Saturday, November 24, 2012

Prompt #127 – Romancing the Poem

Yesterday, on Black Friday (the biggest shopping day of the year), as I sat in my car in Lord & Taylor’s parking lot (waiting for the line of cars ahead of me to move), I turned on the radio and heard Eydie Gorme sing “I’ll Take Romance.” I remember my mom singing that song and, as I sat in the line of cars, I thought about "romance" as a topic for poems. There are, of course, many ways to interpret “romance,” and there are all kinds of love to write about. Let's give it a go this week.

Before you begin writing, consider some possibilities:

First Romance/First Love
Illusory Love
Unrequited Love
Obsessive Love
True Love
Long Distance Love
Love of Your Life
False Love
Betrayed Love
Lost Love
Impossible Love

There are also “romances” that involve a mysterious or fascinating appeal (i.e., an adventure or something uniquely beautiful). Have you ever had a romance with: a particular time in history, the sea, the stars, or nature? These are a different kind of romance and needn’t involve romantic love at all.

Another kind of romance poem is the metrical romance that was popular during the High Renaissance. A literary preference among the aristocracy and upper classes, metrical romances typically related tales of knights and their various adventures and trials. Courtly love was  a typical metrical romance theme, but romantic love was not prerequisite for a metrical romance. Not exactly what I have in mind for this week's poem, but if the form interests you, why not? 

Getting Started:
  1. You  might begin by making a list of “romances” that you’ve had. 
  2. Reflect on your list and select one of the romances to write about. 
  3. You might want to do a free write to get started. 
  4. Don’t let your poem become a typical “love poem.” 
  5. Work to create levels of meaning, and be sure to avoid sentimentality and “mush.” 
  6. Even if your poem is a narrative poem, it should do more than simply tell a story. 
  7. The story is the material of the poem, and you need to do something special with that material (often, as you work with a poem, you discover what its “story” is about (not simply what the story is, but what the story means).

And this gem filled with mystery and nuance 
by Italian translator and poet  Alessandro Pancirolli 

You Get Closer, We Should Not ...

I thought to be out of this maze. I thought to 
Be out of this
That I am now writing. 
You look at me. You smile. "You get closer ,
we should not..."
We know what to expect , a fine rain , we  in hurrying, The Rule.*
It's raining hardly, the wind has ceased,  
The storm is far away...
You cry, you smile at me, you cry.
We walk embraced under the  tall plane trees.
On the riverside.

Ho pensato di essere fuori da questo labirinto. ho pensato
di  essere fuori da questo 
che sto ora scrivo
Mi guardi. Sorridi." Ti avvicini,
non dovremmo..."
Sappiamo cosa aspettarci , una pioggia sottile, abbiamo fretta, La Regola*
Piove appena, il vento è cessato,
la tempesta è lontana ... 
Tu piangi, mi sorridi, piangi.
camminiamo abbracciati sotto  i platani  alti.
Sul lungofiume.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Prompt #126 – What Are You Thankful For?

Here in the U.S., Thanksgiving will be celebrated this week on Thursday, November 22nd. Our Thanksgiving has a long history beginning in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is considered the first Thanksgiving celebration. For over 200 years, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. In 1827, magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale began a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Finally, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln set the last Thursday in November as the official day for a national Thanksgiving observance. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week, and in 1941 Roosevelt signed a bill that designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Gratitude is a developmental emotion, and books have been written on its psychology. Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” There are times in our lives when we feel more Grinch than grateful, especially when the stresses of every day living gather momentum and all but overwhelm us. However, acknowledging and expressing our gratitude can have a beneficial effect on our lives, relationships, and work.

What are you grateful for? This week let’s write about a specific thing for which we’re grateful.

A French proverb tells us, “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.” Our first step in writing this week will be to remember—to look into our memories and to identify a single thing for which we’re especially grateful.

When you're ready to write:
  1. Make a list of things for which you’re thankful.
  2. Choose one item from the list.
  3. Free write about the item you chose.
  4. Look at your free write and select images and details for your poem.
  5. Draft your poem.
  6. Your poem may be stichic (one stanza with no line breaks), it may be a formal poem (ode, sonnet, villanelle, or a kyrielle as we worked with in Prompt #32, November 20, 2010); you may choose to write a prose poem or your poem may take the form of prayer or a letter.
  7. As you write, think about the reasons for your gratitude and show (without telling) what those feelings mean.
  8. Dig deeply to reach beyond the specifics of your personal experience to the underlying universal subject with which your readers will identify.
Note: You might address or dedicate your poem to a person for whom you're thankful, or you might go to the flip side and write about a challenging time (or a time of adversity) that somehow led you to feelings of gratefulness (my mom used to say that good always comes from bad).


