The weekly poem is back on Sunday this week. Tuesday is looking a bit too busy for long contemplation and poetry composition. Preparation for the e-course A Light in the Window: A 21 Day Journey Together Through December’s Dark Days, is going apace. I am also teaching two Zoom creative writing groups each week. In November we have been working on poetry.
And so, I will share with you some of the in session poems written this week. Given the two hour time limit I tend to concentrate on short poetry forms. We have been working with a number of syllabic forms; one introduced to me in a workshop by Angie Peita in June 2019, the shadorma, and the seguidilla. That made a lovely five, six, seven line progression.
The first form is a quote, something from the past, an action, the theme, and then the future. I drew some quotes from the Emily Dickinson Divination cards to give us a head start. These are the ones I wrote in the two hour session.
No lid has memory -
yesterday, a month, a year ago
is all in the clay pot - smashed.
Last week is in shards and dust,
pieces picked up for tomorrow.
The shadorma is a six line form that goes 3,5,3,3,7,5 syllables.
How are you?
Are you shut in too?
All of us
goldfish swimming round our bowls
looking out from in.
The final poetry form is, like the shadorma, Spanish in origin. It was originally from a dance song tradition. It is also syllabic form, the lines running, 7,5,7,5,5,7,5. There is assonance rhyme in lines two and four. Also, like in some Spanish dances, there is a pause, in the dance for an instrumental interval. So there is usually a full stop at the end of line four. In my seguidilla, I ranged back to the Emily Dickinson quotation.
The lid on Memory's off
and the clay pot smashed
to Smithereens on the floor,
past lost, time forgot.
What pieces picked up
by the dustbroom and shovel
make up tomorrow.
I hope you are doing okay in whatever Lockdown you are experiencing. Stay well.
A Light in the Window: A 21 Day Journey Together Through December’s Dark Days
How are you? Are you okay? It’s dark outside most of the day. Most of us are staying inside, working at home, cocooning from the corona virus, shielding, trying to maintain and sustain life in a new, strange and inconvenient normal. Isolation can feel lonely even with the internet, telephones, Zoom and FaceTime. The dark days of December beckon us into silence and contemplation. This has always been so. But it has also been the time for storytelling beside the hearth and sharing experiences with those who gathered around.
This e-course is both a guide and companion. Each day you will receive an email with a short piece of writing for reflection. From that lit candlewick you can journal around the topic. You may spend twenty minutes or two hours. You may choose to write a poem, or write a memory, or make some visual art inspired by the prompt.
That is your journey.
But journeys benefit from companions, so this e-course is supported by the option to Zoom over the evenings of December 6th (St. Nicholas Day), December 13th (Day 4 of Hanukkah), and 20th (Winter Solstice Eve) with me and any fellow traveller who choose to check in and share their light with one another. It is not compulsory, but for those of you who may not be seeing or speaking to others often, you are welcome to my virtual fireside on those evenings. We will light our stove and tune in via Zoom 6-8pm Irish Time on those days. That will mean North Americans can brunch or lunch with us while continental Europeans can sip their evening cocoa as we swap tales like 21st century Canterbury Tale travellers. Zoom invitations will go out with the Sunday email.
If I ask my husband very nicely I am sure he might be persuaded to give us a tune.
December marks the celebration of light festivals in three religious traditions. Christians will light the first candle on their Advent wreaths on Sunday, 30th November on a day that is a full moon, as well as a lunar eclipse. Jewish families will light the first of eight candles on their menorah on December 8th. Pagans will celebrate the shortest day of winter solstice on 21st December (depending upon where you live in the world) as the rebirth of the sun.
Treat each daily email as a kind of window to open on an Advent calendar. Treat it as some daily low-cal, hi-inspiration. We are waiting for the return of the light – physical and metaphorical. Darkness can be frightening for some, but we can befriend it. We all grew out of the darkness of our mother’s womb to emerge into the bright lights of a delivery suite or the softer lighting of a bedroom. Most of us started life with our eyes shut tight, but gradually we adjusted to this new brightness and clarity.
We are in a time of change and uncertainty. Yet, this autumn the whooper swans flew over 800 miles from Iceland and made their winter home once again in local Lough Moneen. They honk overhead daily, just as they have done each year we have lived in our little home in West Cavan that has a view of hills in County Leitrim and the wind turbines on Corry Mountain in Roscommon.
This e-course requires the most rudimentary of tools. You need a notebook of some sort to journal. You will need a pen. Crayons or coloured pens and pencils might appeal to some of you. You may decide on some days to use craft materials that you already have around the house. What you may not have is a candle. This could be a tea light or something fancier and scented; in the interests of home safety you may use a battery charged candle. Keep it simple and safe and work with the requirements of your household.
No matter what you spiritual or religious tradition or upbringing, celebrate the light during these dark days this December. You are invited to reflect and contemplate as you wait for personal and collective epiphanies. We have the means in our hands and hearts. You are welcome to my virtual fireside each Sunday to share what is sparking within you.
The e-course will cost you 21 $/£/€ – or whatever is your local currency – for all twenty-one days. You can register for the e-course using the form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive an email to direct you to the Paypal account that will ensure that you receive your daily emailed ray of light during the dark days of December.