Monday, September 1, 2014

September 2014 Poetry Challenge - a list poem

Dappled Things


A “list poem” (sometimes called a “catalogue poem”) may be composed of only items in a cleverly designed list, or a list may constitute an important segment of a poem, but not be the entire poem.

List poems date back almost to the beginning of poetry.  Lists are common in the Psalms in the Bible. Look for instance at Psalm 15. The psalm begins with the question of who will abide in the tabernacle and dwell on God’s holy hill. The poet then proceeds to list the characteristics of such a person—one who walks uprightly, does righteous works, speaks the truth, and so on.

Another list poem expressing faith is “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, an English poet and Jesuit priest.

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

Hopkins’ list of reasons for praise s quite interesting. When calling the reader to praise God, why has he picked out “dappled things” for special attention? Why does he move from such objects of the natural world as trout and finches’ wings, and then agricultural land (“Landscape plotted and pieced”) and even include the trades in which human beings participate, and the gear that goes with them, as works of God?

List poems may be about any subject.  In the fourth chapter of the Song of Solomon in the Bible, the narrator describes the lover (Song of Solomon 4:1-5, KJV).

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair;
thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks:
thy hair is as a flock of goats,
that appear from mount Gilead.
Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn,
which came up from the washing;
whereof every one bear twins,
and none is barren among them.
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet,
and thy speech is comely:
thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.
Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury,
whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins,
which feed among the lilies.
 
This description would not seem very flattering to a modern American woman! It does seem to have been a model for some English-language poets.  William Shakespeare wrote a humorous list poem, poking fun at classical poems describing a poet’s lover:

Sonnet 130

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
     And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
     As any she belied with false compare.

In her Sonnets from the Portuguese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning used the list approach to express her love in Sonnet 43:

Sonnet 43

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
 
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 
Here are links to a few list poems on the Internet:

*Walt Whitman, “I Hear America Singing,” http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175779.
http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-boiling-water/ 
*Robert Herrick, “The Argument of His Book,” http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176694.
*Rebecca Lindenbert, “Catalogue of Ephemera,” http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/243892.
*Serina Matteson, “Morning Sounds All Around,” http://templepoetry.blogspot.com/2009/02/catalog-poem-example.html.

September Poetry Challenge

The September poetry challenge is to write a list poem. The poem doesn’t have to be composed only of a list, but a list has to play a very significant role in the poem. Your poem may be free verse or a form, rhymed or unrhymed. If you use a form, specify the form when you submit it. The list should be constructed with intentionality, so that it is poetic, not just a haphazard list. Virtually any topic (no pornography or objectionable language, however).

Submit only one poem. The deadline is September 15. Poems submitted after the September 15 deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please use “family-friendly” language.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet.

Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If you poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). Be sure to provide your e-mail address. Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem, if you are a winner this month.

Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name (exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win) at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment. Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold (not all in capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique; I sometimes do it myself. However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.

 
© Wilda Morris


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Finally a Winner - A Poem about an Iconic Structure


The January Challenge (you can see it in more detail in the archive section of this blog) was a poem about an iconic structure. The judges determined that no poem submitted by the deadline was a winner, so the challenge was left open for several months. Several weeks ago, I sent Jim Lambert, one of the original judges, the additional poems that have been submitted and Richard C. Green was declared the winner.

Richard had commented in his email, “Here is my poem based on the iconic churches of St. Denis and Chartres, a suggestion of the inspiration for Gothic architecture, with its opening up of space and light, replacing Romanesque.” Here is his poem:

 
The Abbot in Autumn
 
Abbot Suger surely stood
Beneath an aisle of ancient trees
And marveled at its height,
Its rise and great limbs arching
Upward to a light-filled vault.
Green, yellow, red, orange,
Bright blue between,
Traceried with twigs
Dissolving in the
Mystical light.
 
Let us have
No more tunnels,
Catacombs shutting
Out the sky, stone dark.
Sursum Corda!
Let in the forest lights
Above naves of trunks,
Groves of trunks in piers,
Slender trunks in colonettes
Lifting leafy capitals, ribs, liernes
Into that vibrant spectrum
Above.

