Wednesday, April 1, 2020

National Poetry Month / NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2020


Friends, welcome to a new National Poetry Month! I'm very glad this month to have my old friend, the esteemed poet Thomas Alan Holmes, writing poems with me for NaPoWriMo and Poem-a-Day. We've had a few years where the exigencies of life and work have kept us too busy. But this year, the coronavirus pandemic is keeping us sheltering at home, so why not write a few poems? Welcome back, Alan!

To new readers, we look at the daily April prompts put out by Maureen Thorson at NaPoWriMo.net and Robert Lee Brewer in his blog Poetic Asides and write a poem inspired by one or both of the prompts. If that is not working, we may "go rogue," as Alan puts it, writing a poem in our own direction and discretion. Okay, here goes:

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt for Day One: “write a new world poem. There are new worlds and there are new worlds. You could write a poem about discovery of an actual planet. Or maybe your new world is actually a state of mind.”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo first-day prompt: “write a self-portrait poem in which you make a specific action a metaphor for your life – one that typically isn’t done all that often, or only in specific circumstances. For example, bowling, or shopping for socks, or shoveling snow, or teaching a child to tie its shoes.”


Banner from NaPoWriMo.net

My poem today follows both prompts, using the fib poetic form, based on the Fibonacci sequence — 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 — where each number is the sum of the previous two. In this particular poem, the number of syllables in each line follow Fibonacci, winding up and then winding down and then up, in succession. Trigger warning: it's political.

Mastication

Since
we
all were
one year old,
each and every one
of us has done this without fail.

We have all eaten spaghetti
and meatballs, chicken
and noodles,
jello,
grapes,
bread.

Each
day
we all
had to do
one basic thing: chew.
Flex our jaws and gnash, grind our teeth.

      Friends, that's the way we've moved through life:
chewed kindergarten,
grade school and
high school,
work,
love.

Chew,
chew,
and chew
some more. Chew
beautiful sunsets,
both stormy and calm ocean waves.

For me the deaths of my parents,
the slow departures
of lovers,
heartbreaks
and
hope.

But
these
days of
black bird masks,
we're asked to chew more,
much more. Now we have to chew

Washington, the orange White House,
coronavirus
briefings full
of dumb
non-
facts,

chewed
up,
barfed out,
pure nonsense,
from a third grader
who is 73 years old.

In November, let's keep in mind
his non-brave new world,
chew, chew, chew,
and spit
him
out.
—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Alan's poem also follows both prompts with a Petrarchan sonnet.

Distancing

I open up the blinds and see the hill
outside the basement bedroom, working where
my older son slept as a teen. I stare
into a screen, my classroom now, and will
begin to explicate some texts. I still,
days into these first weeks of working here
and not my office, not the classrooms there
on that abandoned campus, try to fill
this work with care and meaning. I have lost
some undergraduates some weeks before
pandemic protocol. I didn’t reach
them soon enough, and their tuition cost
them not so much that schoolwork mattered more
than anything they thought I could not teach.

—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Thanks for reading, friends. Happy National Poetry month and stay well.

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word “comments” in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Day 30 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2019


Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “I’d like you to try your hand at a minimalist poem. What’s that? Well, a poem that is quite short, and that doesn’t really try to tell a story, but to quickly and simply capture an image or emotion. Haiku are probably the most familiar and traditional form of minimalist poetry, but there are plenty of very short poems out there that do not use the haiku form. There’s even an extreme style of minimalism in the form of one-word and other “highly compressed” poems. You don’t have to go that far, but you might think of your own poem for the day as a form of gesture drawing. Perhaps you might start from a concrete noun with a lot of sensory connotations, like ‘Butter’ or ‘Sandpaper,’ or ‘Raindrop’ and — quickly, lightly — go from there.”

Given that today is the last day, Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt is a perfect Two for Tuesday: “a stop poem” and/or “a don’t stop poem.”

In merging these two prompts, I've realized that I haven't written a hay(na)ku all month. So here goes:

The End?

Stop.
Wait, what?
Don't stop? Uh . . .

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]


Thanks for reading, friends! It's been a great National Poetry Month. Keep the faith!


Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word “comments” in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Monday, April 29, 2019

Day 29 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2019


Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to . . . produc[e] a poem that meditates, from a position of tranquility, on an emotion you have felt powerfully.”

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “For today’s prompt, take the phrase ‘(blank) Again,’ replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then write your poem. Possible titles include: ‘Here We Go Again,’ ‘On the Road Again,’ ‘Stumped on What to Write Again,’ and ‘Doing the Wrong Thing Again.’ ”

Tonight, I’m doing a solo show, called “The Groove and the Cool,” at the Octopus on College Hill (a Cedar Falls bar), 8-10pm. This will be a poetry reading from my new book, The Coolest Month, and a music show, with me singing classic rock covers and playing guitar. Although I’ve played in bands and duos for decades, I’ve never done a solo show before, especially singing.


