NaPoWriMo2019 Day 5

Day 5 dawns and I feel refreshed from a day of doing nothing but reading light fiction in bed with the Old Dog snuffling at my feet and the The King Cat resting lightly on my hip. My husband’s domestic prowess is greatly appreciated. His mother raised him right. (More about that later, because my mother-in-law is the inspiration for NaPoWrMo2019 Day Five’s poem.)

So…the prompt reads ” Today we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates at least one of the following: (1) the villanelle form, (2) lines taken from an outside text, and/or (3) phrases that oppose each other in some way. If you can use two elements, great – and if you can do all three, wow! ”

I wrote a villanelle on Day 1, but I have warmed to that form. I picked up the book I was reading last night at bedtime – Lee Child’s Midnight Line. I left off on page 184, but my eyes drifted to the right, almost dead centre of the page, and lighted on a line of dialogue. This, then became the lead recurring line. As to opposing lines? Well, that’s a stretch. Maybe by the final couplet it feels a bit call and response?

The second recurring line is a direct quotation of my future mother-in-law when I was first brought home to be introduced to my future husband’s parents. While I doubt that Edna ever identified herself as a feminist, she was definintely independent. But she was from a generation of women who did experience a great deal of ‘unlived life’ in the era immediately pos-World War 2.

Advice to a Daughter-in-Law

Where have they gone, do you think?
All those women who seem to disappear?
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!
Some, like woolens put in a hot wash, shrink.
What became of the sister of Shakespeare?
Where have they gone, do you think?
Because not all wives are smothered in mink.
They live in a far more restricted sphere.
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!
Loosen the chains. We are all dying here!
Where have they gone, do you think?
All those women scrubbing away stink
who have dreams that routinely are jeered.
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!
Stare them down. Do not be the first to blink!
Don't let that woman inside disappear.
Where have they gone, do you think?
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Edna Sarah holding my future husband

Featured Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

Sojourning Smith participating in GloPoWriMo2019

A Poem A Day April

Happy NaPoWritMo/GloPoWriMo 2019! I may have been writing a Poetry Daily since 15th September 2018, but I am really happy to open a website and have a prompt AND some poetry resources that are new to me to get me inspired and fired up again with the daly poetry practice. It’s not too late for you to join in. The website I follow is there are other sites out there offering daily poetry prompts, too. Just Google your way around NaPoWriMo and you will find one that suits.

Today’s prompt is all about instructions. Five years ago Clare Shaw gave a workshop I was participating in the prompt on instructions for saying goodbye. Instructions are like list poems. They are great gateway poems. mentioned IKEA. Which did get me thinking about past flat pack furniture assembly. Then I decided I had not written a villanelle in a really long time. So I challenged myself on that score.

How to Know How To 

It's hard to know how to how to
when facts and the truth are so slippery
and the flat pack arrives missing some screws.
So the furniture wobbles like tofu.
Which makes spousal types loudly disagree.
It's hard to know how to how to
when the culture is self-help and can do.
We're supposed to know how to live sanely,
but the flat pack arrives missing some screws.
The final straw to a major boo-hoo
makes you sound like a neighbourhood banshee.. .
It's hard to know how to how to
when the world doesn't want a big to-do.
There are oughts to get you caught so archly.
Why did the flat pack arrive missing screws?
Why did the wood glue not hold true?
Why can't we help feeling completely screwed?
It's hard to know how to how to
when the flat pack arrives missing some screws.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Toby Stodart on Unsplash

NaPoWriMo Minus 1

NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month, aka GloPoWriMo, Global Poetry Writing Month, commences on April Fools Day. But the folk over at have already provided a prompt to flex the poetry writing muscles. While readers on the other side of the Atlantic put their clocks forward two weeks ago,we sprang forward at 2am today. The clock ‘Spring Forward’ thing has always addled me and I feel very late with poetry practice. Given I am up and out early several mornings this week, the NaPoWriMo prompts may not get attention until later in the day.

The prompt on the website today is to write a self-portrait poem. This is my effort. The examples they give are lovely and mythic. But I have lost an hour and may be feeling a tad prosaic. However, it is something of a relief to have someone else suggest the subject or theme for the Poem A Day.

Sabbath Self-Portrait

Yeasty and doughy. No surprise.
The years' toll has given rise...

I am a Sunday loaf of bread
made with flour kept for guests.

I've a plain 'go to Meeting' face.
A glint of flint. Just a trace.

Though too smiley for piety
by some Quaker ancestry.

Generations long gone, sometimes
blood will out and ideals chime.

There's holy anger for justice
meets a pacific genus.

I keep Sabbath and most mornings
in silent allowing,

a prayer, a poem, baking
a loaf of bread offering.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Senryu Saturday

Over the next two weeks I will be teaching three workshops each week. So I am relieved that NaPoWriMo will be providing daily poetry prompts from tomorrow. Because  this little engine that could is running our of steam. And I do seriously think that April will be the end of my Poem A Day writing. At some point I need to address editting…

However, the brief sweetness of senryu suggested itself for today as I prepare to deliver a workshop on creative non-fiction.

