Friday, April 15, 2016

Line by Line, I'm Already Behind!

Keeping Our Writing Commitments Creatively

As I've already mentioned, routine and I remain at odds.  As a result, I've already missed a day of writing a poem a day (actually 2 since I started on the 12th of April), but to illustrate my commitment to the venture of writing 30 poems during National Poetry Month, I'm going to try for four poems for today.

Commitment is an essential of life in friendships, work, and avocation, but we can meet them creatively as long as we continue to make our commitment known and fulfill our obligations. We'll see if I have practiced what I preach at the end of the month.

Making Writing Goals So Our Writing Grows

One of my consistent efforts as a writer is to always set a goal when I start a new writing project. The obvious goal would be to finish the project and that's a given, but I also try to take on learning more about something new.  For this month,, I'll be exploring an element of writing poetry each day and offering an article and what little insight I can offer on the subject.

For today, I thought enjambment and line breaks might be a good thing to discuss. For me, line breaks are lead by pacing, narrative gap, impacing imagery, the strength of the last line, and irony. For insights another poet has to offer on the subject, please explore this article by Rebecca Hazelton "Learning the Poetic Line".

What's In a Line Break

Pacing often determines where you break a line to create a longer pause, leave an image on a line, allow your reader to focus and process it before moving on. You can also use a line break for disruption of the pace to get a reader to stop and consider the many different ways a poem can go in that moment which can create a narrative gap--an opening in the text that can be filled by the reader and the poet simultaneous. The reader gets to the end of the line thinking one thing will happen and has that image in mind when they get to the next line which may offer another image. When a poet intentionally fills a narrative gap by inviting one image in the reader's head, then offering an alternative, they not only make use of irony, but they create impacted imagery--two images for the price of one. Gary Soto does this wonderfully in the poem "Oranges".

When the young narrator arrives to walk to the store with a girl he's sweet on

She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rogue. I smiled,

Here, we see a general gap after pulling--what's she pulling? But with "face bright" we may be thinking happiness, nervousness, or other emotional states, but then we find out it's "rogue" creating of the double meaning of emotion and make-up (a young girl of 12 acting older).

So, now for the hard work, trying to apply what I've learned in my own work..

Breaking the Surface (Poem 5 of 30)

built of chemicals, moments of friction
words barked over spilled
reaching for a glass
filled with why can't I?
The world is not scaled to her size
your hair's too big to fit in
Math has ten's place, tens frame, ten ways
to reach the other side of an equals sign
And I watch her struggle with
fitting in, filling in that blank line
The father fumes, his fire soul-scorching
sound to make her fold like a
pill bug seeking a log
I sit in stiff silence
knowing a vacuum waits to be used
a carpet uncleaned, strewn with
controlers, wrappers, and half-spoken promises
swept away by a game-filled screen
to them, these couch riding teens,
he says, "Good night"
Offers them money for work
they won't do right.
And tonight, the smoldering hits
hi-temp ignition point
breaks the surface, shooting flames
that will not bend to my will
for it is warped and ready rail

Pickle Pucker Promises   (Poem 6 of 30)

My mom, smiles, opens the fridge, saying,
"It's tradition.."
And in a family with post-turkey
belching contests, why should her retrieval
of a pickle jar surprise me?

Handing one to wispy-curled toddler
she laughs, just wait for the pucker face

That does not come.

She tastes, eyebrows raised,
chomps, chews, and shows us a palm
that's raised,

Mom's amazed.
Me, I believe a promise has just been made.
This one.  The girl with 100 words
where 25 reside
with eyes that see the fly above her bed
sings her own lyrics to "Jesus loves me" when
her grandfather is dead
She will not pucker when life is sour
She will chomp and chew
suck out the seeds from which
good will grow
and say,
"Is that all you've got?"

After the Rain   (Poem 7 of 30)

Standing on the edge,
warped, well-watered wood
varnish washed away weeks before
my feet, resist splinters, perch
toes bending, nails sun-bathing,
waiting for the burning pollen call
of spring to bring summer
like a kite on a rain chased wind

Pucker (Poem 8 of 3)

a flaked tag of dried skin to be pulled
a candy to sour to keep
a kiss
       of good-bye
                    tell me I'm loved
lipstick lining in blood
orange colors left on
napkins, collars, and notes
pinned to the fridge by a
magnet, saying,

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