The dynamic Fiona Robyn, creator of a small stone and a handful of stones is dircting this fabulous project, NaSmaStoMo, to encourage as many people as possible to write a small stone every day during January. What's a small stone? This is what she says:
What is a small stone?
A small stone is a polished moment of paying proper attention. You can see many fine examples at our sister blogzine, a handful of stones.
Why would you want to join in?
Because choosing something to write about every day will help you to connect with yourselves, with others, and with the world. It will help you to love everything you see - the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the beautiful and the ugly.
You don't have to be a 'writer' to get involved. The PROCESS of paying attention is what's important. I'd especially like 'writers' and 'non-writers' to get involved. If you'd rather not publish your small stones on a blog, you can write them in a note-book. It could change your entire year...
For more information about joining the project, and getting a badge for your blog or website, visit a river of stones. I can't think of a better way to start the year so I'll be taking part and posting my own small stones on my haiku and haibun blog an open field.
I believe that the best poetry looks at the world from a slant point of view. If, as poets, we approach a subject straight on, talk directly about our ideas and feelings, we can risk being overly sentimental or didactic. And no one really enjoys reading things that either make us feel like a voyeur or someone on the receiving end of a finger wagging lesson.
Can you write a 'credo' poem, a list things you, or someone else, believes in, but make that poem speak to other people too? I think part of this poem's success is how it shifts between points of view, from I to you to we. What matters to the narrator becomes something that matters to the reader (the personal you), to the world in general (the universal you), and to all of us (we).
I like how concrete images are set against abstract ideas: justice/cottongrass and bunchberry, clocks break/time goes on. I like the swings between opposites: weaker/stronger, sea/land. And I like how the rhythm of the poem changes with the enjambement (the read on lines) between the last two stanzas, how it gently extends our reading, and thus our understanding.
There's a quiet voice behind the poem, but it has authority too. The use of the first person, the I, often has that effect.
I suggest a poem of no more than 40 lines that draws on some of the craft choices in this poem: juxtaposition of image and idea, shifts between opposites, and a deliberate choice of point/s of view.
Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.
I'm astonished at his comparison of a dying galaxy with a snowflake falling on water. That juxtaposition of something so huge with something so small wouldn't have occurred to me, but it works so well, doesn't it? And the image acts as a vehicle for so many ideas too: how small we are, how everything is connected, how even 'death' can be beautiful. I'm sure there are more.
My poetry prompt is to write a poem, not using the 'Above/Below' structure that Kooser uses, but 'Behind/Ahead' instead. So, you can talk about the past/future, or something more concrete like the sea and the mountains, or something closer to you like the kitchen and the bedroom. It's up to you.
BUT your poem can only be 8 lines long, the same length as Kooser's, and it should compare, or juxtapose, two things that we might not expect to see connected.