Monday, January 18, 2010

January Poetry Prompt - What will we remember

I find the following poem by Gary Snyder incredibly beautiful. I think that the stasis of it, a frozen past moment captured in the photo, is part of that, as is the rhetorical question in the first line. In haiku writing there's a term 'wabi sabi' which means, as far as I can be sure, a combination of beauty and loss. Memories often have that quality.

Looking at Pictures to Be Put Away

Who was this girl
In her white night gown
Clutching a pair of jeans

On a foggy redwood deck.
She looks up at me tender,
Calm, surprised,

What will we remember
Bodied thick with food and lovers
After twenty years.

Gary Snyder
from The Back Country
© New Directions, 1957

I wrote a poem for my grand-daughter called 'What we remember' parallelling my childhood memories with what I imagined hers might be:

What We Remember

(For Summer)

How Dadcu wore his belt buckled at the back, pulled
so tight around his skinny waist the tops of his trousers

fluted like piecrust; how he swallowed raw eggs, breaking
the yolk in the chamber of his throat; how the fire roared

behind yesterday’s paper stretched across its mouth
and Granny melted cheese in dishes on the grate,

kept an open tin of condensed milk for tea. The lumpy
featherbed, the musty wardrobe, a chocolate coloured fur coat.

And what will she remember? Her granddad throwing her
in the air, the fat china woman on the edge of my bath,

the window at floor level in her bedroom looking down
on red tiled roofs, sheep in long grass, the apple orchard?

Or the day we smeared our faces with burnt cork
and she said You are my best friend. But no,

that is what I’ll remember, and how she asked
Why do you make that funny face when you look in the mirror?

Perhaps these two poems will help inspire a poem of your own about one or several past memories.

Free write in the first instance from the phrase - What will we remember... then, when and if you feel you're ready to start shaping your words into a poem, think about form.

Short lines or long lines?
One block, or couplets, or tercets or quatrains?

Experiment with different shapes and try and identify the form that suits what you're saying, the emotional tone of the poem. And, if you'd like to, when you post your poem, add a few notes about why you've chosen that particular form.

Write well.
Lynne x

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy New Year

... to everyone who follows this blog, or has just come across it accidentally. I hope you enjoy what AppleHouse will deliver during 2010.

It's too early in the year to apply too much pressure to ourselves, so let's take it easy as far as writing a poem is concerned, and just play with lists (a little like the 2010 Wishlist, but with a different focus). Anything we write feeds into our writing practice... except emails! They just make us feel as if we're writing : )

Write a list of 10 things you have never done. Be playful, bizarre, honest, emotional, intellectual... don't try and control your writing.

Then close the list with something you have done during the course of your life, beginning with the phrase 'But once I...'. Describe this thing in detail, what happened, how you felt.

Here's my own spontaneous attempt. I look forward to reading yours.

I have never travelled across a desert.
I have never been lost.
I have never learned to tango
or how to fly a plane
or how to tell when a man is lying.
I have never left the house and kept on walking for days.
I have never lied about my age.
I have never tried to tightrope walk
or hang upside down from an acrobat’s bar.
I have never slept on sand.
But once, in a dream, I flew,
my feet lifting from the ground the way
a balloon rises in the air
and in those moments before I woke
I was incredible.

Write well.