When thinking about need, the easiest to define are physical needs: hunger, thirst, sleep, shelter, etc. American psychologist Abraham Maslow presented the theory that human actions are motivated by certain physiological needs in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Maslow presented a hierarchy of needs and postulated that when a lower level of need is filled, attention is focused on the next level.
Need and want are easily confused. Even with our most basic needs, we eat when not hungry because of a craving, or drink when not thirsty for energy or to stay alert. Need is an ache. Need tugs and gnaws. Need can cause people to act in unpredictable and irregular ways.
When I think of need visually, I think of a spiral, the way a person can spiral when needs aren’t met. I tried both a spiral-cut filter, and a wire spiral in a square filter, for the idea of three square meals, and getting square. Though I like the symbolism of the spiral in the square, I am in LOVE with my new spiral filter.
“When I need to sneeze, when I feel that tickle coming, I touch the tip of my nose with the pad of my right index finger and it usually stops. The sneeze just dissipates, disappears, goes back to wherever those violent, explosive, breath-stealers originate. How do I know to touch my nose just so? When did I learn to say no to my nose when it wants to explode? I don’t know. Perhaps it was ancient knowledge asleep in my cells that awoke one day when I wanted to stay quiet at a lecture or in a concert hall, and felt threatened by an approaching sneeze, or perhaps I was holding someone’s hand and liked the texture and pressure of touch and didn’t want to jerk my hand away to cover flying spit, didn’t want to wipe snot on my sleeve,so I tried to wiggle my nose like in Bewitched but didn’t have control over the small muscles in my face so I used the index finger of my free hand to manually move my nose to make magic with but a touch.”
A vacancy needs filling, this ache tugs with gravitation, black-hole torn the roof away gives to stinging hail a brittle grasp on reason’s crumbs to break the barren seed now sprouts with thorns and vines woven into storm-drawn sail the spiral swirls when need’s a deep bruise pressed hunger turns to feed on its own tail but finds a nub, the point through worry worn on a bed of nails, sheets held with claws caress when need’s for sale
Hope is “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; a feeling of desire for something and confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment; a thing, situation, or event that is desired.”
For today’s images I thought of hope as a bud opening, or about to open. I explored perspective and exposure with budding flowers inside and outside.
Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS)
Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness is “how.” Here’s an excerpt from today’s morning pages in my journal:
How can I turn things around? How do I drum up interest; stand out from the crowd? How do I create a craving for my aesthetic–not my know how, but my snow how? How will I break through? Part the sea of noise. Float to the top of the muddy puddle. Breaking the molds leaves me seeping shapeless in all directions. A movement that could spread, but how? How can feel hopeless when there is no answer that works. How can dishearten when no solution is found. But floundering is often a way through how, for now, casting a wide net, throwing out all the hooks, until the right one bites.
The Poetry Prompts
Today’s prompt is a form prompt to write a nonet: a poem of nine lines with descending syllables.
Hope breaks through last night’s disappointments. How does she find the way each dawn through the heaps of discarded broken dreams’ jagged shards? Hope slips through unscarred cool and shining in the slant morn light how?
Hope breaks the mold of expectation. How does she keep leaping caution, springing from the darkest hours where nightmares cloud reason? Hope jumps unstartled unique and new a glimmer of thought how?
Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt “rope” inspired me to get out and take some pictures. Living near water and boats, rope takes on a special meaning of securing connection. Here’s an excerpt from my journal this morning:
“I was tied in knots. The rope fraying, unraveling, the rope tossed, wasn’t fastened at the other end and fell in a heap when I tried to climb.
“Unroped the weak trunk/stalk bends; the boat floats from the dock lost; the vines don’t rise.
“Roped the weak fibers grow strong; twisted and entwined the brittle become bendable; the separable, inseparable; the meek, brave. Rope connects the floating to the stable; tethers the roaming home; anchors the flighty to ground. Rope can tear and burn the skin when held, but also holds the opposing as they pull, growing stronger as they repel.” ~Maria L. Berg
The dVerse Poets prompt from Thursday was to try the Synchronicity form. I started playing with it yesterday, but didn’t get very far, so I thought I would try again today. The form is a non-rhyming poem of 8 three-line stanzas. Each stanza has a syllable count of 8,8,2. It is in first person and has a twist presented in the last two stanzas.
The rope hangs from the reaching branch of the ancient maple next door waiting
Its looped shadow reflects below changing as a breeze whispers through the leaves
I believe it has always hung there, dry, aged, and fraying, yet strong enough
The branch may be the weaker link How much weight will it take before it breaks?
