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Archive for November, 2007

David Maybury

Poem a day challenge

So here it is, the last Poem a day challenge. Apologies for missing yesterday, work on the PIR 92 is almost done. On Tuesday we will be picking the best poem/contributor, the exact competition specs are yet to be decided, who will win the magnificent mystery prize.

The final challenge:

We haven’t talked too much about voice in poetry, the I, we, he, she of the poem. So for today why not try writing a poem with a strong personality – a character who gives something of themselves to the reader. They can be real, fictional or just yourself.

One that comes to mind is Ian McMillan’s Ted Hughes is Elvis Presley.

Looking forward to reading your poems and if any of you have other suggestions of poems with personality post them here – the more the merrier.

Enjoy the weekend.

David Maybury

Poem a day challenge

In the run up to the end of the month (and our big final award winning day) I thought you might like to try something a little different. Why not try your hand at writing a lyric? Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Bernie Taupin, Joni Mitchell… each of them have written words with music in mind. Or vice versa.

We’re not asking you to write the music too (unless you are exceptionally talented) but write the words with a song in mind… rewrite the lyrics to a song maybe?

There is a science behind writing song lyrics: repetitions, line length, meter, and the amount of breaths… etc. This might not be to your liking; you could try a lyric poem?

Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, 1962I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’,
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world,
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’,
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’,
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter

David Maybury

Poem a day challenge

There is only five days to go until the end of November. That leaves us with five challenges. Seeing as it is a Monday I thought I would set a task that didn’t involve too much research. Why not try a sonnet?

Wikipedia has a full explanation and I’m including Robert Frost’s Mowing for effect…

Mowing
There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound—
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labour knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.

David Maybury

Poem a day challenge

Following on from the lipograms yesterday, well done to anyone who managed to get one out, we have cooked up something that should keep you busy throughout the weekend.

A Kenning. How to explain it though… (Wikipedia have a lengthy explanation of it here) but broken down it works similarly to the lipogram. In a kenning you replace words like ’sea’ with a metaphorical name, such as, ‘whale-path’ or ’swan-road’.

There is a list of historical kennings here, but I thought it would be much more interesting to come up with your own. Pick a poem and give a whirl… oh and, have a good weekend!!

David Maybury

Poem a day challenge

So for today – try a lipogram. A lipogram is a written work that deliberately omits a certain letter of the alphabet by avoiding all words that include that letter. `Lipo’ actually means `lacking’ – in this case lacking a letter.

An example of a contemporary lipogram is the nursery rhyme, `Mary Had a Little Lamb‘, rewritten without the letter s:

Mary had a little lamb
With fleece a pale white hue,
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb kept her in view;
To academe he went with her,
Illegal, and quite rare;
It made the children laugh and play
To view a lamb in there.

A contemporary British lipogrammarian, Gyles Brandreth specialises in dropping a different letter from each of Shakespeare’s plays. All I’s were excluded from Hamlet, rendering the famous soliloquy: `To be or not to be; that’s the query’.

Looking forward to reading all of your concoctions.

David Maybury

Poem a day challenge

My turn to play catch up – sorry for missing yesterday. I had the theme but not the time… (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

The theme I have come up with yesterday (now today) was love. The love poem has been sabotaged by cliché and stereotypes but it survives, just, to this day. Carol Ann Duffy’s collection Rapture is a collection of love poems, positive and negative.

Wendy Cope’s On A Train

The book I’ve been reading
rests on my knee. You sleep.

Its beautiful out there -
fields, little lakes and winter trees
in February sunlight,
every car park a shining mosaic.

Long, radiant minutes,
your hand in my hand
still warm, still warm.

David Maybury

Poem a day challenge

With less than two weeks left in November the Poem a day challenge has picked up a dedicated following – and some great poems have been produced so far. I’m going to keep away from poetic forms and rhyming schemes for a few more days and give you a few more themes. It was politics over the weekend, so for Monday how about work?