        Flyer by Jim O'Loughlin, publisher of Final Thursday Press

Today’s poem is connected to tonight’s show, about the long gap in time between when, as a teenager, I was a frontman in rock bands, lead singer and lead guitar, and now, feeling like a rookie again. I'm reminded of the ’70s song by Bob Seger, “Turn the Page” . . . or at least the feeling of that song, the loneliness and wistfulness of being a rock & roll musician. Not that I’ve experienced that exact emotion, not having been a touring musician, but I’ve certainly had that feeling of not being sure how authentic one really is, “playing star again,” as Seder’s lyric goes. And looking ahead to tonight’s show, I’m feeling that emotion strongly.

Playing Star Again

I think back to playing guitar and singing covers
in dance bands, some 50 years ago, teenage dancers
and hangers-on crowding the stage. Bob Seger sang,
“Out there in the spotlight you’re a million miles away,”

and I recall that feeling precisely, the slight buzz
of the amplifiers an undertone to the band’s groove,
booming bass guitar below the shimmer and snap of cymbals
and snare, and you riding that glimmering wave of sound,

your voice surfing like a silver alien toward some horizon
inside the mind, somewhere deep within. That’s why we
do this, for those brief moments when you lose yourself
in that deep wave that’s both outside you and inside you.

Everyone in the place can feel it, locking into the wave,
all swept together somewhere else, to some distant star,
all riding together like a whole city in a spaceship,
in the invisible metallic vessel of a lone guitar chord.

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

See you at the show tonight?

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word “comments” in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Day 28 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2019


Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “I’d like to challenge you to try your hand at a meta-poem,” which she had defined earlier in the post: “meta-poems . . . are poems about poems.”

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “For today’s prompt, write a remix poem. That is, remix one of your poems from earlier in the month. There are many ways to do this. Turn a free verse poem into a traditional form (using lines from the original poem). Or use erasure to cut down a long poem into a short one. Or expand a short poem into a longer version. Get creative with it.”

Merging the prompts again. I looked through my poems this month and found my haiku inspired by a Salvador Dalí sketch on April 21 a likely candidate for a golden shovel poem. A potential problem with golden shovels is that sometimes you get a weak line break with function words like articles or conjunctions . . . I tried to find a solution for that in this poem. Here we go . . .

How to Write a Surreal Ekphrastic Haiku
a golden shovel of
my April 21 haiku
First, you must begin with Salvador Dalí’s blue
period. Wait, that was Picasso. Dalí’s elephant
period, then. Kind of true, actually. Dali floats
many odd, whimsical, Byzantine creatures across
our eyes. You must make a common word like “the”
into a storm of rainbow-hued bees. The crystal sky
of your haiku must be a shimmery canvas: spindly
dragonflies darting like miniature arrows, myriad legs
of a centipede scurrying up the side of a skyscraper.
A haiku small as a flea, but galactically huge and tall.

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]


Detail, Butterfly Suite by Salvador Dalí (lithograph, 1969)

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Ingat, everyone.   


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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Day 27 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2019


Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “I’d like to challenge you to ‘remix’ a Shakespearean sonnet. . . . You can pick a line you like and use it as the genesis for a new poem. Or make a ‘word bank’ out of a sonnet, and try to build a new poem using the same words (or mostly the same words) as are in the poem. Or you could try to write a new poem that expresses the same idea as one of Shakespeare’s sonnets.”

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “For today’s prompt, pick a direction, make that the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. There are so many directions: north, south, up, down, left, right, over, under, etc. But there are also more specific directions like ‘Across the Way,’ ‘Through the Woods,’ and ‘Beyond the Clearing.’ Or give directions like ‘Clean Your Room,’ ‘Tie Your Shoes,’ or ‘Get Over Here.’ ”

Merging both prompts as usual with a golden shovel riffing on Shakespeare’s (in)famous send-up of romantic conventions on how to describe one's love in Sonnet 130. The golden shovel is a poetic form invented by Terrance Hayes; his poem “The Golden Shovel” riffed on Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool” by using the words of her poem as the endings of lines in his poem, in order. Actually Hayes’s poem does this twice with Brooks’s text! Many poets have imitated Hayes and thus the golden shovel form was born.

My inspiration was today’s snow . . . snow! I notice that my language in this poem is different, perhaps because I am being influenced by Shakespeare's expression. I'm not trying to be particularly Shakespeare-like, but definitely there's an atypical feel to my writing here.

From the North, She Cackles
a golden shovel concocted
from the opening line of
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130
Ye gods, I cannot even believe my
eyes: Lady Winter in her harsh mistress’
role has returned and contemptuously eyes
us with sardonic humor. Snow clouds are
spitting out flakes today and nothing
of spring seems to remain, just like
an assassin dusting off a victim. The
Ice Dominatrix has slain Apollo the Sun!

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]


Snow photo I took today . . . late April!

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Ingat, everyone.   

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