Today’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is to use a movie quote in a poem. Mish provided a list to choose from. When I saw “It’s alive! It’s alive!” from Frankenstein (1931), the repetition reminded me of a poetry form. I looked back through my poems from last OctPoWriMo and found it in my post from October 6, 2020 Following Desire. The form is Monotetra.
The instructions for the Monotetra are a little confusing because it talks about number of feet and also number of syllables. If you look at my poem in that post, “Desire is the ear at the curtain,” I was counting syllables (eight), and rhyming, but wasn’t paying attention to meter. The instructions for the Monotetra form assume a poetic metrical foot to have two syllables, but a poetic foot can have more than two syllables: like the dactyl (stressed, unstressed, unstressed) I used in my last post, and the anapest (unstressed, unstressed, stressed) which is how I read “It’s alive!”
Since I want to play with anapestic meter instead of 8 syllables this will be an alternate form of a Monotetra. It will still be made of rhyming quatrains, and the fourth line will repeat, but each line will be in anapestic dimeter.
When a song with a drive brings the bees to the hive and the throng into thrive “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
like a wrong she deprives and with love to connive and belong she can strive Hope’s alive! It’s alive!
on the path to revive when the depth of the dive meets the wrath she archived Hope’s alive! It’s alive!
like a storm will arrive hear the clap, count to five stay informed to survive “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
dance to the, dance to the music of Chopin and waltz with me, waltz with me round a nice fantasy keep up appearances sentimentalities backhanded compliments blacking out promises
dance with me, dance with me turning me endlessly waltz to the, waltz to the mockingbird murmuring visitors’ vanities blushing with jealousy echoing, echoing over the wonderful fantasy
Today’s Meet the bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is to take a look at the waltz. I took this as inspiration to attempt a poem in dactylic meter. Dactyls are feet that are three syllables with the first syllable stressed, or long short short like a waltz.
My previous post, the last in my redrafting demonstration, was about emulating a poem or poet. Today, the Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub takes that to a whole new level. Laura challenges us to write a poem either about one of our favorite poets, or addressing a poet in direct voice. I think I’ll take a look at a couple lessons of the How Writers Write Poetry MOOC and see if one of the poets inspires me to write about or to them.
A Temporary Respite with James Galvin
May I share in your antidote? I’ll approach with pleasure pleasure of the somatosensory alphabet that provides temporary respite from knowing we’re going to die
It will be delicious delighting our senses five We’ll get to hear beautiful musics I won’t want just one I’ll want another one I’ll bring passion
I’ll drag it, pulling against a leash like a dog you don’t believe knows or fears death giving us something to survive for giving us a chance to stay alive better
The Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is a great way to introduce the next step in my revision process. Ingrid challenged us to explore Narrative Voice. One of the first things I did in my poem review was look at the point of view and narrative of the poem. It isn’t very clear. The poem starts with “An impression,” but whose impression? Is it a general impression by the reader, everyone, the universe? Or is it one woman standing at the kitchen sink. While reviewing my poem, I also thought of the Andrew Wyeth painting above. I’m going to write a poem in my imagined woman’s narrative voice and see what that can add to the redraft.
Staring through the cracked pane
over the vast, yellowed field, the failed seal has left the view speckled, impossibly frustrating, like the black grout and stained porcelain the ruin of wear and age
somehow my fault my ineptitude as if any more scrubbing would discourage the fruit flies in the sink more than my reddened, sore, cracked hands do me.
These hands that used to capture the cosmos, fold fantasies, weave worlds, now swat, squish and scour, in fruitless and futile daily exercise toward demise.
I don’t hear the tractor Is it behind that bale? his sweat dripping on her skin it was never going to be the last time how will the bill’s get paid with only that seed sown?