An eagle screams as the others gather and motion me over to join
The threat of danger makes my bare skin erupt with goosebumps as I shiver
One after another they climb, put a foot in the loop, and swing Scream! Splash!
This time I will dare to let go of the rope swing and fly into the lake
a sudden interest overpowers calm and everywhere I look a present falls like plums too high to pluck now in my palm enthralling rubber skin to sweetness calls excite my senses newness all around abundance fills my morning breakfast air the plop of ready fruit, adventure’s sound what foreign taste awaits for me to dare once hidden, now the joy in looking found
I finished this poem right on time to go combine my shrubs. I made:
plum & honey + apple cider vinegar with basil
plum & agave + balsamic vinegar with sage
For my cocktail I used equal parts rum, the balsamic shrub and tonic water. Sounds weird, but it’s tasty and has a nice bite. Here’s to trying new things! Make your way to the bar and request a sample. 🙂
I really enjoyed this example of emulating another poem. John Murillo took the idea of learning to lose and made it his own. Lockward points out that Murillo does more than keep the theme. He uses repetition as Bishop does, repeating the many forms of “lose,” using many words that start with L, and like Bishop, he writes in imperatives as if giving directions.
So one way to emulate a poem is to write to the theme. Another is to make a list of techniques employed by the poet.
My redrafts emulating three different poems
Back in Part Four of this demonstration I announced which poems I had chosen and did some research into the poets. For this exercise, I chose Dead Stars by Ada Limón, Ode by Jane Huffman, and News by Ben Purkert.
So here’s my process for emulating a poem so far:
read lots of poems
pick a few poems I like
research the poets, learn about their process
learn about the poem
What’s next? I need to decide how emulating this poem will improve the poem I’m working on. I’m going to ask myself some questions as I read the poem again.
Ada Limón gives us a clue into her intent and feelings about “Dead Stars” in this video
Why did I choose this poem? I chose this poem because I enjoy the creative combinations of imagery. I was drawn to the mundane becoming philosophical and daring.
What do I like about it? I like the spoken words in italics (not quotes) used twice. I like the questions and what ifs that are somewhat random but make sense because we are all part of the big band, the dead stars.
What technique(s) do I want to try? She uses questions, speech, and of the senses in her details. She creates some interesting double turns/twists in the set up with: It’s almost romantic . . . until you say . . . And it’s true.
How will this improve my poem? I think this twisting language could help improve my poem. My narrator is in a dizzying, swirling, vertigo of facing facts that lead to sudden and life-changing reality, so her language dealing with it could be more twisty. Some dialogue in italics is worth giving a try as well.
In kitchen sinks full of ideas, there’s an impression that even arrests fruit flies Summer’s sandpaper tongue down our throats jealousy, worry, rage all frozen mid-irritation like tinnitus so acute it becomes a wasp nesting in your ear
I am a woodpile of ants in heat: a carpenter of denial
My view telescopes through the broken pane to his sweat on her body behind the bale
I almost believed him as he twisted his favorite cap until he said, A man has needs, but she’s not you
Which is true, but doesn’t mean he didn’t lie when he said it was the last time
The dropped dish shatters like we all do
its pieces, still holdable, I toss into the trash
with my colors, light, hopes and ambition because the glue has lost its flavor and the scissors their artistry
Though broken, I still hunger and itch
the clicking, clacking pieces find junction. How
will I survive without? After indelible marks topple to the tongue?
What if I can ignore and forget? What if he says Stay. Please stay, and I cave.
I didn’t burn the curtains and the bridge?
What would happen if I left with nothing opened, bare, clean of sticky coating
with hope of refreshment in bonding earth nutrients growing, bonding
if I find new understanding wriggling among the moles under the tent of solitude
Why did I choose this poem? I like the repetition and how it builds movement.
What do I like about it? The subtle changes and double meanings of words in repetitions.
What technique(s) do I want to try? The repetition of words in slight rearrangement creates the idea of smaller and larger circles while also talking about small and large circles.
How will this improve my poem? Because my poem talks about swirling and vertigo. I think I can use some of this style of repetition to get some of the spin my narrator is going through to come to life.
