Saturday, April 5, 2014

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


Okay, friends, it's Day Five today: one-sixth of the way through National Poetry Month and the first weekend. Get to work on your poems, everyone!  

"[W]rite a discovery poem," prompts Robert Lee Brewer today. "The narrator could discover an object, a person, an animal, a dishonorable deed, or any number of things. Poets can focus on the discovery, examine the aftermath, or even just mention it in passing" (Poetic Asides).

"Today I challenge you to write a 'golden shovel,'" urges Maureen Thorson. "This form was invented by Terrance Hayes in his poem, "The Golden Shovel." The last word of each line of Hayes’ poem is a word from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem "We Real Cool." (NaPoWriMo). In her post today, Maureen has more suggestions: for example, writing from other small poems, such as "Watermelons" by Charles Simic.

Okay, taking on both prompts at the same time today. Wish me luck!

Discovery — A Golden Shovel
after Terrance Hayes
and Gwendolyn Brooks
Friends, what can we discover if we
think only about what's real?
Or worse yet, what's cool?

No, no. let's stretch our minds. We
can look beyond right and left.
Forget all we learned at school.

Geometry, civics, chemistry we
detested in high school. There lurk
old bugaboos and heartbreaks. Late

friends, relatives, and enemies we
had forgotten have died. Let's strike
out into perilous wilderness, straight

into rapacious light of the sun we
take for granted every day. Let's sing
of flames and waterfalls, saints and sin.

Seek the exotic, delicate axolotl we
have glimpsed only on the internet. Thin
tall sequoias. Rare Tanqueray Malacca Gin.

Whatever elegance and bright glory we
can chase. Rockabilly and acid jazz
in the voluptuous summer daze of June.

Fiery spaceships. Icarus wax wings. We
need to jump without looking. If we die
we die. Let's live, live, live . . . and soon.

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

Okay, that's my best shot at a "We Real Cool" golden shovel today. I need to live with the poem longer — days, months, a year — and let it simmer. I've been after my student poets lately to eschew the abstract and embrace the concrete, but here I am with lots of abstraction, so not practicing what I preach very well today. Anyway, here's my golden shovel for now. Hope it works well enough for the nonce.

Are you maybe wondering about the axolotl? It's a Mexican salamander that's pretty amazing looking.

Okay, now on to my NaPoWriMo buddy Alan's poem for Day Five. He says, "I'm playing with the non-Greco-Roman mythology idea again, deciding to add another tale of the adventure of Coyote, English adjunct instructor, and dragging Raven into it." All right . . . double tricksters!

Coyote Asks Raven for Assistance
in Grading Freshman Compositions


Coyote, adjunct, teaching comp,
distressed, his essay pile
a week behind, the grading grind
depressing him to tears,
aroused by gentle tapping, stood
to find friend Raven, one
whose confidence in every sense
enthused the Trickster trapped
by rubric, syllabi, and work.
“Oh, Raven, help me, please!”
Coyote cried, “Good friend, to grade
so many essays makes
me fall into despair. How might
I find relief?” His head
cocked to one side as if to view
the matter with clear sight,
coy Raven said, “Give them all A’s,
and no one will complain.”
Coyote thought and then replied,
“Some don’t deserve those grades
and might become through my neglect
school teachers, judges, priests,
physicians, university
administrators—no!”
Friend Raven then suggested fire.
“No good!” Coyote yelped.
“They turned them in by Internet;
I could recover files.”
“Then line them on the sidewalk. I
will flap my wings, and those
that do not move deserve the A’s
because they’ll have more weight.”
Coyote found no flaw and lined
the essays on the ground,
and Raven’s wings beat hard to blow
them far away. “Stop! Stop!”
Coyote cried. “I’ll never find
them, blown away! I have
to print the batch and start again
to get my work done right.
I was a fool to follow your
advice.” “Indeed, you were,”
replied his friend, who flew beyond
Coyote’s reach and cawed
at compositions, good and bad.

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

Excellent poem again, Alan. Reminds me of the old joke among composition teachers of throwing essays you're grading down some stairs: the further an essay falls the higher the grade because obviously that essay has some substance.      You could even label each step with a grade, starting with A at the bottom step.

I also appreciate how Raven and Coyote hearken back to Native American trickster mythologies. And the subtle connection with Poe is fun too. I thought Raven would say "Nevermore" at some point!


Friends, won't you comment, please? I'd particularly like to hear what you think of my golden shovel. Or what your own ventures have been with this form. Alan would love to get some feedback on Coyote and being an adjunct college instructor. To 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" and click on the word "comments."

Ingat, friends — take good care.  


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


1 comment:

Thomas Alan Holmes said...

I was tempted to offer "Nevermore" in this one, somewhere, but I thought that "gently tapping" would be a more fun allusion to Poe.

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