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#napowrimo 2021
theotherpages · a day ago
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30 Essays on The Best Words in the Best Order, 2021 Edition
We did it. Thirty articles in just over 30 days, on many different aspects of poetry, from themes and contrasts to structure, meter, and rhyme, to metaphors and patterns, to breaking things down and building them back up, from expansive views to introspection. I hope you had a chance to enjoy at least some of the articles. If you didn’t, just a reminder that all 30 are archived on https://facebook.com/theotherpages and https://theotherpages.tumblr.com. I will comment that more of you may be Facebook users, but Tumbler is way better at indexing and presenting than Facebook. The Other Pages is also beautifully presented on Tumblr.
Sincere thanks to Kashiana Singh and Nelson Howard Miller for their help. We were without the services of Bob and Robin this year. Nelson actually did his articles while recovering from Covid, and Kashiana while moving across the country and participating in her amazing stream of other events.
The podcasts were a new experience for me, though Kashiana had done it before. They are archived on https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis.
For the record, while tallies continue, we will probably finish up with over 12,000 reads this year, and over 1,200 reactions and comments on Facebook. The most read article featured Maria Nazos and a poem about domestic abuse. Second place was a poem by Ladan Osman on a child’s perspective of racial disparities. Third place was Kashiana’s commentary on Laila Chatti.
This year’s pieces also focused more heavily on contemporary poets. This was educational and highly enjoyable for me, including the opportunity to listen to, meet, talk with, and even get to know some of the poets featured. Please note that the “other” Kashiana, Kashiana Sharma, does not exist. She is one of the virtual residents of The Republic of Dreams.
Yes, we’ll probably do this again next year (“Yay! We’re being renewed for another season!”), but I think I’ll need to draft some additional editorial help.If you’d like to volunteer, let me know.
A catalog of this year’s episodes is included below. If you’ve liked any of this, please SHARE on your favorite social media platform.
--Steve Spanoudis.
1. Denise Levertov - The Room
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-01---Denise-Levertov-etm13r
2. Molly Peacock - The Flaw
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-02---Molly-Peacock-ettvmq
3. Terence Degnan - the yes no
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-03-Terence-Degnan-eu2bvk
4. Vassar Miller - Without Ceremony - article by Nelson Howard Miller
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-03-Vassar-Miller-eu49ut
5. Ladan Osman - The Key
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-05-Ladan-Osman-eu5vmv
6. Pat Mora - Curandera
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-06-Pat-Mora-eu65og
7. Maria Nazos - Waitress in a Small Town Seaside Tavern
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-07-Maria-Nazos-eubgl1
8. Hayden Carruth - The Ravine - article by Nelson Howard Miller
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-08-Hayden-Carruth-eublto
9. Eaven Borland - Becoming Anne Bradstreet
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-09-Eavan-Borland-eucpuc
10. Tishani Doshi - The Day We Went to the Sea
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-10-Tishani-Doshi-eul1fc
11. Yolanda Wisher - sonnet w/ cooking lexicon
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-11-Yolanda-Wisher-eun0hl
12. Laila Chatti - Deluge - article by Kashiana Singh
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-12-Leila-Chatti-eun4c5
13. Tina Cane - Some Kinds of Fire
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-01---Tina-Cane--Anna-Akhmatova-euriuc
14. Richard Blanco - La Florida Room
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-14---Richard-Blanco-eutlfj
15. Michael Hamburger - Grape and Nut Letter - article by Nelson Howard Miller
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-15-Michael-Hamburger-euv861
16. Ted Kooser - In the Basement of the Goodwill Store
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-16---Ted-Kooser-ev0jd3
17. Keorapetse William Kgositsile - Anguish Longer Than Sorrow
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-17-Keorapetse-William-Kgositsile-ev40s
18. Melissa Balmain - Love Poem
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-18-Melissa-Balmain-ev653a
19. Kazim Ali - The Voice of Sheila Chandra - article by Kashiana Singh
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-19-The-gleaming-work-of-Kazim-Ali---The-Voice-of-Sheila-Chandra-ev7kld
20. Nora Dauenhauer - Amelia’s FIrst Ski Run
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-20-Nora-Marks-Dauenhauer-ev8fum
21. Vona Groarke - Still Life in Marble
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-21-Vona-Groarke-evaoi4
22. Kashiana Sharma (f) - The View from Above
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-22-Kashiana-Sharma-fictional-evek5o
23. Fred Marchant - This is What the Mind Does
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-23-Fred-Marchant-evism2
24. Michael Torres - Because My Brother Knows Why They Call Them “County Blues,” but Won’t Tell Me Why
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-24-Michael-Torres-evlgs6
25. Khaled Mattawa - Bedtime Reading for the Unborn Child
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-25-Khaled-Mattawa-evn34c
26. Rita Dove - Dusting
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-26---Rita-Dove-evpoaa
27. Rainer Maria Rilke - Go to the limits of your longing - article by Kashiana Singh
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/20201-NPM-27---JoJo-Rabbit-and-Rainer-Maria-Rilke-e100ihe
28. Naomi Shihab Nye - You are Your Own State Department
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-28-Naomi-Shihab-Nye-e104bk7
29. Yonatan Berg - Unity
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-29-Yonatan-Berg-e106cpl
30. Jane Hirshfield - Three Foxes by the Edge of the Field at Twilight
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-30-Jane-Hirshfield-e106jed
The full text of all articles is available at The Other Pages mirrors
on Facebook: https://facebook.com/theotherpages
And Tumblr: https://theotherpages.tumblr.com
(scroll down for content on either page)
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theotherpages · 2 days ago
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2021 Podcasts, Part 2
A reminder that all of the articles from this year’s poetry series are available as a podcast. Search on “Steve Spanoudis” to find all the episodes on iTunes, Anchor, Breaker, Spotify, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic and PocketCast. If you like the articles, please share.
Here are direct links to individual episodes on Anchor.fm:
12. Laila Chatti - Deluge - article by Kashiana Singh
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-12-Leila-Chatti-eun4c5
13. Tina Cane - Some Kinds of Fire
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-01---Tina-Cane--Anna-Akhmatova-euriuc
14. Richard Blanco - La Florida Room
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-14---Richard-Blanco-eutlfj
15. Michael Hamburger - Grape and Nut Letter - article by Nelson Howard Miller
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-15-Michael-Hamburger-euv861
16. Ted Kooser - In the Basement of the Goodwill Store
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-16---Ted-Kooser-ev0jd3
17. Keorapetse William Kgositsile - Anguish Longer Than Sorrow
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-17-Keorapetse-William-Kgositsile-ev40s
18. Melissa Balmain - Love Poem
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-18-Melissa-Balmain-ev653a
19. Kazim Ali - The Voice of Sheila Chandra - article by Kashiana Singh
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-19-The-gleaming-work-of-Kazim-Ali---The-Voice-of-Sheila-Chandra-ev7kld
20. Nora Dauenhauer - Amelia’s FIrst Ski Run
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-20-Nora-Marks-Dauenhauer-ev8fum
21. Vona Groarke - Still Life in Marble
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-21-Vona-Groarke-evaoi4
The full text of all articles is available at The Other Pages mirrors
on Facebook: https://facebook.com/theotherpages
And Tumblr: https://theotherpages.tumblr.com
(scroll down for content on either page)
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theotherpages · 4 days ago
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2021 Podcasts, Part 1
A reminder that all of the articles from this year’s poetry series are available as a podcast. Search on “Steve Spanoudis” to find all the episodes on iTunes, Anchor, Breaker, Spotify, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic and PocketCast. If you like the articles, please share.
Here are direct links to individual episodes on Anchor.fm:
1. Denise Levertov - The Room
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-01---Denise-Levertov-etm13r
2. Molly Peacock - The Flaw
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-02---Molly-Peacock-ettvmq
3. Terence Degnan - the yes no
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-03-Terence-Degnan-eu2bvk
4. Vassar Miller - Without Ceremony - article by Nelson Howard Miller
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-03-Vassar-Miller-eu49ut
5. Ladan Osman - The Key
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-05-Ladan-Osman-eu5vmv
6. Pat Mora - Currandera
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-06-Pat-Mora-eu65og
7. Maria Nazos - Waitress in a Small Town Seaside Tavern
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-07-Maria-Nazos-eubgl1
8. Hayden Carruth - The Ravine - article by Nelson Howard Miller
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-08-Hayden-Carruth-eublto
9. Eaven Borland - Becoming Anne Bradstreet
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-09-Eavan-Borland-eucpuc
10. Tishani Doshi - The Day We Went to the Sea
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-10-Tishani-Doshi-eul1fc
11. Yolanda Wisher - sonnet w/ cooking lexicon
https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-11-Yolanda-Wisher-eun0hl
The full text of all articles is available at The Other Pages mirrors
on Facebook: https://facebook.com/theotherpages
And Tumblr: https://theotherpages.tumblr.com
(scroll down for content on either page)
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theotherpages · 4 days ago
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2021 NPM Number 28 - Naomi Shihab Nye - You Are Your Own State Department
You can listen to the podcast version of this series on Spotify, ITunes, Anchor, (https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis) Look for the podcast titled National Poetry Month at the Other Pages.
