The challenge today is to write a metapoem, or poem about poetry. AKA and Ars Poetica. Archibald Macleish has done this so well that I could weep over my own paltry effort this morning. I commend to you also Marianne Moore, Wallace Stephens and Emily Dickinson. I have considered the nature and purpose of poetry before in this blog here.https://sojourningsmith.blog/2019/03/21/world-poetry-day/.
I begin the first leg of a what will be a week long road trip later this morning. I hope to find wifi along the way to be able to post a Poetry Daily each day. But who knows what the wilds of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland will provide – other than astonishing beauty and inspiration. So, although there may be delayed posts the actual writing of a poem a day will still happen. I have a smaller notebook. I won’t have my magic fountain pen. But travel is supposed to rattle you out of your comfort zone.
It's a way to see 360 degrees, outside and interior. Or interrogate tastes, feelings in words, sound the heart's echoes in the round. It's a way to be free - within lines that unbound. You can never be lonely with some poetry. Not while it talks with your walk. It's turnkey and Houdini unshackling the locks.
Today’s prompt is to do a “remix” of a Shakespearean sonnet. Sonnets used to scare me, but since this poem a day lark started last September I have had a bash at them a few times. Some of my efforts I even like (especially the one where Brooklyn Bridge features). Today I chose Sonnet 116, the one that begins
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds,
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
Riff on 116
Love does not rock and roll when the key shifts. It's more like jazz - improvisational. Love keeps making the music that lifts. Phone home and they always will take your call. It doesn't matter what dive you are in some far flung corner of the unknown earth. They love you famous or has been or have had repossessed your house of mirth. Yeah, they know your whole story, chapter, verse, the back when, the first dance, all your bold hopes, the down and dirty hours when you cursed any and every person. But nope! Love did not flinch. Even when called a fool. Love knows its mind. And music has its rules.
The prompt for today is to use repetition. The villanelle and pantoum use it to great effect. However, I have written a couple villanelles already this month and the pantoum is not a favourite form. I am on the fly this morning as I have a workshop that I need to be out the door to in a little over an hour. Feeding and washing need to also get factored into that time. So I took the quotation that was the jumping off point by my poetry creative colleague Helen Shay. She used a translated quotation from the Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book. “How cruel is sorrow as a companion to one with few dear friends: the path of exile holds fast such a one.”
The Path of Exile
Hold fast to the path of exile, you with few dear friends. Keep moving past your own solitude. Past the ruined house your grandfather built for his new bride.
Hold fast to the path of exile. Keep moving. The past is just a blur of scenery, a babel of white noise. Take refuge in your solitude. Expect no pity. Hold your face up to the rain.
Hold fast to the path of exile. Keep moving past your own solitude, you with few dear friends and finding no mercy for the ghosts that travel with you along the path of exile.
Hold fast to the path of exile. Keep moving past the present. Place one foot in front of the other. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Hold fast to the path of exile. One country is much like another so long as you can still breathe.
You with few dear friends hold fast to the path of exile. Keep moving with your cavalcade of ghosts packed in your lone carrier bag full of what was once a life you had loved. Let us walk together.
The daily prompt from NaPoWriMo2019 asks us to take a reference book and choose words from two pages in front of you and go from there. I mixed this up a bit, since it is a bit like an exercise I do in Word Alchemy that I call “Word Salad.” But I choose up to six words that pop up at random and then go about trying to make a connection. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s a stretch. Sometimes it’s hilarious. For the purposes of today’s NaPowriMo2019 exercise in poetry writing I left the OED on the shelf and picked up the Chamber’s Dictionary of Etymology, which always makes for fascinating reading. The random words I picked out were spike, exemplary, protest, detest, nomad. They are all in there in some form of their etymological definition.
This was great fun! Who doesn’t love a lexicon?! I’ve loved the word ever since I found it in an Emily Dickonson poem age 11.
Lexical Slaw Word Alchemy
So many versions of how to know the word universe in the mind of God in just about any language
which may be somewhat helpful to the venturing nomad searching and incurring on new pasture
yet even words can splinter language deflecting into dialect so dense the origins get swallowed whole
but something sticks in the throat like a vow to dissent that then regurgitates like a solemn curse
Source document as reference is public testimony for all to see. Yet time will free the redactions of agreed meaning, as necessity or adventure into word alchemy.
First off, apologies for the rat’s nest of a format on Day 22 NaPoWriMo. I was typing it in the WordPress block form in Safari on my iPad Mini. It looked okay, but obviously not! I have reservations about the the WordPress app I have on my device because before blocks came into WordPress it played havoc with any kind of poetry formatting. I needed to practice for my road trip, which starts on April 28th. At least now I can try and rectify or update the app before I go. And if not, then I just have to deal with the limitations because I am not lugging my laptop all around Scotland.
Today’s NaPoWriMo daily prompt is about animals. Living where I do I figured that what I see on a daily basis needed to be front and centre. And I don’t mean dogs or cats. They get enough attention in this blog already. These are Irish cows by the way. They are quite conversational and like to come up to the field’s perimeter to ask for gossip. Therefore, I have salted the Irish for white cow – bo fin – to alert the reader that this is not just any old calf.
