06 April 2011


Ready for the Best Poetry Game on the Planet???

letter W ampersand & letter Q
letter I letter I

I hope you are, because playing hardball paid off for me and Word & Question has found hosts for April and May!

April -- Crosses and Cradles -- Deadline for Prompts: 8 April

May -- Very Sleepy People

Thanks to Dauvit and Lindsay! =)

Now you might be wondering what I do for prompts during the rest of the month. Well, there are times when I completely neglect poetry--and those are the times when I barely make the deadline and/or am totally unsatisfied with what I have to submit. So I've resolved to practice more.

These days, whenever I come across a particularly good word or an especially good question days before I have to worry about official prompts, I try to write something on the spot. Last week, thanks to one book I was reading aloud to my brother Cue-card Boy and another book I started rereading for Locus Focus, I found some excellent prompts . . .

He looked at the worn bits of cloth, the doll's head, and the pins with pearl tops. In the daylight there were other things he had not noticed before. There had been a robin's egg, but it was crushed. Tiny slips of newspaper were scattered throughout, each one with a different strange word on it. "Luminous," read one. "Soliloquy," read another.

. . . I am not very interested in genealogy, but maybe what I am doing [in Genesee Abbey] and what many young people are doing in the Washington Archives is not so different after all: We are searching for our roots. For those who have heard little, if anything, about God's entry into history through His son, Jesus Christ, the Washington Archives are a quite understandable place to start looking for an answer to the question, "What is my past and what does that tell me about myself here and now?"

If you're wondering why I didn't go with "luminous"--which would have been my first choice--that was because I didn't remember what it was when I started writing and didn't have the first book with me. =P

Word: Soliloquy
Question: "What is my past and what does that tell me about myself here and now?"

History is no soliloquy; it takes
many voices -- not just one

to tell the trees
the meaning of
the smallest

to tell the seas
the meaning of
a grain of

to tell the world
the meaning of
an unborn

And then it takes an audience
to plant the seed
to taste the salt
to love the child
to add the


Yes, it's free verse! It's a form I'm not too crazy about. As you can see, there are still patterns all over the place, if not rhyme and meter.

Image Sources: a) The Spiderwick Chronicles #1: The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, b) The Genesee Diary by Henry J.M. Nouwen


dylan said...

I detect a base of iambic dimeter, a two-beat line, adhered to with some regularity! And some flexibility, to be sure.

(Is it vexing that I notice the form before I notice the substance?)

This poem is clear and lucid and in its own quiet way, quite splendid. Brava!

Dauvit Balfour said...

You know, ideologically I hate the notion of free verse, but I've found that it often lets me do fun things with words, so I've come to a sort of cautious alliance with the form-lack.

I really like this poem, quite a lot. I'm fond of the way the tempo picks up and ties together in the last stanza, like the ends of a hyperbolic universe.

Also, soliloquy was totally my word for the first game I participated in.

Enbrethiliel said...


Dylan -- Not at all! Notice away! The discipline of wrestling what I knew of the substance into a form that worked for it really opened my eyes to what the substance was really about. Form rocks!

Dauvit -- Now I'm glad to read that the tempo "ties together" at the end, because it matches the imagery tying together, too. =)

And I remembered your "soliloquy" entry! That's why I kind of wanted to do "luminous" instead. =P But I guess this repeater worked out, since you're happy with the poem.