Day 24 — the making of a poem: behind the scenes sneak peak

Attended a Gawler Poetry Readings – Poetry at the Pub workshop run by the very talented Heather Taylor-Johnson

It was an excellent workshop … & here I’m going to quote some blurb: Form is an active part of a poem, not just an aesthetic, so the workshop will look at how different forms DO different things within a poem. Which indeed it did. We looked at multiple examples of different poems in different forms doing different things. We discussed what those things might be. We did numerous writing exercises which produced several pomes which we were nice starting points for later play. 

But one exercise was particularly pertinent. Seeking to see if I could use the workshop to generate today’s NaPoWriMoPo Heather asked us to to consider something we were currently dealing with. I chose the unexpected end of a relationship (for those of seven of you who’ve been here all month this will come as no surprise, hahaha).

However in the interest of walking you through some of what we did, somewhat unusally, I’m going to present several versions of the poem (2 drafts and the current ‘final’ version).

Task: to write something super swiftly on the topic (3 minutes). 

& so this. First version.

Draft #1.

[untitled]

Sorry you were not
Brave enough to brace
Yourself against the slow
Flow of obstacles 

Mud & stones & sticks 
Rumbling down the mountain
Brought down by weeks
Of rain & now the deluge 

The sad landslide 
Has wrecked everything 
Washed away whatever
We had tentatively built

Not sure I have the energy
To commence the clean up
Let alone attempt any kind
Of reconstruction efforts

Curiously because this was late in the session I was already thinking about form & for some reason wrote it in quatrains which is not something I’d normally do. But quatrains certainly don’t suit this subject matter.

Aside: when I started the poem I wasn’t actually sure what it was going to be about. I only had the first few words of the first line “Sorry you were not/Brave enough…” When I wrote “brave” I immediately paired it with “brace” (why? they looked nice together) then I had to work out what she was bracing against. “slow/Flow” popped in … & that’s where the landslide imagery came in … & the rest wrote itself. [It’s interesting to keep track of what happens to those words/images through the poem; or I think it is anyway.]

Supplementary task: five minutes to reconsider it in terms of its form considering how altering form might enhance meaning. I couldn’t at first see what to do. Then:

Sorry you were not
      Brave enough to brace
           Yourself against the slow
                  Flow of obstacles 

But if I did that I’d rapidly run out of room. So I reduced it from 5 spaces to 1.

Giving me this:

Landslide/slip

Sorry you were not
 Brave enough to brace
  Yourself against the slow
   Flow of obstacles 

     Mud & stones & sticks 
      Rumbling down the mountain
       Brought down by weeks
        Of rain & now the deluge 

          The sad landslide 
            Has wrecked everything 
             Washed away whatever
               We had tentatively built

Not sure I have the energy
To commence the clean up
Let alone attempt any kind
Of reconstruction efforts

Which still didn’t look right. But maybe was kinda going somewhere. But anyway, formatting it on my iPhone was too hard & besides I was out of time. 

Only when I got home could I play. & after attempting it all lined up on the right hand side of the page. Urrrgh. I ended up with this. Which while not perfect, I quite like.

slippage

so
sorry 
you were 
not resolute 
enough to brace 
your soul to resist 
the detritus torrent
mud & stones & sticks
rumbling down the mount
deluged by weeks of rain — now 
the sad landslide has wrecked everything 
washed away everything we’d tentatively built

not sure if i have the energy to commence clean up
let alone attempt any kind of meaningful reconstruction

Day 01 – the present (& the past)

knee

As much as I dread this time of the year, in a way I look forward to it too. The challenge of making yourself write something new is always illuminating. Particularly since I haven’t written as much poetry recently as I’d like. In the past 12 months, I have been overseas, packed up my old house, secured a loan, bought a new house, & moved back to the country where I grew up. It has been an exhausting but ultimately rewarding 12 months.

But for many hours today, I debated whether I would bother with another NaPoWriMo (they are quite exhausting) & I have participated every year since 2014.

That said. I really didn’t feel inspired. So I checked out the official NaPoWriMo page to see what the prompt of the day was: poem in the form of instructions on how to do something (a recipe, instructional manual, etc). Less than inspiring. None-the-less, I attempted for a while to fashion something I’ve been thinking about for a while — the “Goldilocks zone” for planetary habitability. But the recipe format made it too didactic, it clunked along & would take far too long to get it to work, so I abandoned it & felt like abandoning the whole idea, when …

 

the present

there are times : when in stillness : in solitude’s silence : in the black hole : of recrimination : i catch myself : remembering : who i was : grieving : for who i might : have been

when my dog : even if in slumber : feels the air shift : a gasp : tear : tremble : thought : paddles over : rests chin : on knee : looks at me : with liquidlove eyes : offers : a blessed moment : of forgetting

 


 

 

NOTE: Last year during NaPoWriMo18 I was overseas. I had intended to use the WordPress app to upload a poem daily but for three days the Italian wifi seemed unable to accommodate me. So instead I simply posted my poems on facebook. As a “bonus” I intend to share the poem I wrote each day a year ago so they too are on my blog.

