We are officially at the halfway mark of NaPoWriMo and although it’s been a great commitment (writing daily, which I don’t (can’t) normally do), I’m starting to feel the weariness of writing so much daily. Today’s prompts are to title your poem with an adjective and a poem that addresses itself or some aspect of itself from Writer’s Digest and NaPoWriMo, respectively. I veered off a little on the NaPoWriMo prompt (it is optional, after all) and went with questions and pleas to the poem, instead:
why do you evade me so?
you, gleam of a hand on the shoulder,
then…nothing. why do you do this to me,
with your orphaned intimacies?
in a crowd, i feel a gust at my neck without intention,
or so you say. for as close as you are,
i do not know the breath of
your verse, nor the taste of your word
& never will.
there is a distant silence in the space between wor(l)ds.
at times, i have found you, held you,
brought you home, and sculpted you,
because to touch your every syllable
would mean it all. i complete you &
you fall to the floor, shattering,
& now i do not know which part
of you i want to keep, each metaphor
having fallen into elsewhere.
ghazal to the missing for my ears, leaving me with a shard for a smile.
between the teeth of leviathan, goes
the prose. i want to pull you out of
the deep. the serif of a font, my hook,
catches the lip of it. i have made plenty
of room for you on my boat. my hull is
hollowed out for you, but alas i must
save myself from the waves.
catch & release.
a feeling inside, whittled to a pearl of doubt, insulting to injury, if i were to chew.
Now back to the weariness, for a second. A good way to look at it would be to liken it to running a marathon. Now, I’m not, and don’t plan to ever be, a marathon runner but I know some folks who are seasoned marathon runners and I’ve asked them how they get through that point where they want to quit, when they’ve given all they could. All of them have suggested their own variation of what I’ve shared below. This is as much for me as it is for anyone else. I abhor commitment to writing. I tend to float between writing and photography when I get bored with one or the other and while that may be a good way of one informing the other, it’s a cop out from digging in and working until I have something done and I’m satisfied with it:
They’ve found that focusing on one or two things helps to encourage them and propel them forward to the end. Whether it be what ideas I want to play with or just simply words that are positive, I think on those things. The next tip is to slow down your pace a bit. When writing, it can be discouraging to have been putting so much into what’s you’re doing and it just isn’t working while racing a clock. Work steadily within the time frame you have. It gives you control over the task. Next is to envision past successes. Remembering a time where you wanted to quit on a project, learning something new, a class, anything and still got through it because you still had something left in your tank is a great motivator. We are all capable of much more than we realize. Remembering to look at the bigger picture in this endeavor to write daily. It may seem meaningless and turn mundane on you but the bigger picture is that you will be a better writer for it in the end. You will have gone through numerous prompts, much research, exposure to other writers, and maybe even developed some new signature or style of writing in the process which can only help you with subsequent work. It’s a win for you all around. Staying in the now is a biggie. Think on the very next word you will be writing, not the middle nor the ending. Word by word. Once you do that, you can then assess what you have and edit or readjust, as needed. Maintaining focus on why you are doing this. Forget any negative thoughts you may have about the process. You are gong through with it and it’s not easy and you are on day 15, which is the halfway mark! Look at what you have done and pay no mind to what you have not. And finally, think outside of yourself. There are some that don’t have the gift that you do and wish they did. This writing world is a wonderful place to be. It’s a safe haven, therapy, self help, help for others, communion, a reaching out to some that wouldn’t normally know of a topic…You have it and some don’t. Be grateful for it.
One thing I would like to add that has been really important to me even getting past day 3, quite frankly, is being accountable. I started putting a writer at the end of my entries that has influenced me or that I have come across that I didn’t know about, previously. This was my way of telling you, my readers and fellow writers, and myself that I am committed to NaPoWriMo. I said I would do the showcase and I have, every day, since the day I said I would. It’s not always easy or something that I want to do. Family life and flat out laziness can make for half-way work. This commitment will also translate into what I do in my regular life.
Ok, that was a mouthful! I hope these tips are helpful to you in this second half of NapoWriMo.
Do you have any tips that could be helpful to others? Anything that has worked for you in the past and continues to do so? Let me know!
Louise Bogan has been called by some critics the most accomplished woman poet of the twentieth century.
Her subtle, restrained style was partially influenced by writers such as Rilke and Henry James, and partially by the English metaphysical poets such as George Herbert, John Donne, and Henry Vaughan, though she distanced herself from her intellectually rigorous, metaphysical contemporaries. Bogan’s poetry contains a personal quality derived from personal experience, but it is not private or confessional. Her poems, most critics agree, are economical in words, masterpieces of crossed rhythms in which the meter opposes word groupings. Bogan’s ability is unique in its strict adherence to lyrical forms, while maintaining a high emotional pitch. .
The majority of her poetry was written in the earlier half of her life when she published Body of This Death (McBride & Company, 1923), Dark Summer (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1929), and The Sleeping Fury (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1937). She subsequently published volumes of her collected verse, and The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1968), an overview of her life’s work in poetry.
Song for the Last Act
BY LOUISE BOGAN
Now that I have your face by heart, I look
Less at its features than its darkening frame
Where quince and melon, yellow as young flame,
Lie with quilled dahlias and the shepherd’s crook.
Beyond, a garden. There, in insolent ease
The lead and marble figures watch the show
Of yet another summer loath to go
Although the scythes hang in the apple trees.
Now that I have your face by heart, I look.
Now that I have your voice by heart, I read
In the black chords upon a dulling page
Music that is not meant for music’s cage,
Whose emblems mix with words that shake and bleed.
The staves are shuttled over with a stark
Unprinted silence. In a double dream
I must spell out the storm, the running stream.
The beat’s too swift. The notes shift in the dark.
Now that I have your voice by heart, I read.
Now that I have your heart by heart, I see
The wharves with their great ships and architraves;
The rigging and the cargo and the slaves
On a strange beach under a broken sky.
O not departure, but a voyage done!
The bales stand on the stone; the anchor weeps
Its red rust downward, and the long vine creeps
Beside the salt herb, in the lengthening sun.
Now that I have your heart by heart, I see.
Louise Bogan, “Song for the Last Act” from The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968.