The NaPoWriMo prompt for today asked poets to scroll through the photos posted on the Liminal Spaces Twitter feed and choose one to write about. There are many interesting and strange photos there, but this is one that sparked something for me. The poem is still a bit liminal too…on the verge…and not yet arrived here.
You Are Probably Telling This With a Sigh Imagine, if you can, a man with the deepest voice you’ve ever heard sitting at a strangely firelit table, intimate in an otherwise teeming bar, looking at you in way you will remember 23 years later, on a random Wednesday, while you’re folding a pair of your daughter’s leggings and waiting for a second pot of coffee to finish brewing. Imagine, if you had left that night, away from the strangely firelit table, and ventured into something less sure. Perhaps deeply contenting. Perhaps disastrous. Where you might sit again, 23 years later, across from a man, running your finger around the rim of a coffee cup, counter-clockwise, in some subconscious spell of time reversal. Imagine, if there were only two roads, in a calm yellow wood, and not the tangled many-paths of options, like an intricate burst of blood-vessels pulsing life to places you can’t control, but might try to, or at least hope to look all the way to the end of a shady track, beyond the protective undergrowth to see not what but who is waiting.
I have barely written a single creative word since last April. Yet here I am, on the eve of National Poetry Month, feeling something like…enthusiasm?…to tackle another poem-a-day challenge. As in previous years, I plan to use prompts from both NaPoWriMo.net and my local poetry group’s 30/30 challenge in order to generate the poems. I aim to write something every day, though not necessarily post here every day. If pandemic life has taught me one thing, it’s the importance of embracing both uncertainty and flexibility.
The prompts traditionally begin on March 31st in preparation for a productive April. Today’s “early-bird prompt” asked writers to spend a few minutes looking for a piece of art in the online galleries of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. After finding something that piques interest, study the photographs and the accompanying text to inspire your poem.
I chose this photo, more for the title of the piece and the description than the actual image. Then a draft came out. Whether or not I will ever shape the poem into something more is a six-months-from-now decision, after the words have settled.
Cosmetic Vessel in the Shape of a Cat Where cosmetic implies to beautify improve the face not just of the body but of things as they seem impress with transformation superficial dusting that somehow makes me feel more here the shape of a cat is some classic ideal grace unmatched but mystery too the way the lithe muscles of a back in motion, toward prey or affection convey a power I have yet to hold how a vessel is a place to contain something utilitarian, necessary or simply coveted and kept a swift vowel switch and vassal I become to perfection
After a hard, long winter, what better thing to reveal itself in the melting snow than this affirming found poem at a nearby school park?
Usually April is my favourite month, but with everything going on in the world, I fear it’s going to be an especially worrying and trying 30 days. But poetry has always been my balm against the harshness of the world, and a way to work through fears, grief and other hard emotions. I’ve been feeling so uninspired to write anything lately, but I’m hoping to use this month, and the daily prompts for the NaPoWriMo challenge, to get me back into writing practice. I may not post every day, but I will certainly do my best to write every day. Part of what I’ve always loved about this poem-a-day challenge is that it pushes me to write in styles or forms I don’t usually try, and about subjects I might otherwise never think of. While in the past I’ve thought of this as simply a good creative starter, this year I think it will be a good distraction too.
Wanna read, write, and create along with me? There’s no time like the present. I think the world is doing a good job of teaching us all that lesson right now.
The NaPoWriMo early-bird prompt is to write a poem about a favourite bird. So here’s my attempt to incorporate that topic with Ginsburg’s poetic style, the American Sentence. A little like a haiku, with seventeen syllables spread out over one poetic sentence. I’ve never written one of these before, but like I just said above, there’s no time like the present.
Two magpies squawk for bread, unaware I’ve got rationing on the brain.
Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt asked for a poem that “doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic.” I tried to meld that with the Poetic Asides call for a “sketch” poem. Played around with spacing a bit in this one too, which I don’t often do.
Every rough draft is a sketch
a scribble of words dashing
across a page hummingbird thoughts
flitting, then caught inkblot memory
what does it mean and does it mean something
Adumbration is another way to say
outlined in shadow scratched with
a lead point snake imagination
wriggling, toward something draw a line
from one star to the next with your finger
string of light connecting
A little tired today. A little pressed for time. A little stressed. So I was happy to see the Poetic Asides prompt asking for a “Little ______ ” poem. Admittedly, this one was penned with little effort, but it did inspire me to listen to Fleetwood Mac while I work.
Fleetwood Mac called them sweet.
Sometimes I think it’s true.
There are truths no one can bear.
Souls who know
sometimes the real gift
are the words we don’t share.
A short one today because I’m busy, and also disheartened about the results of the election in my province. Want to stay optimistic about the future, both the social and environmental aspects of it, but some days that’s hard.
The NaPoWriMo prompt asked for a poem that presents a scene from an unusual point of view, like a rainstorm from a raindrop’s viewpoint. My take didn’t have that potential for beauty, but it was fun to write in the midst of my political wound-licking.
Comment From The Platform
I’ve propped you up for months
in rhetorical fashion,
and you stood on me last night
to declare your plans and passion.
Please don’t blame me,
when your lies are exposed
and the support goes a’crashin.
A few months ago I stumbled upon this great haiku contest sponsored by Whole Life Soaps. Write a haiku for a chance to have your words printed on a line of soaps! How cool! Poetry in the shower, baby!
Well my words won’t be washing anyone this year, I was so pleased to see that I cracked the top 15 out of 500 entries, which earned me an honourable mention.
This is my poem:
in a stranger’s bathroom
To see the other honourable mentions, runner up, and the excellent winning poem, check out the Soap Blog here.
If my writing had to talk about itself, it’d probably tear up a little, then confess that it often feels lonely and neglected. I always want to spend time with it, but it usually gets the shaft in favour of family and other job obligations. But I really do love it, I love who I am when I’m with it, and I make time for it when I can. In the past year I’ve realized if I want it to thrive, I have to give it extra special attention.
Last fall, I applied as an apprentice in the Writers’ Guild of Alberta Mentorship Program and was surprised and excited to find out that I’d been chosen . I was even more delighted to find out that I’d been matched with Sue Sinclair, an accomplished Canadian poet that I admire very much.
In those unseasonably warm October days, January seemed really far away. Oh, the plans I had to get a jump on my project! The words I would write, revise, and even polish to a shine. Then I blinked, or sneezed, or something, and here it is — the first day of the program. Unfortunately, some of the poems I’ve written are still looking a bit dull. And many others are just chilling out in my head, waiting their turn to see the light.
No jump start, but heaps of enthusiasm. I have a plan, a schedule and motivation. I have a mentor that I am thrilled to work with, and am part of a Guild that had enough faith in my writing to give me this opportunity. Over the next four months, my writing will get the attention it’s been craving. Now, in the immortal words. of Kool Moe Dee, “I go to work.”