured poets from Napo, which is lovely. And although the posts don’t see many physical ‘likes’ there are plenty of hits showing across social media and on the website statistics, so hopefully some of the tips are helping pull others through this month of writing poetry.

Poems I have written this week:

Notre Dame 2019

Endfeel

Space Race

Laying to Rest

True Blue

After Sputnik

Fiveshore

 

I enjoyed the Lucy English animation. “Things I Found in the Hedge” – Kathryn L. Darnell (director, animation), listening to Obit by Victoria Chang and dipping my toes back into Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project. I also discovered the surrealistic work of Australian artist Shane Gehlert.

It has been an inspiring week! And I can’t believe we only have one week left!

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NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 21

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Happy Easter and 3 weeks of NaPoWriMo!

Late starting today – there is still time for your writing too, if you haven’t already done it. We are 3/4 of the way through!

logo-napowrimo As always for the full post, click on the day.

Day Twenty-One

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.

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NaPo Process Notes

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I started by reading the poems from the featured participants. I didn’t have time to watch the film completely but fast forwarded scenes (as suggested), when I have more time I will watch it in full.

I studied Lorca (mainly as a dramatist) at college. I read City that Does Not Sleep. And started thinking about the prompt.

 

On Writing 

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I searched surrealistic images as a starting point for my writing today. After an initial search which gave me more sci-fi than anything else, I decided to extend the Australian link.

I started with the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra – which I visited on my first trip to Australia.

While there was no organised Surrealist movement in Australia, its importance lies in the fact that some of Australia’s leading artists were influenced by Surrealism at a formative period of their careers. – © 2019 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

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.

‘Surrealism comes from the deeper recesses of the mind that the logical mind, with its prescribed formulas of thought is incapable of exploring.’  © 1940 James Gleeson

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.

 

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 20

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Another milestone marker… 2/3 of the way through! Go on, write a poem.

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As always, for the full post, click the day.

Day Twenty

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.

Happy writing!

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NaPo Process Notes 

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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.

Other participating sites I chose at random were:

https://starinthewind.wordpress.com/ Breaking some eggs

where a relationship is masterfully portrayed and the reader forgets it is an abecedarian poem for a while as the lines neatly tuck into each other.

https://putouttopasture.blog/ Arabian, Buckskin, Connemara by Maxie Jane where breeds of horses are cleverly listed in her abecedarian poem.

https://whimsicalwallflower.com/ where Christina Fong uses repetition in her sad abecedarian poem about illness.

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!

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https://www.nfb.ca/film/poets_on_film_no_1/

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.

 

On Writing 

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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.

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 19

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Happy Easter weekend.

See if you can find a little time/space for your poetry over this weekend.

TOP TIPS: On finding writing time

  • Sit down first thing, before your day gets busy, busy and write to the NaPo prompt.
  • Give one TV programme up and use that time to write instead.
  • If you are in the UK we have a glorious weather day today, so get outside, take a notebook and get your writing done that way.
  • Write in 5 minute intervals if you have to, we can always find 5 minutes.

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Onto today’s prompt, click on the day for the full post.

 

Day Nineteen

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.

Happy writing!

NaPo Process Notes

 

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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.

 

On Writing

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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.

 

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 18

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How does NaPoWriMo feel to you?

I was up very late last night editing my manuscript until the laptop battery died, which meant this morning I shared my first cup of coffee with the NaPo prompt on a different device whilst I waited for the laptop to come back to life.

I like reading the NaPo post and then going about the business of living/to do list tasks before coming back to work through it. Poets enjoy creating things in the backs of their minds and reading the page early does just that.

I liked the parallel between today’s prompt and the book I am currently working on. It set my mind racing.

logo-napowrimo As always for the full prompt, click the day.

Day Eighteen

Our featured participant today is Gloria D. Gonsalves, whose charming poem for Day Seventeen presents a rather common weather phenomenon from a quirky and graceful point of view.

Today’s video resource for the day is a short documentary, filmed as part of the The Favorite Poem Project. This project was started by Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States, and resulted in fifty short films in which American citizens read their favorite poems and explain why they find those poems meaningful. In this particular iteration, a Miami Beach marketer named Jessica Cotzin reads James Tate’s “The Lost Pilot,” and explains her connection with and attachment to it, including how it helped her to feel and express her own grief for the loss of a loved one.

Our prompt for the day takes its cue from how poetry can help us to make concrete the wild abstraction of a feeling like grief. “The Lost Pilot” does this, as does this poem by Victoria Chang, called “Obit.” In both poems, loss is made tangible. They take elusive, overwhelming feelings, and place them into the physical world, in part through their focus on things we can see and hear and touch. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write an elegy of your own, one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail. This may not be a “fun” prompt, but loss is one of the most universal and human experiences, and some of the world’s most moving art is an effort to understand and deal with it.

I wish you, if not happy, then meaningful, writing!