~ Richard C. Green

The Basilica of St. Denis near Paris is named for the man legend says was the first bishop of Paris. The site occupied by the church was originally selected for the tomb of Bishop Denis. It was a simple structure, nothing like the large basilica found at that location today.

Sometime before 637, a Benedictine Monastery was built there. Dagobert I, King of the Franks from 628-637, built an Abbey on the site. Suger, mentioned in the poem, was Abbot in the 1200s. He is responsible for the construction of the Gothic structure celebrated in the poem. St. Denis was the burial place of numerous French kings and queens. It became a pilgrimage site in the 5th century. You can read more of the history of the Basilica of St. Denis and see photos of it at http://www.sacred-destinations.com/france/paris-st-denis, http://goparis.about.com/b/2014/05/05/paris-notes-why-do-tourists-neglect-st-denis-basilica.htm, and other places on the Internet. For information on Chartres Cathedral, see http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/81.


Richard C. Green taught art and art history and is now painting and writing poetry. He maintains copyright on his poem.

Check on September 1 for the September Poetry Challenge. Good reading!
 

 

©  Wilda Morris

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August 2014 Poetry Challenge Winner



Deetje J. Wildes, winner of the August, 2014, challenge (pictured above with her “own true love") says her poem is only partly true.

 
Ode to My Sweetheart

Happy, we were, with little care
Together at work and together at play;
“You and I are quite a pair”
We’d often say.

Our days just slid by, ten thousand or so,
As we often rejoiced to be happily wed.
“It still seems our life has scarcely a woe”
We often said.

But now, in your own little world you stay,
Not knowing that I am your own true love.
We shall meet again on that glorious Day
In heaven above.

~ Deetje J. Wildes

 
Deetje J. Wildes is a caregiver for the man she married over 54 years ago. She writes poetry when she has the time and energy to do so. She maintains copyright to this poem.
 
Watch for the results of the January challenge which was left open for several months, and the September challenge.
 
© Wilda Morris
 
 
 
 

 


Friday, August 1, 2014

August 2015 Poetry Challenge

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), began writing poetry at age 12. He was refused admission to public school and university because he was a Roman Catholic at a time when Catholics were persecuted in England, so he was largely self-taught.
            When he was twelve, he suffered the onset of a serious bone deformity. It is believed that he had Pott’s Disease, a form of tuberculosis which results in a hunched back and breathing difficulties such as asthma. The disease left him frail and made him the butt of jokes. The same year, he wrote “Ode to Solitude,” his earliest surviving poem.
            I don’t know if Pope already was suffering from the effects of the disease when he wrote it, but if so, it might help explain why a twelve-year-old thought solitude a source of happiness.
 
 
Ode to Solitude
 
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
              In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
              In winter, fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind;
              Quiet by day.

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mixed, sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
              With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
              Tell where I lie.
 
~ Alexander Pope
 
This poem is in the public domain.
 
 
August 2014 Poetry Challenge:
 
            Begin with a gender-free version of line one (“Happy the one. . . .” or “Happy those . . .,” etc.) unless the happiness you describe is gender specific. Or you could begin with “Happy am I . . . .”
            Or maybe you would rather not write about happiness – pick another adjective about a state of mind such as “Lonely the one who. . . .” “Miserable are those who . . . .” or “Amazed am I . . . .” Follow the pattern for starting the poem, but use your creativity.
            Write your version of what you think makes people (or men, or women, children, yourself, or some category of people, such as doctors, nurses, teachers) happy, lonely, miserable (or whatever). Note how Pope's takes a turn at the end - he applied it to himself. What turn will make your poem more interesting?
 
You can use Pope’s form, a different form, or free verse.
 
Submit only one poem. The deadline is August 15. Poems submitted after the August 15 deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please use “family-friendly” language.
 
Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet.
 
Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If you poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.
 
How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). Be sure to provide your e-mail address. Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem, if you are a winner this month.
 
Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name (exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win) at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment. Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold (not all in capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique; I sometimes do it myself. However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.
 
