Day Twenty-Three. I don't know what to say about 23. I think last year I pointed to that surreal Jim Carrey movie, The Number 23. Year before that, I pointed out that 4/23 is Shakespeare's birthday . . . that's pretty cool. Okay, on to the prompts.
Robert Lee Brewer's PAD prompt: "write a historic poem. It could be a poem about a landmark event, specific battle, an era in time, or whatever you consider a historic happening."
Maureen Thorson's NaPoWriMo prompt: "Today, I challenge you to take a chance, literally. Find a deck of cards (regular playing cards, tarot cards, uno cards, cards from your Cards Against Humanity deck – whatever), shuffle it, and take a card — any card! Now, begin free-writing based on the card you’ve chosen. Keep going without stopping for five minutes. Then take what you’ve written and make a poem from it."
A couple of years ago, Kathy gave me an "Authors Card Game," which you can see in the photo below. The card I happened to choose at random was Washington Irving, author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle" — two of my most beloved stories as a child.
I gotta say, though, I had hoped for Nathaniel Hawthorne (really, I wanted Herman Melville but he's not one of the authors sanctified by this deck). I thought I could write a historic poem about the moment when Hawthorne and Melville first met. Hawthorne wrote his wife that Melville was "rather heterodox by way of linen"; I’ve never forgotten that phrasing, which meant, I'm pretty sure, that Melville could have changed his underwear more often. Of course Hawthorne could only have known that by sense of smell, I would guess, so Melville’s underwear must have been pretty ripe.
I also wished I had drawn Louisa May Alcott, the only woman in the deck, pretty surprising for a game from the late 1980s. Did we learn nothing from the Equal Rights movement? I also kinda hoped for Shakespeare, simply because it's his birthday today, and he would be a half millennium old if he were still kicking. Well, I’m not sure he’s not kicking, though he’s probably nothing but bone fragments by now, if that. Sir Walter Scott would have been a good draw too because as a child I loved Ivanhoe almost as much as "Sleepy Hollow." Well, maybe more, actually. You gotta love good swordplay in a story. There’s only bowling — nine-pins — in "Rip Van Winkle" and crazy horse riding in "Sleepy Hollow."
There would have been plenty of possibilities for a historic poem with those writers, other than Irving. (By the way, those author cards are depicted in the photo
Anyhow, Washington Irving was the card I drew and so Washington Irving it is. Here we go.
The Birth of the American Short Story
Irving never admitted that Captain Ichabod Crane was the namesake for his hero in "Sleepy Hollow." An anti-hero, actually, because Irving's character was no soldier. The real-life Ichabod Crane served almost 50 years in the American military, both the Marines and the Army, and died while still on active duty as a Colonel. I surmise that while the bookish schoolteacher inherited the Captain's name, perhaps the Captain's personality might have been the model for the schoolteacher's rowdy competitor for Katrina Van Tassel's hand. That's the premise for my poem, anyway.
Incidentally, Colonel Ichabod Crane was the great-uncle of Stephen Crane, author of The Red Badge of Courage. Since his great-uncle would have been well-known as a soldier in the Crane family, the younger Crane's novel was surely influenced in some way — even if negatively — by the storied military career of his great-uncle. The protagonist of Red Badge is himself also an anti-hero, not at all like the Colonel, who served and fought in four wars.
Moving on to Alan's poem for today
Four of Cups
Here's that very card. Alan, I like how you drew the card not today but almost 20 years ago. Good play with the prompt.
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