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NaPo Process Notes 

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I started with reading ALLEGORY OF DANCING by Gloria D. Gonsalves. It’s a beautiful piece which made me question why I battled with all that research yesterday when I could have taken the raindrop part of the prompt. It is packed with description and is quite cinematic, I can vividly see the scene described. 

It is another participant’s site poem to make it into my NaPo resource file as I know I will want to read it over. I loved the idea of raindrops break dancing on people’s faces.

I had a quick look around Gloria’s website. I will be back to read more of her NaPo poetry.

 

I knew about the Favorite Poem project, but it was good to be reminded of where I can find the videos. I also enjoy watching readers read poetry, as opposed to poets performing it. I like the insight to the people’s lives included in these docu films. I watched the video, my heart felt for the loss Jessica Cotzin has experienced and tugged for the wanderlust. I became absorbed by more than James Tate’s poem.

You can find more of the videos from this project here http://www.favoritepoem.org/

Favorite Poem Project: Started by Robert Pinsky during his tenure as Poet Laureate, the Favorite Poem Project is dedicated to celebrating, documenting and encouraging poetry’s role in Americans’ lives.

Then I listened to the Obit by Victoria Chang. Immensely touching. Gentle lines that cut deeply with grief. I copied it to my resource file for Day 18.

I thought about the correlation between today’s prompt and my book, which deals with loss.

 

On Writing 

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I have 60 poems or more than would answer this prompt, of course, I will write a new NaPo poem today. I am carrying the thoughts in my head this morning whilst I get on with my day, grateful that I get another one on this planet. I will write later and come back to finish notes on writing and leave a line or two.

When I came to write my poem I knew who I was writing about. During the funeral period of this relative I wrote streams in a notebook with the intention of them being poems one day, I was younger then, still a poet (before the 15 year break from creativity), I am not sure what became of that notebook, I have moved 11 times since then.

I wrote in the 3rd person to detach myself, make it seem less autobiographical but actually it would be a more powerful poem in the first person. Realising this I rejigged the narrative. It was a 7 (back to the automated/lucky number length) stanza poem and I called it Laying to Rest – the poem explores all those things the mourner lays to rest and of course it is a funeral poem.

Here’s a snippet.

wish you’d been softer 

like the petals of the roses 

which now cover up your name.

 

 

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 17

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I hope NaPoWriMo is going well for you.

It is around this time that people tend to fall behind. Writing for 2 weeks is doable – a month feels impossible to achieve… don’t believe that! We are over halfway and if you skip a day or miss a day you have 2 choices – either catch up (how many times have you written more than 1 poem in a day?) or skip that day and carry on… let’s have no talk of giving up! You can rest in May… or edit.

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As always for the full post, click the day.

Day Seventeen

Today’s featured participant is Unassorted stories, where the list poem for Day Sixteen doubles back on itself in intriguing ways.

Our featured video resource for Day 17 is this recording of the poet Lily Myers reciting/performing her poem “Shrinking Women.” As you’ll see, this recording has been viewed more than 5 million times. Wow! One thing that the popularity of this video underscores, given the subject matter of the poem, is that poetry can help us to talk about uncomfortable aspects of our lives. In writing poems, we can examine these aspects of our lives and feelings, and in sharing our poems, we can realize that we are not alone in feeling them.

And now for our prompt. As long as we are on uncovering or embodying feelings that may not be commonly presented, I’d like to share this poem by Sharon Olds, who I think of as sort of a Master (or Mistress, I suppose) of discomfiting the reader. This poem is beautiful in its focus on detail, its word choice, and it has an earthy, witchy slyness to it. It reverses what we might think of as the “usual” relationship between the sexes in a disorienting way, with the woman as the appraising watcher, and the man as the vulnerable and innocent party.

Today, I’d like you to challenge you to write a poem that similarly presents a scene from an unusual point of view. Perhaps you could write a poem that presents Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery from the perspective of the apple. Or the shootout at the OK Corral from the viewpoint of a passing vulture. Or maybe it could be something as everyday as a rainstorm, as experienced by a raindrop.

Happy writing!

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NaPo Process Notes

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I started with the participant’s site – which was already on my Reader. Angela’s poem ‘Plans for tonight’ has interesting ideas and I thought it was clever how she manipulated the list in repetition.

I know Button Poetry, some poets who feature and Lily Myers’ work. I watched the video.

 

Some powerful lines.

I read Sharon Olds poem The Connoisseuse of Slugs and it left lots of imagery in my head. I may struggle with today’s prompt with all that in my mind.

 

On Writing 

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The first consideration is the who and what of viewpoint. I imagined I would write a list and then go off to do the other things I need to do, knowing that one of the ideas would last the duration of offline activity and this would be the subject I’d choose to write about for today’s prompt.

