And, for our very last day of the 30 poems in 30 days challenge, we are asked to write a special poetic form called the cento. As Maureen explains, “This is a poem that is made up of lines taken from other poems.” So, that’s what I did! Below is my version of a cento with lines from Elizabeth Barret Browning, Christina Rossetti, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, & Emily Dickinson. I selected all women poets writing about love.
NaPoWritMo.net’s prompt for the penultimate day: “In certain versions of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty, various fairies or witches are invited to a princess’s christening, and bring her gifts. One fairy/witch, however, is not invited, and in revenge for the insult, lays a curse on the princess. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in which you muse on the gifts you received at birth . . . as well as a ‘curse’ you’ve lived with (your grandmother’s insistence on giving you a new and completely creepy porcelain doll for every birthday, a bad singing voice, etc.). I hope you find this to be an inspiring avenue for poetic and self-exploration.” My poem begins with the scent of marigolds as I plant my garden.
Gifts at Birth
Pungent marigold scent rises from the roots I untangle,
transports me to my mother’s garden—a blessing
I was born with, or so it seems, a love of nature,
flowers, and fingers in the dark, dank dirt.
Going back to the day of birth, I was born under the
sun sign of Capricorn and inherited the climbing
nature of a goat, the goat with a fish tail, also
took me to watery parts of the land—larger bodies
of water from the Great Lakes to the sea, and spent
childhood afternoons by a mint-filled
brook in the meadow or a clear lake in the woods.
Other gifts: a thick bunch of black, frizzy hair
and an insatiable curiosity, a need to be in the
center of things, since before I was vocal!
I climbed from the crib and toddled into the
living room with grown ups—a blessing—
love of the night!
Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter also in the sign of
Capricorn the night I was born, so I’m bound to
butt my way through obstacles and climb!
Rooted in the earth, a blessing and a curse—
I wish sometimes I could be like fire and flare up
or air and dragonfly-like flit from here to there—
Concrete Poem, a venture into visual poetics! So much fun!
And here we are with two days to go! Try your hand at this prompt: “Today’s (optional) prompt is to write a concrete poem. Like acrostic poems, concrete poems are a favorite for grade-school writing assignments, so this may not be your first time at the concrete-poem rodeo. In brief, a concrete poem is one in which the lines are shaped in a way that mimics the topic of the poem.”
I spent most of my poetry time researching the concrete poetry movements and some of the poets who loved the technique as it evolved over the decades. Really enjoyed learning about Mary Ellen Solt (1920-2007)—she was a scholar and a poet of the form. Her concrete flowers landed all over the world, for example, Forsythia, the image I included here.
Below you will find my effort at a concrete poem. I included it as an image because I knew it would shift if I tried to use text. I have to say, using a typewriter was easier than a computer when writing concrete poems!
Very late, dear readers, as today was a day when many people bothered the earth spirit who was trying to write a story here! For this reason, my poem developed from this beautiful quote from Joy Harjo. I included it as an epigraph to this poem in a duplex in form, title “Don’t Bother Her.”
Our prompt for Day 27 from https://www.napowrimo.net: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “duplex.” A “duplex” is a variation on the sonnet, developed by the poet Jericho Brown. Here’s one of his first “Duplex” poems, and here is a duplex written by the poet I.S. Jones. Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line of the poem is the same as the first.”
Don’t Bother Her
“Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story.”
Joy Harjo (How We Became Human)
Don’t bother her; she is working.
Her story comes alive with spirits.
Spirits of the story begin to talk & laugh.
They cry so much earth spirit is nearly drowned.
Tears of the spirits almost drown her.
Do you see them dancing in a circle?
The circle dance tells stories once lost.
She is writing them down now.
Pages and pages, she writes now.
The dark boy & the dark girl laugh ’til they cry.
In this story, the girl & boy laugh with tears.
The earth spirit writes it all down.
So many stories of the circle dance to write down.
My inner muse is a bit difficult today! Perhaps I have overworked her. I am posting late in the day because my first effort came out more like a prayer to the earth than a conversation with a dream or vision that represents the land nearby, but here’s my second effort. This poetic form is new to me (pronounced ashling).
And here’s the prompt from NaPoWriMo.net!
“Today’s (optional) prompt is based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live. Perhaps she will be the Madonna of the Traffic Lights, or the Mysterious Spirit of Bus Stops. Or maybe you will be addressed by the Lost Lady of the Stony Coves. Whatever form your dream-visitor takes, happy writing!”
Mother of the Marshes: Aisling
Rising from the mist above the
muddy marshes, a female presence
forms from nothingness & my dreams.
She speaks: “I am the mother of the marshes.”
She is dark like the earth & smells
like the sea. She’s the spirit of the river &
flows with the tides. I am in awe, so don’t
speak back, but she doesn’t mind. She has
things to say. “You know,” she says, “that
my spartina grasses bind my muddy soil,
to protect all you humans from the stormy seas.
Being a buffer is just fine, but more importantly,
Today is the last Sunday of our challenge! Soon it will all be a memory! Thanks for traveling with me. I feel sad about so many animals that are pushed out and misunderstood in our over populated world. The Armadillo is one. This poem is a blend of an animal poem from a 2019 challenge and today’s prompt that asks me to write a poem describing something with similes. The Armadillo is a little understood and sometimes hated animal, so I hope this poem changes some folks ideas about them. How about this Pink Fairy?
The NaPoWriMo.net site and Maureen have not let us down, now on day 23! She says: “Today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in the style of Kay Ryan, whose poems tend to be short and snappy – with a lot of rhyme and soundplay. They also have a deceptive simplicity about them, like proverbs or aphorisms. Once you’ve read a few, you’ll see what I mean.” This prompt seemed daunting at first, but immersing myself in the work of Kay Ryan, I began to feel her rhythm. For this poem, “As Though it Mattered,” I adopted the structure of her poem, “The Best of It,” an incredible poem, and also the title of one of her collections. Here’s her poem from Poetry Magazine: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=42130
Kudos to all the poets out there, hanging in on the 22nd day and Earth Day at that! Also, thanks to the poetry appreciators for reading, commenting, and liking the work!
So, here we go: “And now for our prompt (optional, as always). In honor of today’s being the 22nd day of Na/GloPoWriMo 2022, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that uses repetition. You can repeat a sound, a word, a phrase, or an image, or any combination of things” (compliments of https://www.napowrimo.net/, also known Na/GloPoWriMo.)
I created an even greater challenge to writing a curtal sonnet (suggested by Maureen at NapoWriMo.net) by also making it a war sonnet. It is still a draft, but I’m satisfied with it enough to post it here with my poem-a-day challenge poems. Because it has so absorbed my time, I am combining days 16 & 18 with this effort.
For those who don’t know, a curtal sonnet is a variation on the classic 14-line sonnet. The curtal sonnet form was developed by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and he used it for what is probably his most famous poem, “Pied Beauty.” A curtal sonnet has eleven lines, instead of the usual fourteen, and the last line is shorter than the ten that precede it.
The media image is the famous poster by Kathe Kollwitz “Never War Again.”