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NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 28

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The end of the last weekend of NaPo 2019.

The glory of a Sunday, a day that stretches before me filled with the possibility of new words. It feels good.

I wanted to start with a tip on frustration. Which is the opposite of how I feel today but was very much how I felt last night after attempting the Shakespearean Sonnet prompt. Sometimes Art is frustrating, it is part of the creative path and something we learn to overcome/live with/abide.

I know that my forte is not rhyme, which is one reason I find writing sonnets hard. I know that I have a blinker when it comes to sonnets, if you said Wankel rotary engine, my reaction would be the same, although I could probably explain the engine more efficiently! Despite all this I tried to open my mind to the prompt and although I had the freedom to dismiss it, I wanted to give it a go. This is my attitude to NaPo and Poetry, always learning, staying open. But it hurts a bit when you fall flat on your face and that is how I felt by the end of my creation. I liked the story behind it and when I read it over next week, maybe I will like the poem… what I didn’t want was the residue of negative feeling, especially before bed. (A bed that was still covered in props from earlier animation making.)

So I set off to find another prompt and that is what you can do. So in actual fact last night I had practice with rhyme, meter, structure, metaphor, and argument and attempted one of the oldest traditions in English poetry and also wrote an extra poem about illness called Vertical. Looking back at yesterday’s prompt I could have done a number of things other than try to write my own sonnet, I may revisit it.

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Frustration – accept it, deal with it, do not break things – write more poems!

With this in mind, let’s get stuck into Day 28! Can you believe you have written 4 weeks of poems?

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

Day Twenty-Eight

There are only three days left now in Na/GloPoWriMo 2019. I hope you’ve been enjoying the month so far, and are ready for the home stretch.

Our featured participant for the day is paeansunpluggedblog, where the Shakesepeare-inspired prompt for Day Twenty-Seven gave rise to a bard-inspired cento.

Our video resource today was suggested by Elizabeth Boquet, she and a fellow group of poets in Lausanne, Switzerland, have been engaging with the concept of meta-poems – which are poems about poems! In this video, the poets Al Fireis, Lily Applebaum, Dave Poplar, and Camara Brown discuss Emily Dickinson’s “We learned the Whole of Love.” Find additional background and video discussions of other meta-poems here.

As you may have guessed, today I’d like to challenge you to try your hand at a meta-poem of your own. You might check out the Wallace Stevens and Harryette Mullens poems featured in the article about metapoetry linked above, or perhaps Archibald MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica” or Kendel Hippolyte’s “Advice to a Young Poet.”

Happy writing!

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NaPo Process Notes 

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I read the prompt earlier this morning and worked through the resources. Punam’s poem Doffing my hat to the Bard was well constructed using lines from Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Today felt a bit like a study day. I checked out https://elizabethboquet.com/ then watched the video.

I am a fan of Emily Dickinson.

I looked at the mini course on meta poems. I read Large Red Man Reading by Wallace Stevens and Sleeping with the Dictionary by Harryette Mullen.  Then read Ars Poetica by Archibald Macleish and Advice to a Young Poet by Kendel Hippolyte.

I also turned to another of my favourite poets, Pablo Neruda. Read his Ars Poetica here.

I have written Ars Poetica before.

 

On Writing 

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I then starting thinking of writing, but perhaps the best way of writing an Ars Poetica – is not to think at all.

What surprised me most about this freewrite approach is I wrote a prose poem. Almost unheard of. I called it Ars Poetica.

It is the slow dawn that creeps light between the gap in bedroom curtains,
the easy steam of the morning kettle, the grey sky ink blotting to blue,

 

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 27

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It’s the last weekend of NaPo!

As always for the full post, click the day.

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Day Twenty-Seven

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.

 

NaPo Process Notes 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

On Writing

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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.

https://poemshape.wordpress.com/tag/how-to-scan-iambic-pentameter/

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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.

Here’s a snippet.

She longed to be vertical,

it became her new ambition.