An explosion, pressure shakes the pane the noise rings in my ears stops the world I step from my spiraling thoughts and see clearly how small my worries each a fruit fly in the sink
A solution, so long obscured by chores and basic needs now, in this chilling moment bright the truth of everything with underlying cause: He doesn’t love me this lack so erosive I can’t love myself
It’s scary, I shiver with the knowing there’s no going back What hateful words will escape my lips forever burning like the fading flower curtains around the uncleanable kitchen window behind me
The Pep Talk
Don’t be afraid to try every and all ideas. The exciting thing about this process, is none of it is cut in stone. Each and every version of the poem and those it inspires should be saved separately. I recommend creating a folder for the poem and saving after each change with version numbers. That way you can always go back and compare.
Finishing the Review
It has been a busy morning. I’m proud to say, I’m working through each step in the process. I did four mind maps and saw some very interesting overlap. It seems like such a simple task, and it is, but somehow it really works to generate ideas. Then I free-wrote around the best lines, thinking about my character and narrative which really helped me dive into my poem. I concluded that it’s actually better than I originally thought and helped me make some big changes already. The free-write also helped me finish the narrative poem above.
This process of going through revision with you is already helping me revise my process. So fun. While going through the review, I added “identify sensory details.” I’m so glad I did. In my free-write this morning, I explored some sensory details and came upon an idea that needed some research, so I’m going to add “do research” to the review process before redrafting.
Here’s my revised review checklist:
Identify POV, tense, form, voice
create a color key
identify sensory details
identify best lines
mark weak verbs & nouns
words to mind map
mark areas to expand
highlight cliche language
make easy cuts
choose what to edit to (theme, idea)
brainstorm alternate titles
make notes to guide re-write
do mind maps
free-write around best lines, character and narrative
write a narrative poem
A sample of the free-write
“It’s a snapshot, orienting the reader to someone irritated by fruit flies in the kitchen sink. She’s thinking a million different things when suddenly, something causes everything to stop. What is this trigger? Does it matter for this poem? Like I was thinking yesterday, it could be as tiny as a sparkle in a crow’s beak, or a certain trill in a bird’s song, or it could be as large as a tornado . . . or aliens landing on the lawn. For this poem, what makes the impression doesn’t matter. It happened, it stops everything.”
–Maria L. Berg’s morning pages 5/5/2021
The poem now
After all that work this morning, I have my first redraft. I hadn’t planned to make such large changes before going through the redrafting I already planned, but the mind-maps, free-write, brainstorming sensory detail, research, and narrative poem gave me some ideas. I’ve decided to give each of my revisions one of the alternate titles I brainstormed to try them out.
She stares out the kitchen window
An impression arrests fruit flies in kitchen sinks full of ideas frozen mid-irritation, like tinnitus of Meniere’s before the dizzying vertigo stepping out of a spiral, the view becomes clear, as if finally finding the source of wafting, permeating decay
Contentment empties the glue of flavor and steals the scissors of artistry but constant irritation and insatiable hunger remain to this arsonist of bridges with nothing I’ve left what indelible marks will topple to the tongue?
Refreshment wriggles among the moles under the tent of solitude having vacated the house with ideas, but left the kitchen sink to the fruit flies the dark, fresh-earth tunnels adumbrate new and curious spaces for contemplation where crawling, not seeing, may nourish new understanding
I had planned to continue to some more redrafting, but I hadn’t imagined the big changes I already made today. What do you think? Is the poem improved? Does it make more sense? I would love to hear your thoughts of the pros and cons of the changes while I let it sit until tomorrow. I hope you’re enjoying the process as much as I am.
The seed yet planted has potential it may be the one to burst into sprout the tiny green hope watched by the discerning eye not ignored as the yellow flowers in the garden, the kale gone to seed soon composted to clear the way
That quadrille (a poem of 44 words) in response to today’s dVerse Poets Pub prompt, feels like a great way to start this week’s adventure in revision. Merril’s prompt “seed” is also a fun tie-in, because it’s a Janus word.
Now that the April challenges have ended and I have over thirty new poems drafted, it’s time to think about revision. Last year in May, I had the same idea. I read a lot of posts and books and started charting my revision process in my poetry notebook. I’m going to attempt to approach each draft as a seed, full of potential.