 
© Wilda Morris

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 2014 Poetry Challenge Winners: That Special Place

 


Patrick Dunn, the judge for the July poetry challenge, is an associate professor of English at Aurora University, where he teaches linguistics, stylistics, and creative writing.  He is the author of three books on esoteric spirituality and a book of poetry, Second Person.  His poetry has appeared in Fifth Wednesday, Poetry Sky, and Edgz.  His work has been translated into several languages, including Czech, Russian, and Chinese.  His poetry has won the NWG Founders Prize, and his second book won the COVR award. He selected first, second and third place poems. We’ll begin with the first place poem:
 

Illinois Fragment

one April Sunday
we hiked a mile
over fences and
across a fallow field

splashed  through
a pebbled brook
to a spot you’d found
while hunting

your old lab
ran in zigzags
through the woods
bewitched by spring

deep inside
an old woodlot
a pool of bluebells
in a hollow curve

a quiet cup of ocean
a scrap of fallen sky
so blue even the air
above was blue

a place so still
we felt the bluebells
bend and blow
inside us.

~ Joan Peronto

 
Professor Dunn's comments:  "Illinois Fragment" stands in the tradition of American Imagism without being an imitation of it.  There's a lot to enjoy in this poem, and it's the sort of poem that I need to read over and over.  There's a sense of love, companionship, in that ‘we’" but then why is the speaker speaking?  There's a wistfulness, as if the persona is reminding another of a happier time.  In the second half of the poem, the bluebells take over, as they've taken over the hollow, to the point where they even color the air itself.  We're reminded of the past, and then moved back to dwell in it and see this special place from the eyes of the persona and the person to whom he or she speaks.  And then, surprisingly, our point of view is pushed even farther, and instead of seeing the bluebells we experience becoming them as the persona did when she first saw them.  There's a lot going on in this seemingly simple poem, which makes it a deep and engaging read.  Thank you for the opportunity to enjoy it.”
 

Dresbach Rest Area

It’s called a thin spot—
where I sit beneath
a blue washed sky
beside the Mississippi
and feel the power of God
through the warm sunshine
caressing my back
and the blades of grass
running between my fingers.

The ebb and flow of small town life
meanders through the lock and damn
releasing fishermen in to the hope
of a better catch on the other side
and I watch her beauty
and remember the cautions
of her deadly current
that spins water snakes
around beaches
that have no lifeguards.

She cuts through
two states here
and spits Eagles into the wind
soaring like guardian angels
here, over my thin spot,
perhaps protecting God
from the sight of empty Coke cans
and cigarette butts.
 
~ Pamela Larson


The judge’s comments on the second place poem:  "’Dresbach Rest Area’ deftly paints a picture of the Mississippi as we Midwesterners know her.  I was particularly struck by the triple juxtaposition of dangerous but beautiful nature, the corruption and detritus of humanity, and the silent gaze of the divine.”

 
Remembering Puck

Grandma’d placed the bench at orchard’s edge
behind the big farmhouse,
pungent apples fallen at my feet
heady liqueur for the sucking bees.

There sat I, deep into July,
With A Midsummer Night’s Dream 
in my lap. Virginal at sweet sixteen,
Shakespeare’s magic belonged to me.
 
Mine, too, Grammy’s garden on that glowing, sweet,
summer night. Greater my 
wish for puckish pranks, and reading more 
into the five acts: my high delight.

~ Carole Mertz

 
About this, the third-place poem, Professor Dunn wrote:  “Having spent time myself as a teenager reading out in the woods (although, for me, it was Keats), I really enjoyed ‘Remembering Puck.’  I thought it worked well, engaging the senses and creating a firm image of the bench, the orchard, and the growing fascinating with literature and nature in a young mind.”
 

Congratulations to the three winners! The winning poems are property of the poets who wrote them. Please do not reproduce them without their consent.

 
A new challenge will be posted on August 1, and the winner of the January challenge, which was extended, will be announced soon thereafter.