Today would have been my sister-in-law’s 65th birthday. She died just after last Christmas and her funeral was the day after New Year’s. My husband will be memorialising her today planting sunflower seeds, a flower they both favour and have adopted as a family symbol. Gardening, as his late mother knew, heals all.

The scent of hyacinth consoles

He knew to plant many last autumn

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Writing Room

As many emerging poets gear up for writing a poem a day during NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2019 from April 1st, they may want to consider the space they occupy while writing. Virginia Woolf wrote passionately for the woman writer’s need for a room of her own. Which may sound like a recipe for writing as an occupation open only to the middle classes. However, solitude is a requirement. The lack of solitude is eloquently documented in Tillie Olsen’s “Silences,” and the deleterious effect it can on on writer productivity. A dedicated writing space can be hard to find if you share living quarters with many people, some of whom may be needy. Other’s may be time famished, hounded by the clamour of unpaid bills. Carving a place for creative work and thinking can be an act of creativity in and of itself.

This morning I was perusing a past Christmas present from my sister, a book titled “Carolina Writers At Home,” where writers living in North and South Carolina described their living and writing spaces. Cassandra King confesses that for years her writing room had to be an academic office with a door open for students to interrupt her at any time. Women often lack dedicated space for writing. They also often need to overcome the guilt for shutting out all other claims upon their attention. Women, especially those of certain past generations, were conditioned not to be selfish. The solitary nature of writing can look an awful like selfishness to people who do not appreciate the writing process.

Finding a place of solitude for regular writing can be problematic, especially since writing is not always remuneratively rewarding. That is why library closures are so heartbreaking. They are public spaces available for free, offering many of the resources writers need – a space for a laptop or use of a computer, free internet access, books for reference and refreshment, quiet. Libraries are the Democratic Republic of Books and writers are their most needy citizens. The Public Library has often been a haven for a nascent writer, myself included. (Thank you, Jean Walters!)

I started poetry practice this morning thinking that it would go one way. And then it took a sharp left turn. What emerged is a kind of ‘not a sonnet’. It has fourteen lines of ten syllables, but the rhyme scheme would not go to traditional order. So it’s a bit of a mish mash.

Writing Room

A place to look out from - also, within.
An old dog's breath is no interruption
as she gently snores and snuffles in sleep.
Otherwise, it's all silence that will keep
me undiverted, solitude replete.
That is necessary as a heart's beat.
Reading is "that selfish activity"
some would say, yet  reading is writing's key.
Find me a writer who does not worship
at the Temple of the Book, We are trollops
awaiting the penetrating insight,
the ecstatic divinely inspired light.
The writing room's holy sanctuary
is womb incubating life abstractly.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Look Out

Perhaps it is because I have young people much in mind that my Poetry Daily writing mind turns to youth and their future. Yesterday, I began what will be a whole Springtime’s co-creation of story with a number of 10-12 year olds from Curravagh National School. This is part of the Cruinniú na nÓG Creativity for Children program being run by Cavan Monaghan ETB. Then again, I am giving lunch today to an over 35 year old that I first met when he was about their age. I am old enough now to see both the beginning and the middle of some stories, as well as witness the endings of others. That is the privelege of age.

The feature photo today is one I took of a youngster in our party, the son of one of the Geopark guides standing in the window of the dining room of Belvedere House on Saturday. These past twenty years we have known peace in our border counties. I pray that Brexit does not spoil their young adulthood and lives, the way the Troubles stained so many in the previous thirty years.

Look Out

Offer yourself to the world
beyond this glass.

Crayon yourself outside the lines
of boys' dreaming

Girls, do not be confined to
polishing glass,
just looking.

No, offer all of yourselves.
Re-wild your dreams.
See the toads

in the garden someone made.
That was their toil.
Plant your own.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

The Jealousy  Wall

Today’s Poetry Daily takes inspiration from another site visited with the Marble Arch Caves Global  Geopark guides on out familiarisation trip with Ireland’s Heartland in Westmeath. We lunched and had a guided tour of Belvedere House and Gardens. Originally what was called a gentleman’s shooting box or hunting lodge, the Palladian House sits in splendour overlooking Ennels Lake. One of its claims to fame is having Euope’s largest folly in the grounds, built when one brother’s next door pile gave the heir a view of the back door and servants going to and fro. He built a wall to look like a monastic  ruin, which is known as The Jealousy Wall. The period seems to lend itself to rhyming couplets. The House and family seemed to have little talent for happiness, although the nobleman who held the title during  The Great Hunger kept all his tenants in employment and was respected locally.

The Jealousy Wall

Such Palladian mansion’s grace

Disguises an evil misplaced.

No Jealousy Wall will exclude

The bitterness a heart exudes.

A mean will set out to destroy

Any trace of a wife’s small joys.

For jealousy is great folly

Landmarked with faux ruined abbey.

Especially so. Damaged souls

Not saved by wealth, unholy

Monument to misery.

A wall of less sense, more money.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.