Here’s what I have come up with thus far:
After letting a poem rest a while, come back to it as if reading someone else’s poem for the first time. What do I like about it? What don’t I like about it?
Here is my review checklist:
Identify POV, tense, form, voice
words to mind map
highlight the best lines
mark weak verbs & nouns
mark areas to expand
highlight cliche language
choose what to edit to (theme, idea)
make notes to guide re-write
Here are some ideas to try while redrafting a poem:
Choose the best lines and freewrite. Dig down, find the deeper meaning.
Use the best line as the beginning of a new poem.
For each line, write its opposite. Search for the turn in the poem.
Cut each line in half. Write a new beginning and/or ending for each line.
Write the poem in different POVs and tenses to find the strongest telling.
Expand, write past the ending. Tighten, to it’s most succinct telling.
Force into a form, or change from formal form to free verse.
Read the poem aloud. Feel the words in your mouth. Sing it to your favorite songs. Walk to it. Dance to it. Feel the rhythm. Have the computer read it aloud. Highlight anything that doesn’t flow, that doesn’t sound right, anything that feels forced or doesn’t fit.
When you feel ready for some feedback, you might want to try Poetry Free-For-All, an online poetry workshop for poets to exchange critiques. There is a lot of useful information in the forums including A Workshop for One.
I like that poets giving critiques are called critters. It makes me think of the campy horror movies. It’s fun to imagine getting poetry feedback from balls of fur with sharp teeth.
Take the useful feedback and things you’ve liked from reading and listening to other poets talking about their work and come to your poem again with a fresh, critical eye. Read it aloud until it feels good in your mouth and body while clearly expressing your intended meaning.
I thought it would be fun and useful to take the first poem I wrote this April, since it has had a good rest, and demonstrate each step through the entire process as a series of posts this week.
An impression arrests the fruit flies in kitchen sinks full of ideas frozen in mid-irritation, fleeting yet multiplying before your eyes what indelible marks will topple to the tongue and adumbrate the growing clutch
Contentment empties the glue of flavor and steals the scissors of artistry the constant irritation and insatiable hunger –of those fruit flies, feeding in the sinks– sketch an impression of furious flight
Refreshment wriggles among the moles under the tent of solitude having vacated the house with the ideas, but left the kitchen sink to the fruit flies the dark, fresh-earth tunnels adumbrate new and curious spaces for contemplation where crawling, not seeing, may nourish new understanding
This poem draft follows a form I created myself that for now I call the Jar and Janus form. I started collecting words in vases last year when I enjoyed the Coursera course Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop with Douglas Kearney for the second time. While working with abstract and concrete nouns, I decided to create vases full of each, to make random connections to spark ideas.
For each stanza of this poem, the form (followed loosely) is:
Over at the A to Z Challenge they’re playing the Yes Game. My Janus word is yield which can mean; to give up, surrender, or relinquish, but also; to produce by natural process.
Today is Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub where you can share your best recent poem and read and comment on all the great poetry being shared.
This is the window
with the slightly broken sill covered in flakes of pop-corn ceiling with semi-sheer blinds that when open tuck up all wrinkled on one side through this dusty, cobwebbed window revealed by off-white sheers belted to hooks where a speck of a beige-dotted bug climbs there’s a once thought impossible view
because for my whole life it was blocked by next door’s tall firs providing cool shade lakeside my great aunt told me she did it on purpose to hurt her brother next door a family feud of unnatural proportion wielding God’s power one sibling on another imagine each day’s hurt never recovered
But they’re all gone now and I can finally see past the iron railing, the rhodie, and the hedge to the rippling water, a dock, and a buoy to the houses and the park, but above that what this table was so long deprived is the sky filled with mountain– ignore the threatening volcano inside– massive contrasts of blue and white glacier and rock, snow blanketed slopes it’s never not amazing, not one single time I look, even hiding behind complete cloud cover when a stranger wouldn’t know it’s there
I tried to think of any other window where I would rather look and suddenly, I am in the international space station, looking down on Earth my body is confined, but my view through this small portal is as if the eye of God. To see the sphere its atmosphere floating in the void to know the glorious insignificance of momentary stresses, bringing overwhelming strife, but seeing all connection of a day in life
But there’s no coming back from that I’ve already known what new seeing can do, would I want to add that fractured knowing too?
