Sunday, April 13, 2014

Day 13 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2014


Too bad today isn't a Friday for Day Thirteen. Unlike those afflicted with triskaidekaphobia, I find the idea of Friday the 13th strangely attractive. Since today is Sunday, anyone know what year we'll have a Friday the 13th in April? Comment below if you know. In the meantime, here are the two "official" prompts for this April 13.

Maureen Thorson: "Our optional prompt for today is to write a poem that contains at least one kenning. Kennings were metaphorical phrases developed in Nordic sagas. At their simplest, they generally consist of two nouns joined together, which imaginatively describe or name a third thing. The phrase 'whale road,' for example, could be used instead of 'sea' or 'ocean,' and 'sky candle' could be used for 'sun.' The kennings used in Nordic sagas eventually got so complex that you basically needed a decoder-ring to figure them out. And Vikings being Vikings, there tended to be an awful lot of kennings for swords, warriors, ships, and gold. But at their best, they are suprising and evocative" (NaPoWriMo).

Robert Lee Brewer: "For today’s prompt, write an animal poem. Pick a specific animal or write about your animal spirit. Maybe you'll get tricky and write about mustangs (meaning the car) or jaguars (meaning the American football team). Maybe you’ll do an acrostic, or even go crazy and write a sestina (crickets)" (Poetic Asides).

Well, here we go. Pretty easy to mash-up these two prompts. And as you might know, I love dragons. I've also found a way to have fun with sestina-making today, I think. A technique borrowed from my former student Nathan Dahlhauser, who wrote a sestina sestina sestina in a poetry class a couple of years back. Thanks, Nathan! Thanks also to my girlfriend Kathy . . . I gave her a convoluted explanation today of how the end words of a sestina recycle; that got me to thinking about how the recycling could be made easier.

Dragon Sestina

What could be more optimal for a Dragon
Sestina than using the word "dragon"
as an end word? All six end words could be "dragon,"
in fact. That way there'd be no drag in
having to sort out when you'd need "dragon"
again, 'cause every time you'd put in "dragon."

Yup, dragon.
Then dragon.
Then, uh-huh . . . dragon
again. But given today's prompts, you'd have to drag in
a kenning or two, right? For example, a dragon
kenning might be "fire worm." But that's a familiar dragon

image already, from ancient days. A new kenning for dragon
might be "reptile flame-thrower." But that dragon
just might be too moderne. Violating the traditional dragon
mystique. You could allude to the constellation Draco
by kenning "multi-double-eye snake" because Mu Draconis
is a binary star in that system, along with Nu Draconis

and Omicron Draconis and several others. Some Draco
stars, in fact, are actually triplets. Because of the Draconids
meteor shower every October, "stone-rain dragon"
could be another kenning. Is it too draconian,
do you think, to insist on repeating "dragon"?
Are you, dear reader, getting tired of hearing "dragon"

so often? Would it stretch credulity to hear "dragon"
right now? For me, it isn't yet a drag, and
we're still having fun, right? We're not dragging
our feet yet, thinking, "Oh jeez, here comes 'dragon'
again." In reference to military history, "dragoon"
might give us a little break from the word "dragon."

Another variation might be the name Count Dracula
taken on by Vlad the Impaler when he became a Dragon,
or more precisely was invested in The Order of the Dragon.
The kenning then might be "blood-gulper son-of-a-dragon,"
the literal technical meaning of the word "Dracula,"
not the blood part but the bit about sons and dragons.

Dragon sestina about done. Should we avoid dragging on
by saying "dragon dragon dragon" now or does "dragon"
need sestina'd with respect? Nah. Dragon dragon dragon.

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

I'm pretty proud of getting "dragon" or some variation of the word in here 46 times — 7 more than the customary 39 occurrences of end words in a sestina. Hope you enjoyed that.


And now on to Dr. Thomas Alan Holmes's poem for the day. "I attended a poetry reading today," says Alan, "sponsored by the Bristol Public Library and featuring three Appalachian poets that I know. About thirty people attended, aside from the readers and library staff, and it was pleasant to be among talented friends appreciated for their creative efforts. It was especially good, in this time of working to keep our poem-a-day vow, to hear how other people benefit from writing and sharing poetry."

Sounding

Suppose sometimes a prankster, desperate
for one last jab, decides, his time at hand,
to stand with equanimity waist deep
and dies at peace, aware that everyone
he knows will face interrogation; how
he laughs his breath away, his dropping splash
the final earthly sound he ever hears.

Beneath the Gay Street Bridge, that floating man
has drifted with the river current, wedged
against a bridge abutment, held in place,
perhaps, by detritus unseen, submerged
beneath the oily, earth-toned, sluggish flow.

The medical examiner will file
reports, recording indications, clues,
and findings. Was he robbed and killed? Who might
he be? Might he have drowned? Whom do we tell?

And I, of all our friends, have figured out
what he has done, his “gotcha” prank, but I
decide to keep the secret to myself,
to keep resentment from their loving grief.
If I’m complicit, I confess it here.

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

Interesting to me here, Alan, how the dying man's final wish is honored, a prank piled upon a prank. Great poem!


Won't you comment, friends, please? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment; if you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince and click on the word comments.

Ingat, everyone.  


POEM-A-DAY 2014 • 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


3 comments:

Bruce Niedt said...

Pretty cool, Vince - I like how it plays with the repeated word concept of the sestina, which can sound awfully redundant if not done well. Some of my favorite sestinas have unusual "end words", like "Sestina for Your Dead Heart" by Gregory Sherl, which uses "Sony Walkman" as an end phrase, James Cummins' "Sestina" which uses "Gary Snyder", and "The One Where the Cake Ignites" by Jon Stone, where the end words are the names of the six characters from the TV series "Friends".

Vince Gotera said...

Thanks, Bruce. Do you know James Cummins's collection of sestinas based on the Perry Mason show?

Somerset Wedding Girl said...

That dragon poem is certainly a spark of genius, I don't how you managed to get it in there so many times and still write a poem that made sense, great stuff!

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