Wee Bo Fin in the field, looking outside it under the watchful eyes of your massive mammy, would you look at your knobbly knees?! For all your half-ton weight you kick up your heels as gleeful as the little lambies in yonder pasture. A sweet wee heffer they would say of ye, eating spring's sweet new grass seasoned with buttercup and cow parsley.
When they load you into the trailer to go off to mart you may never hear your mother's keening moos. But I will. For days afterwards.
…and I am up way to early for the NaPoWriMo prompt to be published on the website. Basically, I fell asleep too early and wound up taking a nap. So after a while I gave up on sleep and began to remember how I loved writing in darkness at winter solstice. Then it got light earlier and I slept a bit later. I am semi-allergic to sunshine and actually prefer autumn/winter to summer. And who doesn’t love spring (except in Elliot’s Wasteland.
So I decided to just to do poetry practice and work with what was staring me in my face. Also, time for another villanelle practice.
It’s so still. I love writing in the dark. I write with a plump peach moon for my lampstand in silence before those up with the larks (barring the scratch of my pen making marks, the twang of rubberband mental reaches). It’s so still. I love writing in the dark. It redefines what is shadow, and stark. In the small hours I can explore new found land in silence before those up with the larks. I chivvy inspiration’s divine spark. I write so I might fully understand. It’s so still. I love to write in the dark. I like my little nightime writing ark. I sail in it, ride tides, beach on strands in silence, before those up with the larks when all is phosphorescent, with few sharks to trouble my inner night hinterland. It’s so still. I love to write in the dark in silence, before those up with the larks.
Ye know, that's a whole nuther sit-u- ation we don't want to think about, kiddo. Tarnation! Gimme that! Ye know, we don't have to go see the ships come in at Buckhorn. It's like Santa. And Santa's a whole nuther thing. Thanksgiving! We got everyone here. I hate potluck. Velma insists. I don't want to hurt feelings, but...her pierogi is a whole nuther entirely.
copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
The prompt for Day 20 NaPoWriMo 2019 is to not use fancy pants poetry speech. Well two phrases from my Pennsylvania childhood leapt out of my hypocampus. It’s not so much monologue as a mall walking stream of consciousness.
As I was opening the iPad mini this morning to check out Day 19’s prompt from NaPoWriMo2019 a random tweet came up on my screen. And that changed my morning routine. There was news of riot and shooting in London/Derry City last night. There! Now you know what the Stroke City in the title refers. It was coined by the late Gerry Anderson, a radio announcer in Northern Ireland. The full or abbreviated version you choose to use tends to reveal a lot about where you stand sectarian wise. A journalist was shot in the melee and died. Right on the the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that stopped this kind of thing making the morning news. It’s not that there have not been the odd incidents over the years, but for there to be one so close to this kind of anniversary is just not the way you want to begin your day. Truth be told, with the Brexit wrangles there has been a low level anxiety that things might kick off again. Also, a lot of denial that things will ever go back to how bad things were before the Good Friday Ageement. It all feels especially poignant since I was working yesterday on an EU Peace IV arts project that had children from both Cavan and Fermanagh in the group.Peace building is a long haul process.
So I have scrapped NaPoWriMo for today and have reverted to Poetry Daily type. Thoughts this Good Friday for the family of Lyra McKee, 29, who died in the course of doing her journalism job.
Pesach/Good Friday in Stroke City
Last night, a full moon so bright it might as well have been daylight.
All the uncertainty has peaked. Still, it is accord most of us seek.
The danger has not passed. Blood on the street. But no tear gas.
It is a season of bitter herbs, salt tears, the temple disturbed.
Once, a generation ago, on a Good Friday the flow
of hope and history rhymed. Today, I awake to a report of a crime
too like the past of tension and tears, when people lived on their nerves and fears.
This was then Planet Normal. A twenty-one year lull...
Wash her blood from the street. Pray the Peace never becomes obsolete.
Today’s featured photo is my own of a sculpture that looks over Lough MacNean and the border between Fermanagh and Cavan, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Imagine peace…may it be so and make it so.
Often what connects people is loss. Poetry is all about making connections. They even have that slogan on the NaPoWriMo.net website banner. Losses…we have all had some, whether it is a loved one – pet or person – or a job, a home, a family. In the way that the universe operates in synchronicity a bedtime conversation last night feels appropriate for the morning’s poetry practice.
Last night at bedtime your daughter and I discussed you. And really? You raised your kids fine. But they miss you.
Part of it is emptying the family homeplace. First, your clothes to all your favourite charity shops. Then the NHS patient appliances back to the hospital. Again. But.. It's all good recycling. Still... your daughter flees the house absent of your smell. Empty now has a scent. Also, the having to fold your reading glasses found on your bedside cabinet beside the Jodi Picoult book you will never now know how it all ended.
Her friends are kind. But they are young and think the object of grief is to forget its ache. All she wants to do is remember you. So we talk of what went right and some of your unlived life.
Just before she leaves before the lights go out and kisses my cheek saying "Night Night" I tell your daughter how all daughters eventually become their mothers. Even if only in our small foibles. Like the reminder notes I post beside my purse and on the kitchen counter for tomorrow just like my own mother. And your daughter goes to her bed with a smile.