Day 20 of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo practically begs us to get out of our comfort zones. It is preaching revolution in one’s poetry practice. So what can you do to mount those barricades in form or content? I have Alice Notley’s volume Grave of Light. She practiced poetic disobedience alright. So today I am attempting to cross all my personal poetry taboos. This means there will be rhyme. There will be form. There will be light verse! And there will be a tale of disobedience.
Here’s the prompt.
Our craft resource for the day is Alice Notley’s essay, The Poetics of Disobedience. In it, Notley advocates for a poet to “maintain a state of disobedience against…everything.” By this she means remaining open to all forms, all subjects, and not becoming beholden to “usual” methods for writing. Whenever we are sure that there is one “right” way to write, or some specific set of topics that are the “right” ones to discuss, we should ask ourselves, what part of experience are we leaving out? And why?
Our prompt for the day (optional as always) takes its cue from Notley’s rebelliousness, and asks you to write a poem that involves rebellion in some way. The speaker or subject of the poem could defy a rule or stricture that’s been placed on them, or the poem could begin by obeying a rule and then proceed to break it (for example, a poem that starts out in iambic pentameter, and then breaks into sprawling, unmetered lines). Or if you tend to write funny poems, you could rebel against yourself, and write something serious (or vice versa). Whatever approach you take, your poem hopefully will open a path beyond the standard, hum-drum ruts that every poet sometimes falls into.
The Ballad of the Dissident Daughter
It’s not that she’s being truculent.
Or even gives me much cheek.
It’s the silences when she goes absent
that I wish she were more shriek than geek.
It started when she asked if we could subscribe
to Newsweek instead of our usual, Time.
I blame her brother, who gave her a MS magazine
subscription when she was only just turned sixteen.
She went off to a good enough college
that should have kept her on the right moral track.
Despite that fact,she was soon eighteen
wanting to major in aphrodisiac.
Liberation was the cry, and it wasn’t from Hitler.
In my time that meant celebrating VJ Day.
Why couldn’t she be Caesar’s wife and marry a banker?
Instead of she’s off inventing some other V-Day.
I shudder to think of the mirrors she’s held
as she’s peered up the down below.
I taught her to sit like a lady, knees neatly parallel.
But what is a lady these days I’d like to know?
First, she refused to cover her head at Mass,
then acting like church attendance was trespass.
It’s the NOT going to Mass that matters,
not whether you don or doff your chaplet will cause a stir.
I’d speak to the priest, but he’s always terribly busy in Lent.
I’d offer it up, if that strategy were not so oblique.
I pray to St. Monica nightly, giving her my personal lament.
I feel too antique to fathom all this modern realpolitik.
Instead of being so obstinately hellbent,
why cannot my daughter manage to be a good Catholic?
Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith