Question and Answer

There is a dialog among writers. Often one poem is an answer to another poem, or a question to another writer. In some traditions, poets will collaboratively create chains of poems, a form where a poem is linked with another.

This question and answer chain poem works by one writer answering the question left to them and then leaving another question for the next writer. If you want to see another example of this kind of chain poetry, check out one from last year. If you want to participate, go to the comment window of this post and see what question awaits you. After a week or so I'll post what we've come up with at the bottom of this text. You can, of course, participate multiple times.

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A big thanks to everyone who participated in this chain poem. Please check in the comment window to see how this collaborative poem unfolded. The writers were:

Derliwall

Harlequin

The Walking Man

Anon Andon

Human Being

Jon

I think it turned out quite well. And of course, if you want to continue to add to this Q & A leave a comment that follows the last question. Here's what we've got so far:

=================================================

Where are you going?
I'm going to the playground to jump off the swing at its highest point.

Have you ever swung all the way around?
all the way around but not at a playground
or maybe it was...
there are days and times I feel like a pendulum

wondering whether up and down is over and under or day and night?
.
a pendulum
is
up
down
over
under
either
neither
night/day
day/night
neither
either
under
over
down
up
is
a pendulum
.

but from what point are we fixed?
We are simply fixed,
repaired
at the place of the birth
of our understanding.

Where are we born from?
born from stardust.

What carries you away?
Words cemented
flow and rhythm
making music
in the syllabification
of the drum beat
found in circles
of pattern and thought
carry me places
not found in lonely dreams.

What is the dream unremembered?
the dream unremembered is my body's wisdom asking me to trust

what does trust mean?
Trust leans
on the dream
machines
of memories
passed.

Why do you ask?
Trust
is a form of hope
and hope makes
the world spin
hopelessly forward
to a future
filled with hope
that we will learn
to trust one another.

Who is the other in another?
Every other is every single bit other and every other is a part of me.

But what connects me to every other living thing?
You can ask because
you are part
of the poem,
living the thing
connected
to every other
.

So connected, what makes the other "other"?
Within me
lies another life,
another heart
beating quietly
'neath my own
but beating
none the less and
in the spirits heartbeat
I find the spirit of the creator
of all that is.

I am not that being
but it is
the other within me.
The spirit within.


How many hearts are there within the human's being?
.
.
.

if "the sound of our hearts sings
like the song of two strings
drawn by one bow",
surely
there is no heart
within us

we are just some travelers
on a quest
to find
the only heart there is
.
.
.
"How can I move across this space?"
With hope and heart and a little help from fellow travelers, I can move across any space and time.

Then do you imagine the dusk will wait for the teller of stories to have something to say?
Always...

But how long is always?

Image Expressive


===========================
on the path
spread as the bones of a wing
steps bouncing off rocks
a hush, deep mist settling,
sun pushing all the way home
===========================

This is a photo from a walking trail in Niagara Falls. The path leads to (or comes from, depending on your point of view) the Whirlpool, a place that few travelers seem to go. It's a bit of a hike from the more touristy parts of the Falls, and even on the busiest days of the summer there's usually no more than a few other people. There's lots of different birds and interesting driftwood and stones along the beach.

The piece of brick you see in the photo above seemed to have been quite purposely planted in the trail by someone, and seemed to have been quite purposely engraved by someone too. I kept my eyes open for others like it, but found only this one. Go figure...

If you want to try an "image expressive" yourself the concept is quite simple. Just post a photo on your blog and try to come up with some words you want to twin with it. I did another one of these posts a couple weeks ago that you can check out by clicking this link. Let me know if you come up with something so I can take a look.

Starrify

I was given a link to the most starrific website by Mazikeen. It's called Save the Words. The idea of the site is to allow users to adopt words that have been put on the chopping block by whoever it is that decides what words get dropped from the English language. The site asks you to adopt such a word and try to use it in speech and writing in an effort to save it from annahilation. And even though there is no dictionary definition, I've tried to use my adopted word in the short poem below. Check out the Save the Words site. And if you write up a post with one of the doomed words, let me know. I'm interested to keep as many words alive as possible.