An impression arrests fruit flies. The fruit flies are arrested in kitchen sinks full of ideas. The ideas, frozen in mid-irritation are like tinnitus introducing vertigo. I am dizzy with vertigo. I hear buzzing. I am spinning, spiraling, falling. I am falling. The ground falls away and I am dropping, my arms and my dress fly above my head as I plummet, my pinky toe the stoical point. The pinky toe somehow holds on. Like a pin holding strings connecting to what got me here, to a truth, or many truths long forgotten. That pinky toe pointed, curled and maimed from point-shoes leads the other toes and the foot stepping from the spiral and though dizzy, dizzy and disoriented I see clearly, my view telescopes to his sweat on her body, not hidden by the bale, the dry wasted bale that should have sold, should have fed. I see the clarity distorted in his drops of sweat on her younger body as if finally finding the source of wafting, wind-blown odor of putrid, rotting decay. The putrid decay of our love that had swirled, dizzyingly around until arrested by an impression, here, now, as I stand at the kitchen sink.
Why did I choose this poem? I related to the wind talking and asking my to see.
What do I like about it? I like the juxtapositions creating a different, broader meaning
What technique(s) do I want to try? Again, the spoken words in italics. This time using italics as a shape the wind turns the grass into as well as speech. It’s a great idea. In two quick lines, he turns a believable news fact about sardines into a derogatory accusation.
How will this improve my poem? My poem already has some interesting juxtapositions. What could I cut to make the mind jump? Is there a “news” fact that would paint a picture juxtaposed against an unfounded judgement that would bring the reader to make interesting connections?
An impression of fruit flies in furious flight sketches the words, Think. Can you imagine? contentment empties glue of flavor and steals scissors of sharp cuts. Today, Ms. Winters, the Mayor of Little Town was recalled for having a litter in her office Her predecessor was quoted as saying, I told you she could never do the job as well as a man. She wouldn’t stop licking the blood from their heads: blind and mewling in the box. Think. Can you imagine? The hunger says this is dying season and– What indelible marks will topple to the tongue? Like a bridge burner who can’t turn around Maybe refreshment is nothing but moles digging holes under the tent of solitude I will get there, won’t I? To the dark fresh-earth tunnels where scraping, not smoothing, may nourish understanding
Summing up redrafting
There are so many options for redrafting a poem. I’m excited to try some new things when I revise my next poem. For this demonstration, however, we’ve covered a lot. I think the most important thing for redrafting are the questions I asked myself at the beginning:
What are my motivations for redrafting this poem?
What do I like about it?
What don’t I like about it?
If you recall from Part One of this demonstration, I said, “It feels cluttered. There’s too much that isn’t clear. I want to know more of the story, the character, motivations, and conflict.” Toward that end, I think writing the narrative poem was a great first redraft. The opposites game draft, combined with the original then split lines, were the next most helpful generative drafts.
The new redrafting techniques: Thesaurus game and Put a color on it, didn’t influence this poem very much, but they were enormously helpful with some other poems I was revising.
I’m very excited about the new digital tools I found: Poemage and Scandroid. I imagine I’ll have a lot of fun with them as I continue revising my poems.
Now that my redrafting toolbox is overflowing, an important part of the Review process will be choosing the correct tools for an efficient and effective redraft.
I will read over all of my redrafts and let them inform me as I make some decisions about changes to my original poem. Then I will post it to Scribophile for critique.
While I wait for some feedback, I will continue to learn from other poets. I realized, while writing the post about meter, that I haven’t focused as much on listening to poetry as I have reading poetry. I will work on that through the How Writers Write Poetry MOOCs, YouTube videos, listening to the audio on Poets.org, and exploring some poetry Podcasts.
I enjoyed this video of Naomi Shihab Nye talking about revision.
I also liked some of the things that Juan Felipe Herrera said during this talk. He said once you’ve thrown the words on the page, anything else is a new poem. “If you revise a poem long enough, you have a whole book.”
Using the revision process I’ve been demonstrating, I find his statement is so true. This one short poem, the first one of thirty from NaPoWriMo, has already generated thirty new poems! Think of it: if I took each of the new drafts through the entire process so far, I would have 900 poems and then if I redrafted those . . . One of them would have to be good, right? 😉
Looking over my favorite lines from my two upside-down poems in the last post, I started noticing some interesting, slightly altered repetition. But before we jump into the next round of drafts which will get us looking at rhythm and rhyme, I want to share something fun I found.
Poemage is a visual close-reading tool developed at the University of Utah for exploring the interaction of sonic patterns in poetry. I downloaded the free beta version, saved my poem draft as a .txt file and put it in the program’s poems file. Here is the Poemage analysis of my draft as it is now.
