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.
As always for the full prompt, click the day.
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!
NaPo Process Notes
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.
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.