March Poetry Workshop Assignment
Base assignment: write a poem, any form, about the future.
Intermediate assignment: in addition to the base assignment, three key words must be incorporated into the piece: mob, sand, and book (these are the first three words that came up in a random noun generator, if anyone was curious where I got these from).
Advanced assignment: in addition to the base and intermediate assignment, restricted to the form of rhyme royal poem. A rhyme royal poem is a 7 line poem in iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme of a-b-a-b-b-c-c. An example:
Opening to Thomas Wyatt’s rhyme royal poem:
They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.
The days mob me, like pages in a book
Or sand accumulating on the beach.
Sometimes I feel that life has overtook
Me. The future, my future within reach
Of those things only time can really teach.
I wait for melting sand to turn to glass,
And a tomorrow that is within grasp.
I wanted to play with the meter of the form and include some enjambment (overtook/Me.) I also used a slant rhyme at the end, because I like playing with different types of rhyme within a poem (eye rhyme, feminine rhyme, masculine rhyme, etc.).
Hannah Amante’s Interpretation:
i think i was in third grade when
i first realized
that i could be
to some people.
i don’t remember being shy before this
girl named kylie or kaylie suddenly
started ignoring my ideas
on how we should spend our recess.
i can see her walking across the field
away from me
while i jabber on and on,
more confused about
why i am perpetually
five steps behind.
in my freshman year of high school
these two girls were my lab partners.
we made a mini
ecosystem out of a soda bottle
they were too grossed out
to touch it and empty it out, so i
the next lab day came. i
hovered expectantly like a
stray dog, and one of them said,
you can join their group
is it sad of me to still
remember these things?
they aren’t my most horrific memories
but they still linger.
and i think that’s why
i stopped writing poems.
because i cannot
without the past and people always tell you
not to think about your past.
it’s funny, even when i set out
to write a poem about
entitled “the future,”
the first thing that bursts through,
burst through the layers
of every age i’ve ever been and
i’ve learned to see this as pathetic.
but without this pathetic-ness
there is no poetry
and without poetry
i still feel pathetic anyway.
and so this,
this is my prayer for the future:
to not fear “pathetic”
to not fear emotion
to not fear the past
in all of its uninteresting splendor
but most of all
to not fear being
because i need these words
this jibber and jabber
these smelly, gross words
that i’ve been empty of
for so long.
I’m a huge fan of e.e. cummings, and the chopped style and playfulness with capitalization mirrors him well and is why I liked Hannah’s work and decided to share it within this example post.
David Pulido’s Interpretation:
Paint exfoliated from the walls in strips, flaking into a thick yellow sheen that floated to the ceiling and hung there, a strange, choking miasma. I inhaled, felt my body slacken with each breath. I stood in front of the pyre I made from an upside-down coffee table, my mother’s hosiery, shirts, blouses, and pants, the crème drapes from my bedroom curling into themselves, their frayed tassels like wicks. I took off my clothes and threw them in the flames. I felt the hair on my body singe, smelt my own flesh, raw from heat. The beautiful ache.
Putty knife. Rubbing alcohol. Burnished tin above the fireplace, full of long, colored matches. Tongues rose from the tract of suburban homes like a jet of molten ore. I was eight. Now I pass my hands over my ribcage, and smooth over the hollow of my abdomen. My fingers run over the hard veins that have spread over my inner thighs. My legs have bowed from standing.
David went another route with the assignment and used it as a starting off point for a short story he’s working on. I love that it inspired him to do something a little different. Even if the assignment says “poem,” I like the readers of these blogs and writers who submit pieces to know that their creativity with the assignment is welcome as well and isn’t restricted to the poetry format.