NaPoWriMo

Pressure. To write a poem every day for a whole month. Will it force me to focus and help my current period of writer’s block? Will the daily deadline just create an accumulation of mini failures as I don’t hit my target? Will it be fun?

I did it a few years back, using Carrie Etter’s prompts, and got a good number of drafts that became published poems. Jo Bell’s 52 project was also very useful. However, this year I am feeling quite flat and uninspired, even with prompts.

I have written a couple so far and it’s day 10 so I am way behind. Instead of trying to force something, I have been writing observations in careful detail. Describing people, conversations, scenes. It’s taken the pressure off and it is fun again. Like sketching instead of painting the final portrait in oils.

20131029Raphael Self-Portrait

Snow White and Rose Red

‘THERE was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses. She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow-white and the other Rose-red. They were as good and happy, as busy and cheerful, as ever two children in the world were, only Snow-white was more quiet and gentle than Rose-red. Rose-red liked better to run about in the meadows and fields seeking flowers and catching butterflies; but Snow-white sat at home with her mother, and helped her with her house-work, or read to her when there was nothing to do.’

rosered_rackham1

Illustrator: Arthur Rackham  1867 –  1939

‘Then they knew his voice and waited, and when he came up to them suddenly his bearskin fell off, and he stood there a handsome man.’

 

gordon-laite-snow-white-rose-red

Illustrator: Gordon Laite (1925-1978)

 

The Joy of Writing

 

bookillisbj

The Joy of Writing

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence – this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word “woods.”

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they’ll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what’s here isn’t life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof’s full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

 

By Wislawa Szymborska
From “No End of Fun”, 1967
Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

Copyright © Wislawa Szymborska, S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

even between the closest people infinite distances exist

“The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.” Rilke (Letters to a young poet)

rilke

 

The Peace of Wild Things

tree-shadow

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

By Wendell Berry

Collected Poems 1957-1982 (Counterpoint Press, 1985)