Having only begun to play with this tool, I can see how it will be useful during redrafting. Here’s the analysis of the vowel slant rhymes in my poem.
I started looking at the purple “EY” words and enjoy how they sound together:
embrace decay, vacated frame remains, erasable spaces may flavor irritation.
That’s a poem right there. Let’s look at light green “EH”:
stepping where refreshment telescopes impression let dress arrest empty heads tent indelible contentment
Not as easily a poem, but I can imagine those words in some interesting rhymes.
Force into form
At the end of demonstration four I talked about the four forms I chose for this demonstration: Trolaan, Synchronicity, Ottava Rima, and Nove Otto. I like using RhymeZone to explore my rhyming options. Let’s get started.
Trolaan This form is made of four quatrains (stanza of four lines) with an abab rhyme scheme. There is also a rule about the first letter of each line of each stanza. I’m going to play with the slant rhymes I identified above instead of exact rhymes for this one.
Body Wriggles an Empty Head
An impression arrests all fruit flies in frame after dizzying dress a spiral of space
No contentment embraces nor kitchen sinks emptied nourish erasable remains or navigate pinky-toe stepping
Obscured by crackling and smoke over the permeating decay onward desire in motion opening curious spaces vacated
Beneath the tent of solitude body wriggles an empty head bone bending, not breaking, ensued both imagination and flavor fed
Synchronicity This form has eight three line stanzas with the syllable count 8/8/2. It is written in first person and has a “twist” in the last two stanzas.
Flavorless Glue and Lost Scissors
cracked, speckled, broken window pane a sudden impression alerts arrests
kitchen sinks full of ideas frozen in mid-irritation stillness
like tinnitus introducing dizzying, swirling vertigo I fall
my view telescopes to his sweat on her body behind the bale the source
flavorless glue and lost scissors leave me hungry, full of desire stagnant
juggled stomach stones clack and click what marks will topple to my tongue? undone
clean of any sticky coating the bridge burner can’t turn around no choice
under the tent of solitude refreshment wriggles in the dark tunnels
Ottava Rima This form has both rhyme and syllable rules. It is written in 8 line octives. Each line has 10 or 11 syllables and follows the rhyme scheme abababcc
Before stuck by pins
An impression arrests the fruit flies in kitchen sinks full of imagination frozen in mid-irritation we spin insatiable hunger sketches impressions of furious flight before stuck by pins curious spaces for contemplation what indelible marks will come tumbling to the tongue when the stomach is rumbling?
Contentment empties the glue of flavor and steals the lost scissors of sharp-edged blades leaping from dizzy existence, I waver with nothing I’ve left, clean of sticky trades refreshment wriggles under the tent savored where scraping, not smoothing, may nourish new shades having abandoned the house to fruit flies in dark fresh-earth tunnels I find thought alive
Nove Otto This form also has both rhyme and syllable rules. It is a nine line poem. Each line has 8 syllables. The rhyme scheme is aacbbcddc
It all happened so fast
cracked, speckled, broken window pane fruit flies frozen over the drain what marks will topple to my tongue who knows what hateful things I’ll say now seeing through our loves decay the vertigo of years undone obscured by fire’s crackle and smoke his touch erased by rains first soak to dreams of solitude I run
Revise for Meter
I found more great resources and tools that led me to some more redrafting ideas. First, there are two free poetry MOOC Packs from The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program: How Writers Write Poetry and How Writers Write Poetry II. In Class 5 of How Writers Write Poetry, poets Richard Kenney and Bill Trowbridge present Meter, Prosody, and Scansion in fun and interesting ways. I like how Mr. Trowbridge demonstrates how different types of feet are used to emphasize an image, a metaphor and/or an emotion.
Here’s a chart of the different poetic feet
This led me to another redrafting idea. In the book The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry (Yes, the British comedian), Stephen really breaks down poetic meter with tons of examples, starting with the iamb, of course. I took up his challenge to write lines of iambic pentameter and gave a redraft of my poem in iambic pentameter a try. Here’s what I came up with.
She dreams a tent of solitude tonight a thought arrests the flies in dirty sinks I let my arms and dress fly overhead my pinky toe the point to hold the ground my view becomes his hands behind the bale a source of wafting filth, our love’s decay
content I stale, my life has lost all taste he steals my time, my art has gone to waste desire’s the buzz and itch to make me move a rumble sounds, my constant hunger stays the tongue now free, what hateful words to say the bridges burn, can’t choose to turn around
Then I found something very fun. Charles Hartman at Connecticut College created a program called Scandroid. I downloaded the free program and typed my attempt at iambic pentameter above into it. Here are the results:
How fun is that!!
