Monday, April 12, 2021

Day 12 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “write a poem using at least three of the following six words: convict, great, play, race, season, and voice. Extra credit for using all six words. Extra extra credit for writing a sestina. It's not a race, so I won't convict anyone who can't use all six words, but it is the definitely the season to play around and share your great voice. Now!” [Did you see what he did with the six words?]

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt today is called “Past and Future,” a challenge “to write a poem using at least one word/concept/idea from each of two specialty dictionaries: Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.


I'm working from both prompts again today, using all six of Brewer's words, the words "morphed" and "non-human" from the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction, and the mythological story of Daphne from the Classical Dictionary — which you might recall from Ovid's Metamorphoses.

This is a hybrid sonnet, part Petrarchan with the abba quatrains, or maybe "over-Petrarchan," since there are three of these quatrains, rather than the usual two, rounded off by a Shakespearean ending couplet.

Daphne, Apollo, and Me Too

Apollo, as he raced the silver sun,
his great chariot, across the sky,
thought it would be marvelous play
to chase Daphne, a beautiful woman,

though still quite an ingenue. She ran
in fear but who can escape the day
itself? Daphne raised her voice and prayed
to her father, the river god Ladon,

who morphed her into a non-human
form, before Apollo could have his way
with her. She became the laurel tree,
an evergreen, lovely in all seasons.

Today, Apollo wouldn’t get away with it.
Assault, attempted rape, he’d be convicted.

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

Apollo and Daphne by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

The tale of Daphne and Apollo (usually titled "Apollo and Daphne") was a famous story of unrequited love throughout the Renaissance, probably because of Ovid's version in Metamorphoses. The most well-known artistic rendering is Bernini's renowned sculpture of the moment when Daphne turns into a tree just as Apollo catches her. What seems incredible to me is that anyone thought this was unrequited love! This is clearly an attempted rape, not unrequited love. Click on the detail of Bernini's statue below and look at Daphne's facial expression as the sculptor portrayed it. Unrequited love? It's predation, despite Apollo's serene look!

Apollo and Daphne by Bernini (detail)

I try to convey this idea in the poem with my use of the word "play" and "have his way" instead of something like "love" or "yearning." And then, of course, the poem's "me too" ending.

Interestingly, it's the Brewer prompt's assignment of the word "play" that brought this on, along with the sonnet requirement to rhyme with "play." The long /a/ sound dominates at the end as well, with "Today" and "get away," and especially with the word "rape" in the last line.

Another interesting way that form governs sense here is my naming "Ladon" as Daphne's father (from a variant version of the myth) rather than Ovid's "Peneus," since "Ladon" is a closer rhyme to the a rhyme ("sun" and "woman") in the opening quatrain. Actually, "Peneus" would have also worked as a distant slant rhyme, but the /n/ would have been buried in the word so I opted for "Ladon" instead.


Alan did both prompts as well. Here's what he said when he sent me the poem: "This one is a rough beast. 'Tantalus' from one dictionary, 'thud and blunder' from the other, all of the six words, and a sestina, to boot —"

Tantalus

Each year seems an interminable race
between the votes to elect or convict—
news cycles one melodramatic play,
thud and blunder lead their party, a great
and noble candidate leads ours, a voice
who will sustain us through a hard season,

although we always weather each season
and gasp for breath. As we prep for the race
to come, we hope to mute the nagging voice
that questions, “Why isn’t he a convict?
Is it because he represents some great
nostalgic hope? What motives are at play

that they could choose that candidate? The play
we’ve seen for years, season after season,
has changed with each director, and a great
character motivation has been race
and racism. Much too slow to convict
the killers, states criminalize the voice

that calls for justice, deny the stilled voice
whose resonance continues its strong play
in the nation’s conscience, “Be a convict
for a cause,” it says, “good trouble, seize on
a principle and act; it’s not a race
alone—no one is alone. A true, great

day will come.” Will Matt Gaetz think it is great?
Will Marjorie Taylor Greene lend her voice?
With Ted Cruz and Jim Jordan in the race,
is Josh Hawley already out of play
or merely out for the current season?
Mired in a system that will not convict

the man who deserves to be a convict,
who claimed to “make America great
again,” wanted most a renewed season
to broadcast a bullying, empty voice
that relies on Big Lies and not fair play,
he insists he has won a stolen race.

Should law convict him, who will be the voice
of Q-Anon? Great policies at play
each voting season, who will win the race?

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


Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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