===========================================

How can I move across this space?
How can I starrify the night
and keep this memory
when the sound of our hearts sings
like the song of two strings
drawn by one bow?
How can I move across this space?

==========================================

Make me care about the lettuce

The genesis of this writing prompt comes from Guy Allen, a teacher of writing at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. This exercise asks you to write a narrative about something mundane. For example, let me share the one that I'm planning to write myself:

You know how at a restaurant when you order a hamburger (or a veggie burger as the case may be) and there is usually a single leaf of lettuce that comes on the plate? Ever notice how that piece of lettuce is often left uneaten and returns to the dish pit to be discarded in the food disposal, shunned and unwanted? Why is it that people usually eat the fries, the slice of tomato and the pickle, but leave the lettuce behind? Why doesn't anyone care about this misunderstood vegetable?

The point of this writing prompt is simple: write about something mundane and ordinary, anything you want really, but in a way that makes it interesting. I'm going to write one about lettuce (it's too good to pass up for me!) and post it in the next day or so. Leave me a comment if you come up with something ordinary and everyday to write about so I can check it out. I would love to see where this leads you.

Haiku

.
Haiku is a well known poetic form usually consisting of three lines. The syllabic count of the lines is 5, 7, 5. Here is a famous example of haiku, written by the poet Basho:

The floating flower (5)
I saw drift back to the branch (7)
Was a butterfly. (5)

Haiku often make mention of nature imagery and usually has some illusion to a season. The form can be thought of as three still frames, placed one on top of the other, to create the effect of capturing a moment. Here's one by me:

Dragonfly patters
Aurora borealis
Marble garden pond

If you want to make a haiku of your own, leave me a comment so I can visit your site and see what you've created, or even leave one instead of a comment. I'm always interested by what people come up with in this deceptively simple form.
.

Two Facts and a Fib

This one kind of works without any explanation. Try to pick out which of the three statements is the fib:


-I have worked at more than 150 different jobs

-I have watched a friend swim in (and survive) a huge vat of raw sewage

-I have been married twice



If you want to follow my lead and tell your own truths and a fib, leave a comment so I can take a guess.

5 Blogs

.

This post is a review of sorts. I'll briefly talk about five blogs and bloggers that I have found to be interesting and expressive. If you wanted to do a similar post, leave me a comment. I'd love to be introduced to other expressive people!

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1. Timmy @ all humans are the same

I first met Timmy during a collaborative blog project where we were adapting writing by Samuel Beckett into online media (Interiority / Exteriority). One of the most interesting things about his writing and his blog is that he NEVER uses capital letters when he writes. But as you'll see if you check out his poetry, this is a strong point of his work. You might also like the graphics on his site, which are often in stark contrast to the content of the poems he's writing. Timmy is also the creator of one of the most difficult poetic forms I've ever seen, the slurkett. When I asked him, he told me that the rules are:

a slurkett is a poem of 15 lines of the following number of syllables:
12, 6, 18, 11
5, 14, 8, 19
13, 7, 16, 9
17, 10, 15

the following lines rhyme:
1, 9, 11 and 15
2, 6, 8 and 13
3 and 14
4, 7 and 10
5 and 12

the first letter of each line follows the first letter of the preceding line
by one in the alphabet ( "ex" may be used for the letter "x")

the following words or phrases must appear once:
"had a big"
"forever"
"in despair"
"of the moon"

a variation of 16 lines may be used. a line of 4 syllables is inserted as the next to last line.
it rhymes with the 5th and 12th lines and the last (now 16th) line rhymes with the 1st, 9th and 11th

This is not a form for the faint of heart! Give it a try if you're brave. I'm sure he'd love to see the results.