I only have this window for a ticking-clock of time, I want to be aware, to take in each tick of this view while it’s sublime, the years of firs blocking the way flew so quickly by knowing there are limits, a coming end erases the flaws in the pane, even the baked-on bird gifts that won’t scrape with a blade, all I see gleams this view holds a vivid shine
At the A to Z Challenge they are turning their thoughts to what’s next. At the end of the challenge in May, I’ll be back to my revision focus. What is your revision plan? What is your revision process?
The Janus phrase for today is wind up meaning (1) To start; (2) to finish.
The poetics prompt at the dVerse Poets Pub today is about poetry as a bridge and includes the puente form. Here’s hoping it will help me bridge all my ideas.
Each time I try to imagine the life of every human I wind up faced with the limitations of my perception I thought I might start with those in the houses I see, try to have empathy for their children and spouses a plot at a time, from the blue rambler to the three-story brown but that’s already too much, overwhelmed I shut down
~because I don’t believe it’s possible~
to know every tiny blue flower along the drive or each of the purple heather visited by bees it would take all my time to give each a name recognize each quality that is not the same and that’s but the surface, as precious and delicate as we are we may as well be numerous as the heavenly stars
The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem about the meaning of your first or last name.
The April PAD prompt is to write a poem inspired by your immediate surroundings.
My Janus word for the A to Z Challenge is left. As a past tense verb, it means “to have gone”; as an adjective, it means “remaining.”
Because I’ve often written about the mountain (Berg in Swedish means mountain), I thought adding a structure or form would help inspire something unique, so I took a look at the Poetics prompt from yesterday over at the dVerse Poets Pub.
I’m glad I did, because it got me thinking about all the fun adventures I’ve had on the mountain and the animals I’ve met there. Kim’s prompt was inspired by the poem The Print the Whales Make by Marjorie Saiser as was my poem.
Black Bear’s Branch
I freeze. You haven’t seen it yet the thick, dark fur tucked among the fir trunks We are too close, my heart jackhammers with fear and fascination Is that how we are: a dangerous shape a few steps off the path? Too late. Can’t go back. But looking up at those sky-filling slopes with awe, I remember the deer and the fox prancing also encountered there and the way the bear licked at the grass, not bothered by the branch still attached to his bum, so peacefully grazing I didn’t notice him until I had left him behind on the return path he wasn’t interested in me and my fear of black bears in dark forests of fascination on the sky-filling slopes slanted sunlight on snow glinting promise of new bear sightings another day
Today at the dVerse Poets Pub, the Poetics prompt is to write an opposite poem. Lisa offered up an amazing video called The Opposites Game from TED Ed that I highly recommend watching.
I thought it would be fun to start with one of my own old poems and create its “opposite.” I started with a NaPoWriMo poem from last year called A future voice in the dark.
Another future voice in the dark
You demand I unlearn the light leaving the past unseen stacattos played allegro under the facades of blank stares
that direct route the straight line is known weightless without speed smooth without old disadvantages
many blank surfaces, many original sounds severe, substantial discomforts close cacophonies of what will be
That was really fun. Reminded me of the poetry MadLibs I did with some of my old poems last summer. (Those this one makes a lot more sense). I think I’ll be trying this technique a lot more. This could lead to some nice two-column, reflective poems.
Peering out my wine windows tinted and clouded at a swirling landscape of bitter-sweets the view skewed by tannins and cork floaters among the cloudy reveries shuttering my wine windows I delve the cellars deep for lofty thoughts and epiphanies before the heady kerplunk