Saturday, April 30, 2016

Day 30 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2016


Last day of National Poetry Month. Sad. But also glad about all the poems. The full complement of 30 for me!

Here's a little meme to post in your social media sites to celebrate. You can see this image larger by clicking on it, but unfortunately you won't be able to share from there. However, you can find a share-able version in my facebook from three years ago.

Robert Lee Brewer’s PAD prompt: "For today’s prompt, write a dead end poem. Of course, I was thinking in terms of the challenge, but a dead end can literally mean the end of a person’s life, a dead end road, a dead end job, dead end mortgage, and so on. Take the phrase 'dead end' and apply it to a noun, and the possibilities are nearly endless (except, well, there’s the whole 'dead end' finality to it, I suppose)."

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "Because we’ve spent our month looking at poets in English translation, today I’d like you to try your hand at a translation of your own. If you know a foreign language, you could take a crack at translating a poem by a poet writing in that language. If you don’t know a foreign language, or are up for a different kind of challenge, you could try a homophonic translation. Simply find a poem (or other text) in a language you don’t know, and then 'translate' it based on the look or sound of the words." This "translation" poem form is also called a translitic.

Thank you VERY much to Maureen Thorson and to Robert Lee Brewer for a great NaPoWriMo and Poem-a-Day once again!



Here is Jed's "translation" poem. See if you can figure out what he's doing rhyme- and meter-wise.

Lost In . . .

Human behavior is a poetry
Of sorts, packed with hidden implication;
A delicate dance, gradually evolved
Over each life, and all of history.
Her forlorn sigh can be inspiration
Enough to tell him he’ll never be loved
By her. Learn to hear the message wrapped in
Silences. The science of emotion
Is really art. The meaning of a pause
Had better be received, though. It’s a sin
If you make a faulty calculation;
If you don’t match the rhyme, it’s defiance.

Humans know you understand, even when
You don’t. Ignorance will never excuse
Not knowing the rules laid down by their hand.
Well, madmen and children are forgiven
By some. But you have everything to lose
If you show that you sometimes understand.
They’ll think your mistakes were calculated
To throw them in disarray. All you say
Wrong will be taken not as error but
As anger, mockery; they’ll think you led
The dance astray through malice. “You can play
The game. Why won’t you?”
And then you’re shut out.

—Draft by Jedediah Kurth    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Here's what Jed wrote me about the poem: "So it's more metaphorically about translation than a literal attempt at translating something. My ASL isn't really fluent enough for me to do a good interpretation of ASL poetry . . . And I really wanted to do a fun, 10-syllable, ABC-ABC rhyming poem for the last day, not an approximation of something that wouldn't fit well into English."

Did you get all that? The poem's in pentameter, first of all. And Jed's using normative rhyme: each set of three lines rhymes with the next set of three lines . . .
line 1 - poetry
line 2 - implication       
line 3 - evolved
line 4 - history
line 5 - inspiration
line 6 - loved
. . . and so on, all the way down the poem, to the drop-line at the end, where the last word out rhymes with but three lines before. A jaunty, loose slant rhyme. Fun indeed. Bravo, Jed!



Sarah's contribution today ia a haiku that hearkens to today's NaPoWriMo prompt.

Signs

Fingers tangle and
weave in intricate dance, but
not a sound flies forth

—Draft by Sarah Smith    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Above Jed mentioned wanting to interpret a poem in ASL (American sign language) and here is Sarah writing about ASL. Brava, Sarah!



Here's the story of my poetic adventure today. Along with her prompt above, Thorson provided links to a couple of poems one could use for a homophonic translation or translitic. One of these poems was "Den halvfärdiga himlen" by the Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer; I tried for quite a while to write a translitic from this text but it just wasn't happenin'. I also attempted to find other texts to work with but to no avail. I've successfully pulled off translitics in other Aprils, but not this time.

