Many who normally would not be at home midweek and able to surf the internet, welcome! If uncertainty is certainly our new normal, this is my tip for those new to staying at home. Try writing a poem a day. It beats paranoia and if you draft it with pen and paper, that will keep you temporarily distracted from news of Doomsday as you cower behind your bog roll tower. (Seriously, some are going without because others were greedy and somehow thought this bug gives you the shits. It doesn’t. So stop hoarding so those who have medical conditions that require a lot of toilet paper have some! My brother reports that New York City seems sold out.)
If you are new to the writing a poem a day gig I suggest that you connect on Twitter with Poetry Ireland’s poet in residence Catherine Ann Cullen (@tarryathome). She is posting a prompt daily, one for kids and one for adults. From personal experience I can say that writing a poem a day is a very grounding activity. It will help harness some of those monkeys swinging on the bars of your jungle gym mind.
While I am less enthusiastic about poetry manuscript re-writes at the moment I am thinking that I will step up the poetry practice, even if I don’t post daily. For the moment I am sticking with the midweek haiku and the Sunday Weekly. But that may change. Which mirrors our current reality.
While more tweaking, editting and reshuffling goes on I like to take a wee break midweek to just write a tiny poem. I have dubbed the series as HumpDay Haiku. Although some weeks they might technically be a tanka, senryu, or a micropoem. I have written many haiku, most of which would probably not pass muster with the haiku shoguns, but they give me joy. So I keep trying, hoping that one day I will, like Basho, have that transcendental moment when the frog leaps into the pond.
Incidentally, we are seeing signs of spring though the wind blows and the rain falls from the sky relentlessly. This past weekend I saw a frog hop down our lane. Fortunately, we don’t have a lot of traffic. With so much water around I suspect that we shall be tadpole central shortly. They are welcome to take up residence and keep the slug population under control. I just sowed some early lettuce last week as a good companion to the broad beans. My fondness for broad beans is not so much about their taste as the gorgeous deep purple flowers they sport. It has encouraged me to embrace them as indigenous plant protein that can have its flavour enhanced with a certain culinary imagination.
One can only hope that there is a break in the precipitation so we can set the early potatoes we bought last Sunday, along with some onions and shallots. Would that everyone had a little piece of land where they could grow their own vegetables organically. It would make for much more food security in the world. But we humans have clustered in cities this past century. But even urban spaces can create community gardens and can share wholesome food with those least able to afford them. Gardeners are generous folk and like to share. What corner of this earth could do without more spontaneous gestures of kindness?
In an age when you can get blackberries in the freezer year round, or flown in from Argentina in winter, its little wonder that youngsters (oh, I am sounding so OLD!) have no grasp of what foods are in season locally. We are so reliant on global markets one wonders if COVID-19 will wake us up to the value of providing for ourselves locally and in season. Or, at the very least, appreciate how spoiled for choice we are in winter with imported fruits and vegetables. This time of year was considered the hungry gap by our ancestors. It was why there was such feverish preserving and canning done in August and September, for that time of year when a fruit or vegetable was not to be had otherwise.
Being that I am still deep in re-write mode on the solo poetry collection, I am introducing a little mid-week haiku to relieve my own state of anxiety. Books, it appears, are rather like delivering babies. I have been carrying this project around for more than six months. It is beginning to feel heavy, unwieldy. I am informed that in the eighth or ninth month of pregnancy many women just bark “I want this baby out!” I’m at that stage. I am impatient. My mentor temporises saying “You want your baby to have all its fingers and toes!”
There is also the shadow stuff that rears its ugly head…the ‘am I good enough?’ tape. Then there’s the experience of something akin to imposter syndrome. Call myself a poet?! This is Wobbly Wednesday stuff. Which is all self-indulgence. Then I take myself and the dogs up the lane to the holy well and say a prayer that the work will be good. Publishable good.
In the meantime, here’s something for Hump Day. One for sorrow…there is a lot of that going around in the world. The haiku shoguns will get their knickers in a twist because there is some end rhyme…quite unconsciously done, but there you are! There’s no pleasing some days.
In the midst of some marathon re-writing, cutting and pasting, arranging the sequence of poems for my debut solo poetry collection, I felt the need to haiku.
I have written (and failed to write) many haiku, senryu and tanka in my day. Often when I am busy, but have poetry simmering on the back burner of my brain, haiku is my go-to form to keep my hand in. Then I take a little fun time out illustrating it with Adobe Spark. Or you might call that avoidance activity. Both might be correct assessments. Stirring the creative pot takes many different forms. Either way, it helps keep me going when the neck pain and scrunched over the laptop shoulder hunch are knocking me out.
After the storms, the blink of sunshine that made for some Sunday afternoon gardening and outdoor tea drinking, we now have…
If you want to fill your personal wisdom well, I recommend that you subscribe to Maria Popova’s blog at Brainpickings.com. Today’s quotation was culled from an article on Vincent Van Gogh. Since visual artists and their work have been frequent inspirations for the poems that appeared in the Poetry Daily, it felt appropriate to let a visual artist to get in a word or two.
The dog days of August are nearly upon us, where we will be at the mercy of the barometric pressure and ambient temperature. It’s midweek, Wednesday, day of Woden and Mercury. We have another week of Mercury being retrograde and we can begin to inch forward on projects. The eclipses of July are about to roll out the effects of their causes. The Poetry Daily in closing in on the six weeks to the first anniversary of the poem a day post of what has become The Poetry Daily.
I have two little quotation poems on infographics to sing out the month of the July. The first is from British dramatist David Hare, which includes the title in the quotation. The second first line comes from Irish Nobel literary laureate Samuel Beckett. They have been celebrating him just over the border from us in Enniskillen in their Happy Days Festival.