The day job has sadly got in the way of my efforts on the poetry front for this month but I'm back for today's prompt from Greg Santos. He provided 4 prompts and I chose the first, Dialogue with Ghosts, which requires you to 'find an audio recording of a dead poet or musician. Play the recording. Start writing words that jump in your head, lines of your own. Write a 10-14 line poem using the words you jotted down, either in response to the original poem/song or a completely new piece'.
I chose a recording of TS Eliot reading The Hollow Men. (There was another clip on YouTube with a reading but the music added as background was particularly annoying). I have never read or heard this poem before and here is my response:
No more than scarecrows crucified in the arid wastes
we stand, a shadow army,
husks of humanity close to the void
although our voices are but rippling murmurs,
a sentinel song drifting unheeded
past the hanged man, the gallows man
staring with dreamless eyes into the abyss
the Forlorn Hope, leading the way to oblivion,
to the long and starless night
And we wait
For Hell’s conscription papers
… conscientious objections not optional
Interesting prompt from Daniel Levin Becker today at FPR introducing a new poetic form.
'The récapitul is a fixed poetic form created by Jacques Jouet in 2010. Its fully fledged form is a little long for our purposes,* so we’ll use its truncated version, the petit récapitul portatif:
1. The poem consists of 10 lines total, in a 3-3-3-1 stanza distribution.
2. Each line is 9 syllables long. No meter is required.
3. The lines do not rhyme.
4. After each three-line stanza comes a list, in parentheses, of three words taken from one of each of the lines in the preceding stanza.
5. The poem is dated and addressed to a specific person (someone you know or someone you don’t).
Here’s how we’ll use it:
6. This link will direct you to a Wikipedia article in English, chosen at random. (You can also click on the fifth link down on the lefthand toolbar of any article.)
7. The first line in your poem will correspond to the first random article you see, the second to the second, and so on for all ten lines.
7a. You may replace up to two of your random articles with either a new random article or an article one click away from the original.
8. You may interpret “correspond to” however you choose. You can quote the article, paraphrase it, comment on it, take impressionistic inspiration from it, or what have you.
9. You may open ten random articles at once and plan out the content of your PRP, though still observing the order in which you opened them; you may also complete each line of the poem before allowing yourself to open the next article.
10. If you so choose, hyperlink each line—or the list word taken from it—to the corresponding article.'
And here is my poem - do not ask me why I chose this man, he just seemed to fit.
23 April 2016
for Donald Trump
Pursual of love, captured on film
governed by a republican spirit
their courtship an ice-carved tango
(pursual, spirit, courtship)
Existence was one season's blink
commanded by the King of Heavens
As villains crawled from sin-filled sewers
(existence, kings, sewers)
Propagation of understanding
Stone sluiced in cherry laurel water
damns every citizen with its poison
(propagation, stone, damn)
a spiritual awakening
Having missed 20 (not enough time) and 21 (confused me), I tried to get back into National Poetry Month with #22 brought by Nick Montfort. This prompt was to create a poem from a computer program but unfortunately the instructions given resulted in error messages, not just for me but for others also. However, in keeping with the theme, and bearing in mind my failure, I have created a response crafted purely from HTTP status codes to reflect my experience:
523 Origin is unreachable
417 Expectation failed
300 Multiple choices
449 Retry with
400 Bad Request
226 IM Used
Today's prompt from Michael Leong was much more general in tone than previous challenges; his basic instruction was 'all you need is to find a source text and invent a method of transforming, altering, or changing it'.
I chose three poems which are being studied by the KS4 students I support in school and extracted certain elements from each:
Morning Song by Sylvia Plath - nouns
Punishment by Seamus Heaney - verbs
What Were They Like? by Denise Levertov - adjectives
This is the result:
Exposed in the quiet light
I am become a statue, numbered in stone
Weeping at my bitter watch
As I drown beneath a sea of stars
I am the flame that burns moths
In revenge for a mother’s silence,
The betraying rose, reflected bones
Conniving at the darkened mirror
And my hand shakes, feeling for the bed
From which my shadow was dug
The charred museum
The ivory echo
That cast me among the elements.
Today's prompt came from Amaranth Borsuk. I tried The Deletionist to create an erasure poem from online text in a browser but it did not come up with anything interesting so I moved onto her Dictionary Assist prompt:
I chose weird, not that it vexes me much but I do get the e and i the wrong way round on occasion, this is one of those words that always makes me pause. (I'm sure everybody has a few in their vocabulary). Its Indo European root is wer, originally meaning to turn or bend. This is my poem:
I am your destiny, a rhapsody of relentless fate forced upon men believing themselves free.
I am the worm that crawls neural pathways, deflecting impulses, sparking the inevitable.
As the bough bends before the wind, so you bend before me. Will you break? You who are not oak but pine, bemoan bad luck as you snag yourself on my briars.
Mewling child, you are not worth my attention but I will not cede you freewill. Control is all.
My sisters and I delight in wyrd.
We gift you our sacred foliage, weave and sew the holy verbena into your lifeline.
We laugh to see you cornered, wrathful, compelled beyond reason to unthinking action.
Rejoice in your torment.
You are condemned to our care forever.
These prompts are demanding more of my time than I have available but I'll still give it a go, even if the result is somewhat shorter than the efforts of others.