 

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 26

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Four days to go! You can do this!

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

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Day Twenty-Six

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.”

Happy writing!

 

NaPo Process Notes

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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
snapped?

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!

 

On Writing
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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.

I read this article https://news.emory.edu/features/2019/04/creative-writing/index.html about the work Jericho does as a Professor at Emory University. It offered a little insight to the new form.

…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.

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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.

HAPPY DANCE!

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.

 

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 25

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Five days to go!

The final week of NaPo always feels strange, you have, by now become used to the daily writing and it feels alien that next week you will be released from the bounds. It takes a few weeks for this routine to feel anything other than arduous. I love writing and if I could write every day for the rest of my life, I would. But that doesn’t mean to say this challenge comes easily or feels glorious all of the time. Of course, within the first fortnight there were some incredible prompts, resources and poems and I had fun, but it takes a while to find your rhythm – and just as you do, the month closes.

Do not feel sad. Just keep going.

Enjoy!

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As always for the full post, click the day.

Day Twenty-Five

Our featured participant for the day is Orangepeel, where the reference book poem for Day Twenty-Three is sure to put you in fits (emphasis totally intended).

Today’s featured video resource is this short film featuring a reading of Keats’ “To Autumn,” along with a sumptuously sensuous dessert. This video makes me hungry, and also, weirdly nostalgic for September!

And now for today’s prompt. Taking a cue from our video resource for the day, and from Keat’s poem, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that:

  • Is specific to a season
  • Uses imagery that relates to all five senses
  • Includes a rhetorical question, (like Keats’ “where are the songs of spring?”)

Happy writing!

 

NaPo Process Notes 

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I started with the participant’s site. Bruce Niedt’s poem Complete Guide to Page 427 of the Dictionary was a wonderful read, although I baulked a bit when I got as far as flay and flense. The ending held humour and as far as poems go, they need reaction. It worked well. A fairly, fabulous, frolic with F words.

I saved Bruce’s poem to my NaPo resource file. He also inspired me to collect my own list of F words, which I have banked to use post-NaPo.

I then watched the film Honey Pears, and mostly got hungry.  I enjoyed To Autumn by John Keats and the soundtrack, which breathed power into the poem.

I also found a copy of To Autumn to read and save to the resource file, it is a beautiful poem, one I know I have in a book somewhere – but in modern times it is good to have it on the laptop. You can listen to the audio on the Poetry Foundation website.

Today’s prompt asks for a lot to be included, it will need some thinking time.

 

On Writing 

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The prompt asks for the poem to refer to:

  • a specific to a season
  • use imagery that relates to all five senses
  • include a rhetorical question, (like Keats’ “where are the songs of spring?”)

So, I go in search of seasons. I knew I wanted to write about Spring – as it is happening at present. The blossom is out in full bloom at the moment in the UK and we are experiencing sunny days and heat waves, followed, of course, by days of rain and thunderstorms. Slightly more than April Showers.

The first thing which came to me was the rhetorical question as my meteorologist search brought up meteorological and astronomical spring. I was happy about that as the rhetorical question was the part of today’s prompt which I was most panicked by.

Following a link at the bottom of the Met Office webpage, I read some spring facts which helped generate ideas for incorporating 5 senses into my poem.

And so today’s poem started in a very fragmented way, answering the call of thoughts in short words and phrases, sometimes stanzas dotted amongst copied facts, ready to be quilted into a rich example to fulfil every sense for the reader. (Or at least, that was my hope.)

By the end of my emptying-of-thoughts, I had sound and taste to fit in, I managed this easily within one verse and as homage to the video resource from today, included pears.

In the end the poem has 12 stanzas (one of the longest I have written this NaPo and the most sensual, thanks to a prompt asking for delivery for all the senses), is titled North of the Equator. I thoroughly enjoyed writing it and it has been hard choosing just one snippet to share.

watched our tulips wilt at the invasion of heat,
watered everything back to the glory of green

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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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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

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.