Auld Lang Syne

Friday, April 13, 2012

Strange word Prompt Day 15

What is the strangest word you know? Is there a word that gets to you ... can't let go of it word... one that keeps popping up for you?

Write about that word or use it in a line of a poem that exemplifies the word.

Come on, you can DO IT!

Day 14 Prompt Foreign Phrase poem

L'avenir appartient à ceux qui se lèvent tôt

(French equivalent of "the early bird gets the worm")

For today, use a foreign phrase in a poem. Make sure the poem does its job exemplifying or explaining the phrase.

Here is one of mine:

Il n’y a pas un chat dans la rue, an aubade

The streets are empty, wind stirs

light against the building where I leave you.

Soon enough cars will shoosh the pavement

and work will begin in every office and shop.

My damp hair will dry in the sun, my wet cheeks too.

No shadows to give up our secrets, whisper our names.

Won’t you promise this is not the end, come to me

again when the light falls behind the city?

If I tell you I cannot go on without you,

will you mock me and say not our arrangement?

Will you sigh and dress more slowly,

send me a ring that was your mother’s —

one meant for your daughter (you have only sons).

The street begins its crawl from darkness

to the light where you fly home to another

and leave me with my cat, our secret, this perfume.

The French phrase means "the street is empty" but literally, there is not a cat in the street"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Call to Action

Robert has challenged us to write a blog for today that includes a call to action at the end. So I guess I will hop on my soapbox for a few minutes.

I am struggling with (constantly) the issue of grammar. My longstanding grump is the "where I'm AT" thing. It is not okay in any vestiges of propriety "to end a sentence a preposition with." HA! Do you see how silly that sounds? It is obviously correct to say it this way: "to end a sentence with a preposition." No way, no how is it okay to end a sentence with a preposition. However, I am faced with supposedly educated people IN education doing just that: a couple principals and even one acting superintendent. Grrrr. When I hear it (at least three or four times a week for the past month at PUBLICLY-TELEVISED meetings), I grit my teeth and grimace. I want to shout out and demand better grammar from those who are at the helm(s) of education. I do not do this. I get a headache of epic proportion instead of doing this.

I recall an argument with a student in one of my college English classes who had a (she thought) logical explanation for using "at" in this way. I told her that "where I'm at" is incorrect because of the aforementioned "rule" of grammar and because "where I'm" literally means "where I am," thus no need for the "at." She said that made sense except that adding the "at" made the location more specific. Huh? She went on to say "where I am" could be any location or state of being, but "where I'm at" is a specific location or state of being, focused and definite. This made NO SENSE whatsoever, but several other students said that was how they saw things. Oh my gosh. I thought I was going to start bleeding from the eyes and ears at that point. I continued to require my students to stop using that incorrect grammar and corrected it every time they fell back into it. I furthermore stated to them most emphatically that anyone using "where I'm (she's, he's they're, we're, you're) at" on an essay or in a paper or on a test would fail that instrument of assessment. Grumble grumble grumble from the students.

Here is a funny story that happened after we'd had the discussion about "at" at the end of a sentence determining location. A student, who was looking for another classroom, came to the door and asked "where's the _____ class at?" A sudden look of impending doom came across everyone's faces as they waited to see what I'd do. I said the following:

"Well, the _____ class you are trying to find is on the upper campus, but perhaps since you used incorrect grammar in ending that sentence with a preposition, you might consider staying in this English class." Hoots and howls and other sounds from my students. One said, "Uh, oh, she took him out! He never saw that one coming!"

So what do I do here when an acting superintendent of schools and one school principal commit this grammar crime over and over? Ignore and continue to grit my teeth? Confront privately? Pray that the people watching the broadcast don't catch the error and think we are a bunch of illiterate boobs?

I say it's time to confront poor grammar, issue grammar crimes tickets to all who commit them. TAKE BACK GOOD GRAMMAR! Go ye forth then and correct, complain, demand!

Lucky 13, time to write a pantoum

For today, a pantoum.

Use this phrase somewhere in the poem:

his hands looked like his father's

Day 12...late

Write a 14-line poem using the phrase "in an unfavorable light" or "in unfavorable light"

Will you try a sonnet?

Day 11 Prompt (yikes we are headed to the 1/2way mark)

Use these words: key, slipper, marigold, frosting, bookmark, alive

Write a poem where you embed words that rhyme with the words above. In other words, do not use the rhmes at the ENDS of lines, but somewhere in the body of the poem. I have bolded the rhymers. Note that not every rhymer is at the end of a line.

