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Poetry Friday: Pastoral

It’s Poetry Friday, and this month we wrote in the pastoral mode… my challenge choice! Here’s what The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms has to say about the pastoral:

The pastoral is central to poetry. In a simplified definition, it is that mode of poetry that sought to imitate and celebrate the virtues of rural life. […] By the end of the sixteenth century, and the start of the seventeenth, the pastoral convention had become one of the true intellectual engines of poetry. On the surface, it appeared to be about an ornamental and sometimes fictional view of the rural and bucolic life. But huge questions lurked below that clear surface. In the pastoral mode poets could experiment with these questions, some of which verged on a philosophical subversion of traditional religious themes in poetry. Was man made for nature or nature for man? Was the natural world to enter the poem as a realistic object or as a fictive projection of inner feelings? Would the natural world always enter the poem shadowed by the religious myths of the Garden of Eden and man’s fall?

The anthology has some wonderful examples, including your Marlowe and your Wordsworth and Keats, but also Philip Larkin, Derek Walcott, Galway Kinnell, Mary Oliver, and Jane Kenyon.

Anyway, my poem is probably the least pastoral of our group, but I enjoyed writing it.

White Sands, in southern New Mexico, a few weeks ago.

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Poetry Friday: Snakes

Our poetry challenge this month, from Laura Purdie Salas, was to write a poem comparing something with a snake in 8 lines or less. Because Poetry Friday is hosted this month by Poetry for Children, I was inspired to try writing something fun that I would have liked when I was a kid (not my usual genre).

Also, here’s a snake.

This bull snake was an evacuee from a forest fire in the mountains. My neighbor released it in our yard last year to eat gophers (no obvious effect on the gopher population was ever observed).

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Poetry Friday: Triolet

It’s time for poetry Friday again!

This month’s challenge, from Liz Garton Scanlon, is to write a triolet, a French form with seven lines and only two rhymes. The first two lines are repeated, giving a rhyme scheme ABaAabAB. “Heat” is our theme.

I’m going backpacking for a night this weekend, so I have campfires on the brain.

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Poetry Friday: Dizain square poems

And we’re back for Poetry Friday!

This month’s challenge, from Sara Lewis Holmes (poet, author, and also my mama) is to write a Dizain, a French form with ten lines of ten syllables each and rhyme scheme ABABBCCDCD.

Extra credit was to be given for using the word “square”, which made me think of boxes, which made me think of cats, which are one of my favorite topics. I was also packing for a trip to Pasadena, which is always made more exciting by the fact that if I leave my suitcase unattended for one single second, I’ll come back to find a cat inside making sure his fur gets to go to California.

So I wondered… what do they think they’re going to find when they plunge into suitcases and shopping bags like Indiana Jones diving under a closing temple gate?

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(First ever!) Poetry Friday: Mask poems

Exciting blog news! The Poetry Sisters have kindly welcomed me into their writing and critique group, and I’ll be joining in on Poetry Friday this year. We take turns choosing monthly poetry challenges, and share our poems on the first Friday of the month. I’m really excited because I haven’t been writing much since I finished school. (I need deadlines and peer pressure to accomplish anything.)

This month’s challenge, from Laura Purdie Salas, is to write a mask poem from the point of view of a non-human object or animal. I decided to write from the point of view of my house, which is a duplex built in the 50’s as part of a government housing project to provide living quarters for employees and their families at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The duplexes are old, but solidly built, with wood floors, big crank-open windows, and stainless steel countertops. All the homes were eventually sold to private owners. It’s fun to see how people have modified and renovated them, from adding solar panels to covering the whole thing in adobe. If you go to a friend’s house you’re likely to recognize your doorknobs (or hideous flowery bedroom light fixtures).

The serial number on my stainless countertop. And the mint green paint I've grown to love.

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