Thursday, March 18, 2010

End at the End

Not a very snappy title for a prompt but I was playing against the title of a previous prompt 'Begin at the Beginning'... and because I mentioned in another post how difficult it can be to end a poem. Too direct an ending can lock out the reader, prevent them from entering and making the poem their own. Or worse, come across as didactic, or too telling, and no-one wants a finger wagged in their face at the end of a poem. But too oblique an ending can have the reader turning the page wondering if the last few lines have been left off! I've done that myself, while reading poems and stories!

So, what you'll find below is a list of last lines, or the two final lines of a poem you will write. It's a bit like going on a journey and having a destination in mind but not having any idea where you need to start from :)

As you can see, all the endings are taken from published poems but I suggest you write your own before checking to see how the original poet arrived there.

I can comment on upto 2 poems you may choose to post, and I recommend that they're no longer than 40 lines. That's a standard length in poetry competitions so it's not a bad idea to work with that every now and again.

Here are the endings:

1. until one world rings truer than the other.
(Michael Donaghy, 'My Flu')

2. the corpses of angels.
(Carolyn Forche, 'Selective Service')

3. from the root of the old one/ a new one has sprung.
(Grace Nichols, 'Epilogue')

4. you have no place in the world.
(Louise Gluck, 'Mirror Image')

5. I touch/ a flake of his skin.
(Pamela Gillilan, 'Four Years')

6. That astounded me most of all.
(Stephen Dunn, 'Each from Different Heights')

Write well.
L x

Monday, March 08, 2010

Capturing a ritual

The following poem is taken from 'Poems on the Underground' :

Loving the Rituals

Loving the rituals that keep men close,
Nature created means for friends apart:

pen, paper, ink, the alphabet,
signs for the distant and disconsolate heart.

Palladas (4th Century AD)
trans. by Tony Harrison

The ritual of letter writing might not be as prevalent in our lives as it was, but we have other rituals, don't we? We might call them habits... although if there's something comforting in them, an aspect of the activity that gives us something - pleasure, delight, comfort - then perhaps we should refer to them as rituals.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I've got into the habit of picking up my cat in the mornings and looking out of the window with her. We look at birds, clouds, the neighbours leaving for work. I can feel her heartbeat under my palm. I feel very still.

I have a ritual of never leaving the house without kissing my husband goodbye.

When he worked as a professional entertainer and got home in the early hours of the morning I used to leave out a china mug, with the teabag and sugar already in it, and the kettle ready to boil.

I think we need rituals of some kind in our life, and while they can be religious or spiritual, I don't believe they necessarily have to be in order to connect us to ourselves or other people, or entities.

Can you capture a ritual in 4 lines? Well, perhaps 8 at the most : ) Aim for concentration.

I'll work on one myself.

Write well.
L x

Monday, March 01, 2010

Begin at the Beginning

Thanks to Erin for suggesting a poetry prompt where we start with a title and see what evolves. And in honour of St. David's Day (Patron Saint of Wales), today 1st March, here are some titles from poems written by Welsh poets during the last 510 years : )

Choose one, and run with it. Or choose several and do some relays. And share your final draft with us, please.

The Angry Summer
Blood Donor
Day Trip
Every Single Night
Getting It Wrong Again
Let's Hear It for Goliath
My Grandfather and His Apple Tree (perhaps change apple-tree to something else?)
Thoughts on Happiness

Write well.
L x