Taking my queue from Deane’s poem Lamenting Leisure and the conversation that followed – what is your take on work? Everyone has to do it – and you can like it, loathe it or even get hooked on it. What about the money? What about overtime? Or the tax returns, as Taobh Gael put it? Now’s your chance to immortalise the boss in verse or celebrate that Friday feeling.

Samuel Menashe’s poem Self Employed

Piling up the years
I awake in one place
And find the same face
Or counting the time
Since my parents died -
Certain less is left
Then was spent -
I am employed
Every morning
Whose ore I coin
Without knowing
How to join
Lid to coffer
Pillar to groin -
Each day hinges
On the same offer

Update:
A quick addition – another work poem, this time from Larkin (a forum favourite I think):

Toads

Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?

David Maybury

Poem a day challenge

Moving away from poetic forms and rhyming schemes to something far more straightforward for the today and the rest of the weekend: a political poem. There’s must be something happening in your head, your house, your parish, your borough, your town, your city, your country or your world that agitates you; take it on in a poem, but try and resist tub-thumping and propaganda. It might be the case  that our forum, politically, has a lefty, liberal majority; let’s hear a good right-wing political poem too, or try a persona poem where the speaker or narrator is a tyrant, a dictator, a bully in a position of power…. Enjoy!

Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.
Robert Louis Stephenson

A week is a long time in politics.
Harold Wilson

There is no right wing or left wing…there is only up wing and down wing.
Bob Dylan

The act of poetry is a rebel act.
Michael Hartnett

And as always, this is just a suggestion, participants are welcome to come up with their own for each day. The Poetry Ireland Forum plays host to all of the entries so far – click here to have a look at what people are writing.

David Maybury

Poem a day challenge

Following on from yesterdays shape poems (some really great entries from yesterday) today’s challenge is a very clever play on words, inspired by Julia Copus’s poem The Back Seat of my Mothers Car. The poem is really written twice, forwards and then backwards – changing the meaning completely.

Have a read for yourselves:

We left before I had time
to comfort you, to tell you that we nearly touched
hands in that vacuous half-dark. I wanted
to stem the burning waters running over me like tiny
rivers down my face and legs, but at the same time I was reaching out
for the slit in the window where the sky streamed in,
cold as ether, and I could see your fat mole-fingers grasping
the dusty August air. I pressed my face to the glass;
I was calling to you – Daddy! – as we screeched away into
the distance, my own hand tingling like an amputation.
You were mouthing something I still remember, the noiseless words
piercing me like that catgut shriek that flew up, furious as a sunset
pouring itself out across the sky. The ensuing silence
was the one clear thing I could decipher -
the roar of the engine drowning your voice,
with the cool slick glass between us.

With the cool slick glass between us,
the roar of the engine drowning, your voice
was the one clear thing I could decipher -
pouring itself out across the sky, the ensuing silence
piercing me like that catgut shriek that flew up, furious as a sunset.
You were mouthing something: I still remember the noiseless words,
the distance, my own hand tingling like an amputation.
I was calling to you, Daddy, as we screeched away into
the dusty August air. I pressed my face to the glass,
cold as ether, and I could see your fat mole-fingers grasping
for the slit in the window where the sky streamed in
rivers down my face and legs, but at the same time I was reaching out
to stem the burning waters running over me like tiny
hands in that vacuous half-dark. I wanted
to comfort you, to tell you that we nearly touched.
We left before I had time.

Hopefully this will springboard some great ideas for you all to play with – I’m all for clever word plays. Looking forward to seeing what can all come up with. And as always, this is just a suggestion, participants are welcome to come up with their own for each day. The Poetry Ireland Forum plays host to all of the entries so far – click here to have a look at what people are writing.

David Maybury

Poem a day challenge

Today’s challenge could have some interesting results – using the computer and the web opens up some great possibilities for visual poetry.
One of the best examples I have seen is John Hollanders, Swan and Shadow: (click the text to make it larger)

There is lots of scope for playing with words and form using the shape of the lines. The internet has a lot of examples – the links from wikipedia come up with some weird and wonderful results, including Kaldron Magazine. Can’t wait to see you all come up with – and don’t forget the daily tasks are only suggestions, feel free to deviate.

Visit the Poem A Day forum page here.