Today's prompt came from Jeff Griffin
I chose a few poems of Ben Jonson's from his Selected Poetry (Penguin Poetry Classics) rather than a whole book due to time constraints. The block of text before translation was like this:
Fetter me I wear not these my wings in vain when love is fled art reverenced the while where pan and bacchus their high feasts have made all the muses met ruddy satyrs willing to be killed bright eels that emulate them no man’s groan the clown ripe daughters gluttony envy shine bright on every hearth their gentler spirits have sucked innocence those proud ambitious heaps art no ambitious guest the hogs returned home fat from mast the rout of rural folk meet the cannon’s rage and so they ride in purple thou may thinkst life a thing but leant
I then put it through German, French, Slovak, Welsh and Latin translations, resulting in:
Keep me, that, if it is not a vain desire to flee, and stealing, and the wings of the arts, Liber, and Pan, O Lord, that all aspects of his own powers to the goat idols, consider the eels and the white becoming red, and not worthy to be put to death, and not with grief: for all the people in the game, and the maids in the house of your gluttony, envy, and the garments, the intake of the liquid, it is difficult for you are too ambitious, the proud man there is no smaller in the rural innocence of a heap of to the house of the people, that I may beat, the flute, and lead and tin, in anger, and in a pillar of purple, and bacon, it can be a little mean, but apart, spread of
I then selected various aspects of the translated version and produced my poem:
The Rise of Envy
Keep me – if it is not a vain desire
From stealing the wings of the arts
From Liber and Pan
Aspects of envy, white becoming red
Meet with grief
And we are not worthy
To be put to death
But you, ambitious, proud
Of the House of the People
Though small in rural innocence
You, rise to the top of the heap
Beat lead and tin in anger
And your garments,
A pillar of purple,
Cut from the cloth of gluttony
Are spread apart
iAn unusual prompt today from Christian Bok at FPR.
USE A TEXT TO DRAW A FIELD OF STARS.
, = •
. = ✦
; = ✹
: = ★
-- = ☉
As I was unable to access a physical textbook, I obtained a digital copy of Aristotle's On the Heavens and used the first paragraph of Book IV. I also deviated slightly on the sizing as by the time I got to the instruction about altering the sizing I had deleted the words!
Here is my image On The Heavens IV
Joel Katelnikoff created today's impromptu at FPR.
Love What You HateIn this technological era of direct textual manipulation, we must always acknowledge our own agency as readers. If we hate a text, we may no longer blame the text. Instead, evaluate the text with a particular eye for discovering, within it, that which you can love. Because the thing has not failed you. Rather, you have failed.
The one book I have loathed for many a year is Ernest Hemingway's, The Old Man and the Sea. I had to study this novella for 2 years for my English O-level (I managed an A grade) and I found it mind-numbingly boring. Either way I have read the instructions and obeyed and here is my poem:
Lions on the Beach
The sweet blood smell
whore, you are killing me,
you have a right to
your clicking, thrusting all-swallowing jaws
struck like a whiplash
as I dreamed of the lions on the beach
A man is not made for defeat
Make a dream you’ve killed a man
Or dream about the lions on the beach.
This was today's prompt from Brian Oliu:
'Set aside about twenty minutes of your day with the intention of “doing research” for a piece. Do not allow yourself to write about anything that you do not experience firsthand: if you are writing about the feel of water, or the taste of an orange, run your hand underneath the sink or get to the supermarket as soon as possible. Allow yourself to be immersed in your project & only trust “first hand research” instead of cobbling things together from various sources/the Internet–it will be there later for second drafts. If you are writing about a scene in a movie, watch that scene. If you are writing about a trip that you took, try your best to replicate that trip to the best of your abilities. Take notes, but don’t let the notes dictate your experience. After you have concluded your “research” begin writing immediately & without prejudice–don’t stop, don’t worry about linebreaks or punctuation, or word choice: capture whatever fleeting magic you have conjured until the feeling is gone.'
I came late to this prompt so 20 mins was a bit of an ask in an very full day; I worked around it by basing my poem on part of a lesson when I was supporting a new student in class.
I do not know this student
As I translate teacher speak
Into something he can understand
Against a backdrop of loud music,
Chatter and table-top drumming
We watch each other,
He, wary at first, I worrying
Trying to assess if my efforts
Have been sufficient
But he smiles and writes
And I have my answer
This was Sennah Yee's directive today at FPR:
Travel websites have always intrigued me with their language—visual, lush, and sometimes a bit dramatic and naive.
Browse travel websites and write down any words/phrases that interest you: descriptions and/or customer reviews of resorts, landmarks, attractions, hotels, restaurants, etc.
Craft a poem using only these words/phrases. You may arrange them in any way you wish.'
One of my dreams is to one day travel around Scandinavia, see the Northern Lights, indulge my interest of Norse history and mythology; perhaps it is because I have traced my own ancestors back to the Normans and from there to various Scandinavian countries. Today I went on a virtual tour of Iceland, Sweden and Norway to come up with my response to the prompt.
The shimmering curtain
transforms into spirit
Aurora’s coil of fire
carve black lava burials
from stacked stone
in luminous light
his funeral pyre
a tectonic tearing
of a shield-walled soul
A writer - I think that says it all.