 
About the Winners:

Joan Peronto lives and writes poetry in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. She is a transplanted mid-westerner, having spent the first 22 years life in Central Illinois . She is a graduate from the U. of Wisconsin , Madison in history and science. Joan worked in the reference department of the Berkshire Athenaeum for 34 years and, with her husband, raised seven children, now educated and thrust upon the world.

Her  poetry has appeared in Crossing Paths, an anthology of Western New England poets, The Berkshire Review, The Berkshire Sampler, Hummingbird, The P.E.O.Record
and The Rockford Review.  Her children’s poetry has appeared in Ladybug and Spider.
 

Pamela Larson lives in Arlington Heights, IL. Pam has been published in the Daily Herald, Karitos, Cram Poetry Series, Journal of Modern Poetry, bottle rockets haiku journal and on PoetrySuperHighway.com and DagdaPublishing.com. She has won many awards from Highland Park Poetry and a Pushcart Prize Nomination from chicagopoetry.com

 
Carole Mertz studied in Salzburg, Austria and received her Mus. B from Oberlin College. She began writing poetry in 2008. Her work is published in Mature Years, With Painted Word, The Copperfield Review, Conium Review, Rockford Review, at Tiny Lights, Page & Spine, and at The Write Place at the Write Time. Her chapter on tips for writers is included in Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers, Smallwood and Redman-Waldeyer, Eds. (Scarecrow Press) forthcoming 2014. 

 


© Wilda Morris

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 2014 Poetry Challenge

"My Creek" - Ralston Creek in Iowa City, Iowa, on June 28, 2014 - with the water higher and muddier than it usually was when I was growing up nearby.



My Brook

Earth holds no sweeter secret anywhere
Than this my brook, that lisps along the green
Of mossy channels, where slim birch trees lean
Like tall pale ladies, whose delicious hair,
Lures and invites the kiss of wanton air.
The smooth soft grasses, delicate between
The rougher stalks, by waifs alone are seen,
Shy things that live in sweet seclusion there.

And is it still the same, and do the eyes
Of every silver ripple meet the trees
That bend above like guarding emerald skies?
I turn, who read the city’s beggared book,
And hear across the moan of many seas
The whisper and the laughter of my brook.

~ Helen Hay Whitney

From Some Verses (1898).


Whitney writes of “my brook.” It is a piece of nature she claims for herself because it means a lot to her. She does it using exquisite language, simile, and imagination. The brook “lisps along” in its “mossy channels.” The birch are likened to tall ladies whose hair “lures and invites” a kiss—from “wanton air.” Only “waifs” see the delicate grasses.

When I read this poem recently, it reminded me of Ralston Creek, which ran between the home in which I grew up and the elementary school I attended. It was “my creek,” but my poem doesn’t have as happy an ending as does Whitney's poem.

My Creek

Stay out of the creek,
Mother warned again
and again. You might
get polio. You might
fall and split your head
on a rock. What she meant
was You might drown
like your cousin Junior.
But in summer the water
ran cool and rainbows
glittered between
narrow banks. Each
winter, the surface froze
a white short-cut winding
through the neighborhood,
an Arctic adventure waiting
after school each day,
till a neighbor called
to tell Mother, I saw
your daughter in the creek
this afternoon.

~ Wilda Morris

This poem was first published in Rockford Review.



The challenge for July is to claim your piece of the world. Maybe it is a piece of nature—a brook, a field, a woodland, a rock you sat on—but town or city (or city block), your farm, or your community. It might be the softball field where you have played ball for years. For purposes of this challenge, however, NO poems about buildings—your home, school, place of worship or other building, now or in childhood, or about a room in a house or other building. NO poems about your office or workplace. Whatever you pick, you must describe it as yours. Your poem may be free or formal verse. If you submit a formal verse, please specify the form used.

Submit only one poem. The deadline is July 15. Poems submitted after the July 15 deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary awards; however winners are published on this blog.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet.

Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If you poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). Be sure to provide your e-mail address. Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem, if you are a winner this month.

Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name, exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win, at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment. Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold, and not all in capital letters; your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique; I sometimes do it myself. However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.



© Wilda Morris