Happy Thanksgiving!
My sincerest thanks to all of you for following this blog 
and for being part of its shared poetry experience!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Prompt #125 – Connections

Beginning the night of Hurricane Sandy on October 29th, and through the days until yesterday, I was without electricity, and even when that was restored (with the exception of a few hours last Tuesday), I didn’t have phone, TV, or Internet service until yesterday afternoon. I spent a lot of time thinking about people who were worse off—during this particular storm and through history—and I confess to a bit of personal whinging. 

In all, I was among the grateful lucky who only suffered the inconveniences of a power outage, a single lost tree, and downed branches. What I found most challenging was not being in touch with the outside world (other than a few close friends and neighbors): no telephone chats (not knowing if family and friends were safe), no Internet connection (no email, no blogging, no Facebook, editing jobs waiting in queue to be completed and sent), no snail mail deliveries (not even election campaign materials), and no television (news, favorite programs, etc). It was a strange feeling that put me “in touch” with not being in touch, disconnecting, losing contact, and what being “isolated” means. Although people worldwide experience much worse every day, the past twelve days reminded me how important our “connections” are. 

This week, let’s write about lost, broken, missing, reestablished, and lasting connections. Our poems most often come to us through personal experiences, usually the most strongly emotional. In this week's poem, work toward creating a "charged" emotional center with the caveat to avoid being sentimental, overemotional, or "clichéd." Remember that sentimentality and poetic sentiment are not the same thing. Sentimentality is a literary pitfall dominated by a head-on  appeal to the emotions (whiney, self-pitying, excessively emotional, or saccharinely sweet), and it detracts from a poem’s quality, often making readers resist the emotional response you hope to invoke. The idea is to offer access to feelings rather than to pour them out in a rush of words—don’t simply tell, show through imagery and detail.

  1. Write a poem about a friend with whom you’ve lost contact.
  2. Write a poem about ending a friendship or a romantic relationship.
  3. Write a poem about reconnecting with an old friend or a former lover.
  4. Write a poem about being isolated from others (emotionally, physically).
  5. Write a poem about missing someone—a major "disconnect" in your life.
  6. Write a poem about a lasting connection in your life.
  7. Write a poem about the “connectedness” of humankind.
  8. Write a poem about  what it means to never speak to someone again.
  9. Write a poem about feeling isolated (for whatever reason).
  10. Write a  poem about something missing or isolated within yourself.  


P.S. It’s great to be back blogging and to being connected to you!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

I hope that all of you in Hurricane Sandy’s path, your families, and your homes came through safely! Sandy hit my corner of the country with winds that gusted to over 85 miles per hours throughout the night of October 29th. The town in which I live took a direct hit, and I was without electricity, landline, etc. from Monday night (Oct. 29th) until Saturday night (Nov. 3rd). Then, even though the electricity was restored, I didn't have TV, Internet, or phone until about an hour ago.

There are still many trees and some power lines down all over town. One of my beautiful huge pines out back went down and took out the neighbor's fence and my arbor, but there was no major damage to property. As I look at news photos and at my neighbors’ properties, I feel very blessed.

I have a generator, and that was a big help with the refrigerator and sump pump (though we didn't need the latter). We used a propane heater in the living room during the nights and on Wednesday an electrician neighbor came over and hooked up the generator to the furnace so there was central heat. Gas, however, was hard to find, and we had to wait in lines for up to four hours to fill the red plastic gas containers for the generator. We alternated between the generator and the propane heater as much as possible.

Chaucey, bless his little furry-ness, got through it all without even noticing that anything was amiss!

This has been like living in another century, but the sun is shining today, and now with all the utilities back, things are much more normal. Again, I hope you're all safe!

I've missed sharing poetry with you here on the blog, and I'll catch up with your comments soon. Please "stay tuned" — I'll post a new prompt this coming Saturday. Thank you again for your caring and for your concern!

(Photo: My pine tree and the empty space where the arbor was.)