So I turned instead to erasure. Wave Books has a website, Erasures, that offers up brief texts one can partially erase, leaving visible a found poem. The text I chose was "The Authoritative Life of General William Booth" by G. S. Railton. Here is that text as it appeared, before erasure, in the website.


And here is my found text, after partial erasure.


Then I finished the poem with my own "dead-end" conclusion. So, unlike Jed and Sarah, I have followed Brewer's prompt.

3-Point Turn

men and women
rarely
bring up
forces vast
and difficult
passed through
fire

instead we
treat them like
a dead end
we slam into
reverse
back out
and go another
way

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

Between and among the three of us, Jed, Sarah, and I covered the two "official" prompts.



"Going rogue for the last day because the prompts are meh," Ven says, "and I feel this poem should live on somewhere. I've fiddled with it somewhat to make it have a story sort of." What Ven is talking about needs a bit of backstory.

Thursday being the last day of class for my Poetry Workshop class, we sat in a circle and played Exquisite Corpse. In this version of the old surrealist game, everyone writes down a line of verse on a piece of paper and passes it to the left. Then each person writes another line of verse based on the first line already on the paper. You fold the paper back so only one line (yours) is showing and pass again. Then everyone writes another line responding to the one line showing, and so on, until you get your own sheet back, after it's gone completely around the circle. You then write a closing line to finish off the poem. Afterward, everyone takes turns reading the poems out loud. It's an incredibly fun game, which can sometimes be raucous and even inappropriate.

Ven's contribution for today, then, is not his alone. It's the Exquisite Corpse poem Ven ended up with. The title as well as the opening and closing lines are his, but the rest were written by members of the class. I should warn you the poem will be NSFW for some, and others may be offended by the last line, but I'm not going to censor.

Disco Queen

          (by Vince's spring 2016 class, not just me)

I made her cum like a train
in the back of the car.
While stars and condolences
and the moon's kisses tangled in her hair.
Her skin had the sweet perfume of jasmine
flowers, and her eyes an opalescent moonstone
glow like the soul's disco balls.
But disco got old fast and she did too.
And I remember now how much I abhor ABBA.
Fuck ABBA in their stupid Swedish faces.

—Draft by Ven Batista and others    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]



Alan also went rogue today. He pointed out to me that he worked with the prompts almost every day in the month but he happens at the moment to be on the road. Now that is devotion. Alan wrote and posted this poem while away visiting family! Thanks so much, Alan.

In Memoriam

In my widowed mother’s living room,
in front of the window facing south, on a pecan-stained dropleaf table decades old,
in a silver-colored metallic frame,
in a photograph taken on the occasion of my maternal aunt’s fiftieth wedding anniversary,
in a gray suit I brought just for the occasion, a suit almost identical to another gray suit I own
in a size that would have fit me far better than the one I brought with me by accident,
in a distracted mood when selecting the suit and in another distracted mood as captured in the
          photograph, self-conscious, uncomfortable, bursting at the seams, almost aware of my size and
          wrestling with my awareness as I realize I should be celebrating
in a nevertheless at that moment happy posture, standing with my brother behind the couch where my
          parents sit, my brother with an expression of good-spirited dignity, my mother beaming, my
          father with that expression so often easy to mistake for reserve when in fact he feels
          disorientation from middle stages of dementia, capable to pass among many as if he is well or
          only slightly confused, a small American flag pin mounted on the left lapel of his dark jacket,
in a pensive posture, I, standing, humbled by my waistline, my cutting belt, my yet-to-be overcome
          vanity,
in a pensive posture, he, seated, face raised and not with his yet-to-be persistent smile masking his
          deepening confusion to come,
in a family portrait, the last of us all together,
in an artificial pose,
in uncertainty of times to come,
in commemoration of a relationship older than my memory.


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

Such a self-aware confessional poem about family and the fears of potential parental inheritances. Thank you, Alan.



Alan, Jed, Sarah, and Ven . . . many, MANY thanks for your poetic contributions to the blog this month. Wonderful work! For the last time this year, Happy National Poetry Month!


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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