I just couldn’t choose one featured participant for the day, so we have two, both providing responses to Day 20’s “abstraction” prompt. First up is Salovie, with a mysterious meditation on the desert, and second, Christine Smart, with a brief lyric centered on spring blooms.
Today’s featured resource is the Open House poetry radio program. On each program, hosts Cornelius Eady and Patricia Spears Jones interview poets about their new and recent work. You can listen online, or live every Friday on NYC’s WBAI.
Today’s prompt is a variation on a teaching exercise that the poet Anne Boyer uses with students studying the work of Emily Dickinson. As you may know, although Dickinson is now considered one of the most original and finest poets the United States has produced, she was not recognized in her own time. One reason her poems took a while to gain a favorable reception is their slippery, dash-filled lines. Those dashes baffled her readers so much that the 1924 edition of her complete poems replaced some with commas, and did away with others completely.
Today’s exercise asks you to do something similar, but in the interests of creativity, rather than ill-conceived “correction.” Find an Emily Dickinson poem – preferably one you’ve never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it! (Not sure where to find some Dickinson poems? You’ll find oodles at the bottom of this page).
I read the NaPo page before work this morning. I was looking forward to the prompt as I love Emily Dickinson. During Lockdown I discovered the Emily Dickinson Museum and spent a lot of time at events and workshops as well as making future plans to visit (once I have earned back the wages I lost during my ill-health year and then the Pandemic).
So I have quite a few Emily Dickinson inspired poems I’ve written but I have never started with her work.
I started with the featured poems. The first poem, Belief by Salovie was incredible. Such a huge world inside such a thin poem. I read it over and over and loved the ending, the feeling of this poem and the created word! I haven’t got a tumblr account but am enjoying seeing through NaPo that people are still using that platform.
After being blown away by the first featured poem, I read the next one. Calm by Christine Smart – which was the same word I chose for mine. I love a plum tree and found this considered thought to be meditative. I also liked the use of blending words into one word to create the invented word.
I know today’s resource and listened to one of the programmes as I got ready this morning.
I look forward to listening to more soon and have added it to the list.
I read Anne Boyer’s bio and the page about Emily.
I have several tomes of Dickinson’s poems but unable to resist a link I checked out the Poetry Foundation page and chose from there. There are obstacles between the desk and the bookcase – so it was easier too.
I read about twenty poems and eventually chose Wild nights – Wild nights! (269) and settled down to pen today’s poem. Shifting the poem into a block of prose makes it feel different immediately, although reading it I hold Dickinson’s rhythm. I already had my idea in mind when I read the poem and that’s why I chose it – but I have no idea how I am going to write that into it – I am just going to do it and see what happens.
I ended up writing an extremely personal poem which I may never share. Apt in a way. Because it was from a Dickinson poem the voice and structure feels like something I may not have arrived at without that frame being the starting point.
muscle memory, now our luxury.
I really enjoyed today’s NaPo – maybe it was the relief of time after a working week of squeezing NaPo in. I also managed to get to the A Common Sense Reading series this evening, there was a great Q&A/ discussion afterwards and lots of links shared.
It was lovely being on the call in real-time. I feel I may have found this resource too late as the next part f the programme restarts in Autumn and like most events is back to LIVE. However, Jordan Stempleman is planning to keep some readings online and I do have the archives to look forward to.