Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 12 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day


Happy dozen, friends. Hope National Poetry Month is being good to you. And now to the prompts . . .

Today, Maureen Thorson suggests: "try finding a short poem in another language (one you don’t already know!) and translating it homophonically" — "a translation based on the way the words sound, without any care for what they actually mean in the original." I've known this process under the form name translitic. Maureen continues, "Just cut and paste a poem into your text editor (ignoring the English translations that the site provides) and go to town!"

At Poetic Asides, Robert Lee Brewer's prompt is: "take the phrase 'Something (blank),' replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Example titles might include: 'Something New,' 'Something Strange,' 'Something at the End of This Book,' or 'Something Something.'"

Prompts sound promising, don't they. Something. Something. Dulce et decorum est. Dull, so eat the corn, hmm? Missed. Fought with this all day. Nothing. Doldrums. Dog days. Sargasso. Prompts not much help.

Evidently Catherine had similar problems today. When she messaged me the following poem, she said, "I think I'm running out of steam. Do with this what you will (including nothing at all). Hope your poem is coming along alright."

Abnormal

None of the things that always make her laugh
served as we marked the hours to her appointment
one mile at a time. No sarcastic remarks about girls
in her class, the ones we call “Cheetahs,”
not the offer to trade my Lucinda Williams
for her Lady Gaga, not even my most obnoxious
impression of Olivia Newton John’s
“You’re the One that I Want”
summoned the dimple in her right cheek,
Instead tears painted her bronze eyes
As dark as the coffee I’d been nursing
for eighty miles, and she wondered
how anyone could set right her spine
its curve like a displaced smile.

—Draft by Catherine Pritchard Childress     [do not copy or quote ... thanks]

Actually, I think this is better than Catherine thinks it is. It certainly speaks to me as a parent loud and clear and true. (If this isn't fictional, by the way, I hope the appointment went well and that the dimple's back in her cheek, though of course this is none of my business as your reader.)

Thanks for the good wishes about my poem coming along alright, Catherine. I don't know, though. Here's my best shot for the day. When in doubt, write about the block. Attack the block.

writer’s block

gap
between blank
paper and nirvana

brow
sweats red
screen still blank

no
good no
good no good

squint
pen skritch
fingers click keys

paralyzed
no help
search empty sky

wingbeat
falcon yes
heaven sent gift

muse
pomegranate seed
universe universe universe

come
to me
come to me

mirage
oasis parched
wingbeat gone fled

empty
sky horizon
dry huge empty

sysyphus
roll boulder
uphill cracked mud

lexicon
fancy words
swirling dance moves

jazz
thump thunder
slap and pop

meh
boulder stuck
no goddamn help

one
two three
four five stuck

bulosan
brother poet
where are you

bulosan
bring me
water bright sustenance

light
lightning flash
thunder flood water

ocean
surging wave
wash over me

bulosan
wash away
mud cement inertia

cheetahs
lady gaga
olivia newton john

no
no good
no damn good

don’t
force it
zen zen zen

om
om mani
padme hum poser

stare
at paper
paper stares back

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

On a happier note, I'm glad and honored to feature a blog with an "in-your-face" title: I Hate Poetry: The New Buddah Moskowitz Archive. Check it out. El Moskowitz may hate poetry but he speaks loud and clear and true. (I don't think he hates poetry. Do you?) Check out his fascinating schtuff and let me know.


Oh, incidentally, my poem above is in a form for which I am godfather, ninong: the hay(na)ku form. Tercet . . . first line, one word / second line, two words / third line, three words. Brilliantly simple. Eileen Tabios invented this form and at first called it something like a Filipino Haiku. I was the one who eventually named it "hay(na)ku." A pun on the Filipino "ay naku," which is something like "oh my god" or even "oh my gosh" — for example, like "not that again." Untranslatable, really, but nonetheless a very common human feeling. My idea for the name was to disassemble the word "haiku" and reconstitute it as a Filipino saying. Although Eileen's inventing and my baptizing happened almost eight years ago, this is my first attempt at hay(na)ku. Why don't you try it too. I think you'll discover as I did tonight that the hay(na)ku has its own music and spirit that will shape your poem in intriguing ways new to you. For more, see the blog HAY(NA)KU POETRY run by Eileen Tabios.

Okay, friends, here's to hoping for a more productive visit from the muse(s) tomorrow. Day 13. Ay naku, that's Friday the 13th! Don't let any black cats cross your path. Just to be safe, how about commenting below? Good for the old karma. Ingat.


POEM-A-DAY 2012 • Pick a day in April: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


4 comments:

Andrea Boltwood said...

What a fun post – homophonic translation, hay(na)ku, and one of my favorite poets – Buddah Moskowitz. I love your hay(na)ku and can’t wait to try it!

aprille said...

You were looking over my shoulder, weren't you:-)
And saw the waste basket full of crumpled paper,
and me getting up at 2 am this morning to try again.
Aah, anguish beautifully contained within terse lines.
May we both recuperate fully.

Vince Gotera said...

Give it to your students as a prompt! (The form's not "mine" ... I was not the parent, just the godparent.)

By the way, today our feature of your blog goes up. I'm just waiting for Catherine's poem to show up. Mine is done.

Vince Gotera said...

I wasn't looking over your shoulder. Honestly! It's just that writer's block is such a common experience. Do you know what the American poet William Stafford used to say? If you're having writer's block, lower your standards. If you're still having writer's block, lower them some more. On and on. Very sensible. Hope you're well, Aprille. I've tried to contact Anne Montgomery ... waiting for a reply. Thanks for the tip!

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