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2. Mark @ The Walking Man

Mark is from Detroit, and his writing is often based on the cityscape he knows and experiences everyday. In fact, he has recently published a book on the city, Stink. The title is some indication of the tone of the book. Sometimes political, sometimes irreverent, sometimes downright hilarious, his writing is always expressive and engaging. One of his most recent poems that I really like is called "Water Feature" and incorporates shape to give another dimension to the language. Shape poetry is one of my favorite forms. Check it out. He gets loads of comments on his site, but I'm sure that he'd be happy to hear from you if you haven't already met this prolific blogger.

======================

3. Mariana @ Sing Your Own Lullaby

What I like most about Mariana's blog is the way that she engages her readers. She always has a topic up for discussion that makes the hamsters in my brain run a little faster on the wheel. While often her posts are about topics that are scientific and about the physical world, there is always an element of the unknown in her writing and questioning. For example, one of her recent posts, "Meaning Theories" talks about the way that we know what we know (or what we think we know!). And even though the basic systems of meaning she outlined in the post cover a wide range of possibility, the responses in the comments on this post opened up many other avenues. Asking these kinds of questions is, in many ways, an impossible task for Mariana, but I have a feeling that her objective is not to offer answers (or even to find them) but more to foster discussion. That's what, in my opinion, makes her such an expressive person.

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4. Christopher @ View from the Northern Wall

Christopher describes himself as a "Mechanical designer for industry, once a Bay Area Hippie, went undercover in 1972, I've been writing poetry for years." What interests me most here is about his going undercover! Who would have thought the best way to not blow his cover would be to start up a blog!

Jokes aside though, what I like most about all of Christopher's posts is the way he combines narrative and poetry. Usually he introduces his poems with a short intro about the genesis of the piece, and about its significance for him as a writer or as an expressive person. For an example of this, you might want to see his post "A Typical Lesson" or "What an Order." Another thing about Christopher's blogging that I find so amazing is the frequency of his posts -- most every day. As someone who won't usually post more than a couple times a week (or even a couple times a month if there's lots on my plate) I respect this dedication to expressiveness. He sets the bar high for lots of us.

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5. Z @ Razor-Blade of Life

Z (and I'm almost sure that's not her real name ;) has been narrating her own and her families experience. On her blog you can find a pastiche of photos, description, and narratives of her life. What you may find interesting about her writing is the way that she's applied pseudonyms to her husband ("the Sage"), and her children and grandchildren. Lots of bloggers use nicknames for themselves and others they know in the "real" world outside of this virtual forum. You might want to do this too. Not only is it smart to help protect privacy, sometimes by giving a moniker to yourself, you can distance the real from the imaginary, or allow yourself to talk about ideas and things that you wouldn't necessarily want everyone you "know" to know about (not saying that this is what you're doing Z, just thought it might be a good example). If you want to see one of her posts that narrates the experience of the world in such a way, maybe check out "The Sage Surprises Z."

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Hope that you've liked this installment of 5 Blogs. I will try to review other blogs and expressive people as this site progresses. If you want to do a similar write-up of some of your friend's sites, please let me know. I love to check out new sites!

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Aubade

An aubade is a love song sung at dawn. As a poetic form, it usually has some element of rhyme and makes mention of images associated with daybreak or morning. One famous example you may like is by Phillip Larkin. The one below is by yours truly:


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standing
shower
grounded
slippery

porcelain
curtain
laughter
trickery

taking
body
frigid
suckling

shower-head
bustling

flush

scalding
retreat

cool
coaxed
water
lily

warm, like your love

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If you would like to try one for yourself, please leave a comment so I can check out your post. Hope you like this poetic form.


Image Expressive

Here is a picture I took last summer. I wanted to try to find some words to go with this image that express that evening for me (or at least what I remember of it now!). The idea for image expressive came from a friends site, Deli, and a blogging project she likes to participate in, One Single Impression. If you have a picture that you'd like to match with some words, leave a comment so I can come and check it out.

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The sun
(all yellow
all yolk)
before it hits the pan.

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