Imagination doesn't just mean making things up. It means thinking things through, solving [problems] or hoping to do so, and being just distant enough to be able to laugh at things that are normally painful. [Some people] would call this escapism, but they would be be entirely wrong. I would call fantasy the most serious, and the most useful branch of writing there is.
--Diana Wynne Jones

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Na-Po-Mo

A quote for National Poetry Month:

"When in doubt there is always form for us to go on with...The background is hugeness and confusions shooting away from where we stand into black and utter chaos...To me, any form I assert upon it is...to be considered for how much more it is than nothing....The poem is a momentary stay against confusion."
                                                        --Robert Frost

And a poem, by Sylvia Plath:

The Night Dances


A smile fell in the grass.
Irretrievable!

And how will your night dances
Lose themselves. In mathematics?

Such pure leaps and spirals ----
Surely they travel

The world forever, I shall not entirely
Sit emptied of beauties, the gift

Of your small breath, the drenched grass
Smell of your sleeps, lilies, lilies.

Their flesh bears no relation.
Cold folds of ego, the calla,

And the tiger, embellishing itself ----
Spots, and a spread of hot petals.

The comets
Have such a space to cross,

Such coldness, forgetfulness.
So your gestures flake off ----

Warm and human, then their pink light
Bleeding and peeling

Through the black amnesias of heaven.
Why am I given

These lamps, these planets
Falling like blessings, like flakes

Six sided, white
On my eyes, my lips, my hair

Touching and melting.
Nowhere.
 
 

Monday, April 19, 2010

National Poetry Month and a poem

April is National Poetry Month.

 This happens to be fitting because I happen to be writing a poetry novel--a story written almost entirely in verse.

Why would anyone do such a thing? Besides the fact that April is National Poetry Month? (Which is sort of irrelevant, actually, since I wrote the first draft before I'd ever heard of Na. Po. Mo).



First, because my agent thought I should.


Second, because it's fun.


Third, because I think a lot of teachers kill poetry for teenagers. I got lucky and had a teacher who showed me why I should love it. I'd like to pass that on, try to make poetry a little more accessible to kids.

But that begs the question: WHY on earth would anyone want to read a poetry novel?

I don't know.


Because it's a good story, I hope.


And it doesn't rhyme, mostly. And I've tried not to be obscure.


Because it deals with real-life teenage issues and is sometimes romantic.


And because I learned when I was seventeen that poetry speaks to the heart more any other kind of writing. It can make you laugh. It can make you bawl. It can rip your heart out. It can be powerful. I hope mine will be.

So, well, here's a poem for Na. Po. Mo. No, I didn't write it. Yes, I wish I had. Here's "Pied Beauty," by my favorite poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, a nineteenth-century Jesuit priest who, as you might expect, wrote a lot of religious poetry, though you don't have to religious to appreciate what he does with language (sound, rhythm, imagery):

      
Glory be to God for dappled things--
   For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;

       For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;
       And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
       With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                                  Praise him.

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