BONUS POEM: April 1, 2018

TL;DR
Participating in #napowrimo/#glopowrimo again. Writing every day. WordPress sux. Posting on Facebook not blog. Catching up now…

Take 1. (Original Post)
Well that traumatic but challenging time of year has arrived again #napowrimo/#glopowrimo. Even though I am away from the Deskal Area of Creative Output, I was hoping to participate in it using the WordPress phone app.

However, even though 2 days have passed without a post yet, I have been writing heaps every day, so there is plenty to choose from. That said the excitement & exhaustion of OS travel (as well as just, er, frustrating technical issues) means I just … haven’t.

They will form, I hope a kind of mini travel-diary in poetic notation. They may not be the best poem of the day (though I’ll try) but one which captures the spirit/primary activity/mood/lesson (for want if a better word) for the day. But enough blather …

Take 2.
Okay so there’s a lesson learnt, I think … & that is that hotel wifi may not be “strong enough” to upload a new wp post. (Yeah I dunno either…) Either way, the spinning wheel of death went round & round for 20 min trying to publish before I was forced to concede & quit it. I lost it all & had to start again.

Take 3.
The ultimate lesson is that three (3) separate hotel wifis aren’t up to the task (2 in Rome, 1 in Tuscany).

So it clearly must be the fault of the app. In three evenings following delightful outings, I’ve managed to upload one saved version of Day 1 but not post it. & that took so much time I was able to read Chapter 1 of The Raunbow; a none-too-brief introduction to the Brangwens.

So I’ve decided the only inelegant solution is to only post on fb & updated the blog later.

 

Ancient Ostia, under the flight path

deliberately avoided
the showstoppers
wandered the small walls
half rooms,  broken paths
& togas of headless marble
once were somebodies

so when I arrive
via stone
steps so steep
OHS would object
i’m ready for breath
to be stolen

the ancient
amphitheatre’s
gasp

natural focal point
of congregating school
groups eating sandwiches
packets of chips
& browning precut
pieces of fruit;
impromptu lectures;
philosophical thoughts;
families clowning round;
kids singing songs
on the orchestra
while parents
applaud, laugh

even after 2000 years;
even while the big
planes bellydown nearby;
this long lost theatre
still works magic

Mask

Day 15 – BONUS POEM … BOOK READERS BE ALARMED, VERY ALARMED

So as a kind of NaPoWriMo2015 midway point bonus poem, here is a Semi-Sort-of-Narrative Poem about one of my favourite passions, pleasures, pastimes, pursuits & predilections. (Today’s actual poem, still to follow.)

If you love reading, be warned, the following 244 words could terrify you.

*****

big angst over a relatively small number

in the 365 days of last year
i physically completed reading
56 new books ; give or take ;
another 8-10 audiobooks ;
for a lower than expected
1-&-a-quarter-a-week average ;
not included are books begun
but abandoned ; nor a half-dozen
reread books , first timers only
— but none of these
are the small number in question

i’m 44 & semi-fit-ish ,
if you look at me while
squinting into the sun ;
blood pressure 120 over 80
at the last doctor’s visit ;
my grandparental average age
is 90.9 , & still rising
— but none of these
are the small number in question either

assuming i can maintain
this minimal completion rate
until my , now meticulously
mapped-out , demise ;
& assuming i survive
to at least 80 ; 10 years shy
of my long-living familial median ,
the second assumption
far less likely than the first ;
then i only have 2,376
books left to read in my life!
— welcome to the small number
& the big angst

less than 2 & half thousand!
10,000 new books are published
in english … E.V.E.R.Y. year ;
360,000 during my imagined
remaindered lifetime ;
& i’ll be able to read a measly ;
0.69% of them ; if i’m lucky ;
not counting all the classics
never read but always intending to ;
the books already bought
but not yet dipped into ;
& of course the faves i’d like
to revisit at least once more
before the big shuffle off

hence my goal this year ;
& the next 15 at least ;
to religiously devour
2 a week ; that’s 1664
before i’m 60 ; leaving a lazy
712 to knock off between
then … & 2050
— should be a doddle

*****

cave_of_the_forgotten_books_by_racoonart-d7t7qwg