Paying attention is key
to success. For me, listening
is like a bookmark, a place
of remembering, a small
lark on a branch or a marigold
you picked for your beloved.
Listening is not old hat, it is fresh
because what you hear comes alive
when you let the words thrive in your mind
for just a bit, then set them free
to grow into a poem, or a promise.

Now you try it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Prompt #10 Address Poem

Today we will write an address poem. There are many possibilities for this. See a couple below:

1. An address poem can be a bit like a letter (called an epistle poem) wherein the poet addresses someone, usually in the opening line. The address can also come elsewhere in the poem, even at the end. Sometimes the "address" is implied, without actually NAMING the person, or it can be to a group, such as "Citizens of Paris, "

Citizens of Paris, you have wine to drink
rabble to rouse in the streets, a style
all your own where the bourgeoise
are at risk of overturning like so many
before. You have a duty to speak,
to shout in one voice or many, to die
for what is right. Those days have not passed.

Or the more personal address:

_____, you shut me down
when all I wanted was a kiss
or a squeeze of the shoulder
saying I'm here, I hear you.

You stopped me in my tracks
and made me feel small ...

2. An address poem can be aimed at a location, naming it either in the title or in the body of the poem:

#10 Downing Street, you reek of formality,
of propriety and the style of a bygone era.
No amount of publicity , no prayers will change you
from stodgy edifice to happening hot spot. It is set.


1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you loom —
a reminder to us all that America is a house
with many rooms and closets. Inside
some are beautiful carpets, paintings,
in the other a few unsavory secrets.

Choose which kind of address poem you want to try and please post it on my blog. Try two to three stanzas.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 9, time to go outside

For today, go outside and find something interesting in your yard. It might be a rock or a plant that has just bloomed. Write a 10-line poem about it.

Be creative: write obliquely without actually mentioning the item. This is a BIG challenge but you can do it. Here is an example I dashed off that considers the bloom of the first spring tulip.

She lifts her head
where for so long she slept
and struggled to stay alive.
Her lips burn, her arms
barely able to lift her weight.
What god above so cursed
her to think herself near death
only to pull her spirit forth
with a warm kiss, as if beloved?
Is this a game of love? Such a game
I would not wish to play.
But she is beloved. Her sleep
has restored her to health...
... and I rejoice to find her
nodding her golden head
in my garden.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Morning & Poetry

It suddenly struck me last night that I am no longer in the cadre of moms who stay up late preparing the Easter baskets, dyeing eggs, prepping for the kids' egg hunt. When I was a young mom, these were happy and tiring times. I relished them and resented them at the same time. Freed from the commercial trappings of Easter is such a blessing. I can reflect on the holy aspects of this day, what it means to me as a woman of faith. I feel free and full.

What this means to me as a poet is that I can express this faith-filled day in my writing (or in my reading or listening). What comes to me right off is The Lake Isle of Innisfree (Yeats), one poem that seems to inspire me and make me grateful for the life I have. This poem, along with a few others, is right up there with The Stolen Child, and Lady of Shalott. I must admit that the phrase "bee-loud glade" often runs through my head, particularly when I am writing and "in the zone" with a new work. I have no idea why, but maybe its cheerfulness and its fantastic and full imagery. To compound my joy at having this poem in my head for several days now, a serendipity: yesterday a package dropped on my porch, a bit of Irish poetry by Theo Dorgan (today's reading!) and a "living anthology of Irish poetry" entitled The Bee-Loud Glade! This includes a CD of selected poems set to music and performed by the Crazy Dog Theatre's Roger Gregg. I will most surely report in to all of you my take on both the book and the CD... stay tuned for that.

But for now, off to church. I am the scripture reader this morning. Afterwards, we will head off to breakfast at our favorite restaurant in town, the Brass Compass (title spot of my 2nd book). Then home to cook and read. What a lovely day it will be (is already).

Catch ya on the flip side with a new prompt.

Day 8 Write a Triolet

OK... it's time to try a triolet. Look at my blog from yesterday to see how to do it if you are a triolet newbie...

You might do a double or a treble (triple) or just do the 8 lines. I have faith in you! Here are an A and a B line you can use if you are stumped. All you will need now are an "a" rhyme and a "b" rhyme!

I need to conjure up the dead
I need to dig them up, brush off their bones.