Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!
Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of February! Here’s the scoop: we’re creating ekphrastic poems! Your choice of form, length, topic, or meter, but each poem should be based on an image you’re willing to share (a Creative Commons image is best if it’s not one you’ve taken yourself or have permission to use). You have a month to craft your creation and share it on February 24th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.
January, my friends, has seemed both simultaneously six years and five minutes long. Topping my list of Ugh, No tasks this month was shameless self-promotion for my newly released middle grade novel, and Tech Boy’s office party. The glorious reprieve provided by the pandemic is over, so I had to put on my big girl pants – and my mask, because only the reprieve is over – and get on a boat (in the midst of atmospheric rivers on the eve of a massive flood, whose bright idea was this???) and make small talk over indifferent food with too loud of music. Even beyond the wild wind and the waves, beyond stepping into an ankle deep puddle and running from the dock between showers, it all seemed ghastlier because I hadn’t done it in so long. Social muscles atrophy if ignored, just like every other muscle group.
As the Poetry Sisters sat down to work on our poems this month, we shared stories of what was going on in our lives – and some of us tried writing about it. Whether it was because we were unsure of what to say, or had a lot of ranting to do that didn’t want to fit itself to the Cascade form, few of us were ecstatic about our first drafts. (But you should see what Sara came up with, and here’s Laura’s poem, and Liz’s. Here’s Mary Lee’s, and here’s Tricia’s poem. Jone’s is here, and Heidi’s is here. You’ll find Margaret’s poem here, and Linda B’s poem here, and here’s Michelle’s and this one is Molly’s. Carol V’s poem she dropped off on her way out!. Kelly’s poem is on her desk in New Jersey… and she’s on an even bigger boat than I was on, so check back next month! As the weekend goes on, more Peeps will be joining the fun so check back for the full roundup.)
Additionally, adding an annual theme to our challenges is new for us. Some of us chose to highlight our theme of “transformation” through the poem form itself. The Cascade, I was delighted to learn, was invented by political theorist Udit Bhartia, whose research focuses on “normative democratic theory, comparative constitution-making, and social epistemology.” I noted that whether in the tercet or quatrain form of the Cascade, the poet seems to need to begin with a strong statement that can shift through the rest of the lines. I can see how a political theorist would know how best to use a firm thesis statement!
While I found the tercet to have too few lines, the quatrain was an immediate fit. I had the intention to create something unrhymed – in the name of our annual theme of transformation I intended to at least try to stop rhyming everything – but this off-the-cuff rhymed effort worked out better. Rather than shift lines as my change, I focused on the idea of a resolution, or, as some call it, “setting intentions.”
A Show up: half the battle is won.
B Say, “Yes.” People-watch. That’s still fun.
C If “No” tries the world to control –
D Change tunes. A new song feeds the soul.
a So what if “I’m Quiet”‘s your fame?
b A quiet match still kindles flame.
c Though you won’t spark with everyone,
A Show up. Half the battle is won.
d Skill as a good listener amends
e A lack of “crowd-loving” in friends
f Who shine brightest when one-on-one.
B Say, “Yes,” people. Watch – that’s still fun.
g One hour: that’s it. You’ve agreed
h To socialize (TRY). It could lead
i To new friends, new tastes, or new goals,
C If “No” tries the world to control…
j So caution to winds, will you try
k a new way of being, whereby
l you give Chance a new, starring role?
D Change tunes. A new song feeds the soul.
I left the “frame” up so you’ll see how straightforward a Cascade can be. For me, stanzas worked well for me put into sentence form, otherwise I sometimes fell into making short, punchy statements that occasionally sounded unnecessarily aggressive. This was a fun form to play with, and I look forward to digging more into it – maybe even without a rhyme.
(You’ll note that I don’t promise to report on my intentions to socialize more… everything is a work in progress in this transformation business.)
Poetry Friday today is hosted by Jan at Bookseed Studio. If you find yourself faltering already at intentions you’ve set, today is a new day – and it only takes turning a different direction to be at a beginning instead of an ending. Happy Year of the Cat, Rabbit, and Happy Weekend.