This post alone opens a world of never-ending re-drafting possibilities. I can see that part of the revision plan during the review will include picking and choosing which redrafting techniques might work best for a certain poem. However, for this exploration of my process, I can see the effect of every step. The next, and final, step I’ll take in the redrafting phase of this poem’s revision is to emulate poems and poets, but I’ll save that for the next post.
When I read The Tradition by Jericho Brown, I was drawn to his duplex poems. I was fascinated by how slight changes in the repetition of a line could completely change and deepen the meaning of both lines.
He blamed the trees for his losses; roots tripping his men; branches scratching. The trees seek punitive damages beyond the grave.
Theme: How Could I Know
The prompt at OctPoWriMo.com suggests the poetry form called Joseph’s Star. It’s a syllable line rule ( Syllables are 1, 3, 5, 7, 7, 5, 3, and 1) poem like a haiku but it creates a diamond shape and you can repeat the pattern in as many stanzas as needed. I like these poetry form prompts.
could I know
a large tree would grow
when the bird dropped the seed cone
while flying over your stone
out of all the dead
and find life
did its roots
find food in old boots
of hallowed ground deep with you
do I dare imagine, too
reaching searching first drink
inside the loosened
seems of the
could I know
it would cradle you
suck in your essence like food
lift you through its veins of wood
make you one with it
are you a
Develop a story inspired by a word cloud.
#FlashFicHive Day 8 Word Cloud by Anjela Curtis
I think some of these words will work nicely with today’s prompt. Until now, I hadn’t thought of a nest with eggs in that tree. Or maybe our protagonist finds a bag full of money in a hole in the tree, or under the limb holding the grave stone or . . . Ooh, this is a treasure trove of ideas.
#RIPXII Peril On The Screen
Because my whole face and head have been invaded by the mucous monster, I spent my Saturday in bed feeling sorry for myself. To feel like I accomplished something, I decided to tackle The Peril On The Screen challenge.
Horns was not what I expected. It was much better. It had elements of dark comedy and a rich mystery wrapped up in religious symbolism and a truly horrible premise. It even had some Stand By Me moments with flashbacks to the main players as childhood friends.
This movie was a disturbing, fantasy portrayal of necrophilia. Though I liked the imaginative arts and crafts and am impressed by the obsession it took to raise the bar for fart jokes,–That bar has flown to an unimaginable new height–I felt icky and worried for the writer, director and producers when the film ended.
Watching Horns and Swiss Army Man back to back, I was impressed at how Daniel Radcliff brings his characters to “life” (Ha! Ha!), and wondered if, in trying to get away from Harry Potter, he hasn’t made some odd choices.
When I watched this movie before, I may have only caught part of it, or been distracted because, though I knew the plot and remembered the monsters in their cubes, I did not remember that the cast included the likes of Thor, Jamie from Zoo: Season 1 and the Alien huntress herself- Sigourney Weaver.
This movie is so fun. It is a lesson to writers that any trope, no matter how over used, can be seen in a new and create way.
Disney’s Dumbo aside, I think flying elephants would be terrifying. The encompassing shadows they would cast; the constant fear of “droppings.” A world with flying elephants would be a scary world indeed. Are these angels down from heaven with an ominous message? What story does this picture tell you?
#vss: very short story
The new hybrids of the flying, alien elephant and the domestic breeds were much larger than expected. Life on earth became unpleasant.Most humans lost the sense of smell.
Today’s prompt: Taste of Metal
A metallic taste in your mouth is a type of taste disorder known medically as parageusia. Common causes include new medications, pregnancy, and food allergies. In rare cases, metallic taste can be a sign of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. – from Google
Cherita (pronounced CHAIR-rita) is a linked poetry form of one-, two-, and three-line stanzas. Cherita is the Malay word for “story” or “tale” – from Poets Collective
With the preconceived notion that an elephant never forgets,
Would her parageusia be misdiagnosed
As a peanut allergy?
Ignoring the possibility of Alzheimer’s
How would she report, or debate upon contort
Winged elephants think all things taste like metal.
Backstory show & tell: protagonist
In my poem, I made the Mama flying elephant my protagonist. Will she be the protagonist in your flash fiction story? What is her backstory? How will that backstory affect her baby?