What I actually did once I returned to the computer was… search for famous females, then look at famous artists, then myths, urban myths, film props, famous moustaches and then in the end scout online writing prompts for one with a different perspective/point of view. Maybe it is because it is late, I am tired and working on several other tasks. I bet tomorrow I will come up with some ideas for this prompt – I will be sure to note them down for future writing.

From the ideas page I choose to research famous letters and found the great story of Denis Cox, an Australian schoolboy who was so concerned about his country falling behind in the space race that he sent ‘a top scientist’ some plans for a rocket, he drew them on a postcard which he posted in 1957. The mail arrived in 2009. I had already decided to write from the p.o.v of the postcard before I discovered it had been lost for 52 years!

It’s amazing what NaPoWriMo does!

I will post a snippet soon… I promise not to take 52 years! I actually plan to write a sequence of poems and have my notes ready for post-NaPo.

Here is that snippet from the first poem called Space Race.

A scratchy ink pen dug into my pulp,

I felt the secret shape game.

 

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 16

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You are more than halfway there!

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Day Sixteen

Today’s featured participant is Katie Staten, who turned our dramatic prompt for Day Fifteen into an afterlife dialogue between Georgia O’Keefe and Sigmund Freud!

Our video resource for the day is this lovely animation of Lucy English’s poem, “Things I Found in the Hedge.” One wonderful thing I’ve learned in researching our videos for the month is that poetry seems very often to inspire filmmakers, painters, and musicians, just as movies, art, and music inspire poets. Art likes to make more of itself!

Today’s prompt takes its inspirations from Christopher Smart’s “Jubilate Agno.” Fundamentally, this is a poem about a cat. It’s also a structurally very straightforward poem – every line begins the same way, and is about some aspect of the cat at issue. But from these seemingly simple ingredients, Smart constructs a poem that is luminously, joyously weird. Just as English’s poem listing things found in a hedge renders the familiar strange by making us focus on each, individual item in the hedge, Smart makes a humble housecat seem like the most wondrous thing in the world. Today, I challenge you to write a poem that uses the form of a list to defamiliarize the mundane.

Happy writing!

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NaPo Process Notes

 

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I always get a little excited when I see a poet known to me featured in NaPoWriMo. I also like it when I read a prompt and instantly feel it is manageable, which considering I have just caught up with Day 15 and have written about the tragedy that befell Paris last night, I feel I need something lighter to get stuck into. Defamiliarizing the mundane – perfect.

I started with the participant’s site, what a wonderful idea Katie Staten had –an afterlife dialogue between Georgia O’Keefe and Sigmund Freud, a poem I can imagine before I read it!

I just love the title…

The Ghosts of Georgia O’Keeffe and Sigmund Freud Meet in New Mexico

It is a fine example of a Dramatic monologue and there are many lines that jump out at me.

No, I didn’t come here to talk about painting,
though I’d paint if I could.
I’d capture how the faraway horizon steals your words.

Beautiful. Thought provoking and the 2nd poem to make it to my resource document. I re-read it several times. Feeding off Staten’s words.

I then spent some time exploring the blog and reading other NaPo poems, I particularly like Bitextual – from Day 14. Very clever. I could have stayed longer, but needed to work through NaPo as I have more medical appointments later and am time poor. Katie’s blog is now on my Reader, so I can go back and indulge.

I was excited to watch the Lucy English animation. “Things I Found in the Hedge”
Kathryn L. Darnell (director, animation), Lucy English (writer, voice).

Watching this was a glorious experience and it is no surprise it won First Prize in Atticus Review’s Inaugural Videopoem Contest, 2018.

I am a fan of Lucy English’s work and this poem is a wonder. I felt like I didn’t want to come back out – like you do after a deep meditation. I spent some time just being.

I am surrounded by a world where art inspires poetry and poetry inspires art. Happy to be part of the movement.

I pulled myself back into the prompt and had a look at Christopher Smart’s poem from Jubilate Agno.

It is a long poem. You can listen to it here.

Jubilate Agno (Latin: “Rejoice in the Lamb”) is a religious poem by Christopher Smart, and was written between 1759 and 1763, during Smart’s confinement for insanity in St. Luke’s Hospital, Bethnal Green, London. The poem was first published in 1939, under the title Rejoice in the Lamb: A Song from Bedlam, edited by W. F. Stead from Smart’s manuscript, which Stead had discovered in a private library. – Wikipedia.

I am now going to take the prompt write a poem that uses the form of a list to defamiliarize the mundane and have a think, let it settle. I may end up writing about physio!

 

On Writing 

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I knew that I was going to use my Physiotherapy session as a basis, I originally thought I would list it and I may return to this after NaPo and do just that. It became a bit more than a list poem but within it actions were listed in chronological order.

I have already had 4 months of Physio and have now re-started since a re-referral, it takes a few weeks to work back through the system and everything has to be reassessed. It is certainly mundane after all these sessions. The poem is called Endfeel – which is what my physio is assessing constantly. Here’s a snippet.

She taps the laptop keys rapidly,

gives me her listening eye occasionally.

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