Here is the direct link to the audio for this podcast: https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/2021-NPM-28-Naomi-Shihab-Nye-e104bk7
Welcome to National Poetry Month at The Other Pages. My name is Steve Spanoudis and I curate the series each year with help and contributions from Kashiana Singh and (Nelson) Howard Miller. I’m coming to you from Coral Springs, Florida, on the eastern edge of the Everglades.
Technically, National Poetry Month is over, but we didn’t quite get to thirty, so I thought I would squeeze a few more in.
Today’s poem, You Are Your Own State Department, was written by Naomi Shihab Nye, a woman who is, in many respects, much like her poem.
A common process in poetry is to describe something by talking about its pieces to give you a better picture of the whole. This poem is a first-person viewpoint, commentaries from her wanderings in life, and why she tries always (as we all should) to improve the things that we see wrong in the world. Even if it is only little things. That mirrors the idea of a thing being made of its smaller parts. And this too is a common process - that the form of a poem is chosen sometimes to mirror the thought process or the subject.
First, just a few comments about the poet. Born in 1952 in Saint Louis, Missouri, to Palestinian and Swiss/German parents, she has written poetry, novels, essays, and songs, authoring or contributing to thirty books, and editing several collections. She recently served as the Young People’s Poet Laureate for the Poetry Foundation. She is known for finding novel but clear perspectives on people, things, places, and circumstances. You will hear those things very clearly in today’s poem. It starts out:
Each day I miss Japanese precision. Trying to arrange things
the way they would. I miss the call to prayer
at Sharjah, the large collective pause. Or
the shy strawberry vendor with rickety wooden cart,
single small lightbulb pointed at a mound of berries.
In one of China’s great cities, before dawn.
Nye has commented that her poetry comes from a combination of: “local life, random characters met on the streets, [and] our own ancestry sifting down to us through small essential daily tasks.” The poem continues,
Forever I miss my Arab father’s way with mint leaves
floating in a cup of sugared tea—his delicate hands
arranging rinsed figs on a plate. What have we here?
said the wolf in the children’s story
stumbling upon people doing kind, small things.
Is this small monster one of us?
And she talks about those people - sometimes people who are displaced or themselves living under fear or hatred of one kind or another, and those small things they contribute:
When your country does not feel cozy, what do you do?
Teresa walks more now, to feel closer to her
ground. If destination within two miles, she must
hike or take the bus. Carries apples,
extra bottles of chilled water to give away.
Kim makes one positive move a day for someone else.
She ends describing a conversation with her father, and her thoughts afterward,
We talked for two hours via Google Chat,
they did not complain once. Discussing stories,
books, families, a character who does
what you might do.
Meanwhile secret diplomats are what we must be,
as a girl in Qatar once assured me,
each day slipping its blank visa into our hands.
After reading it, I walk away with all of the points Nye mentions above, and the rhetorical question: if we have the opportunity to make “one positive move a day,” shouldn’t we use it?
I hereby draft you all to be “secret diplomats.”
The full text of this poem is online at the Poetry Foundation (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/149741/you-are-your-own-state-department) along with a much more extensive biography, and additional poems to read.
Thank you for Listening. If you’re enjoying these commentaries, and the poem selections, please share them - either the text versions or the podcasts - on social media.
Once again this is Steve Spanoudis at theotherpages.org. You can find more there, at The Other Pages on Facebook or Tumblr.
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enzymedevice · 5 days ago
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I made it through NaPoWriMo 2021!
I know I’m uploading this in May, but I did write it yesterday. Day 30 - Cell:
The edifice rises from chasmic horizons
and, doing so, engineers chess on four levels
which legions of lords could not overthrow;
paradigm shifts are maintained in the overflow
and so the president rises agape from her throne
and her glittering fingernails point to the moon
and the hovering moonspawn cry shrill in atonement
and clinking gold whispers,
“It's over too soon,"
and despicably
Earth is a cosmic spittoon.
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enzymedevice · 5 days ago
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NaPoWriMo Day 29 - A Razor to Their Knees
I don’t even know how description might start
of the depth of the pit that was carved in my heart;
I was ragged and hung on the cliffs of a past
inhospitable. Every breath felt like my last.
The retch was the climax of eons and eons.
I've stared into emptiness vaster than Tartarus,
colder than sand dunes at midnight, which sealed
me in madness. No mortal thing - nothing - is real.
From that point I was dizzied, was desperate, dethroned;
its knife cut acutely, exposing the bones
in my thighs. A gash opened which gutted me
like divine punishment. Angels were touching me.
Silence remains when some peace is regained.
I lose so much sleep teething on words to reclaim.
All the music stops suddenly, waiting for me
to apologise fruitlessly. Waiting for me.
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whyylois · 6 days ago
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10 April 2021 - half.alive said... (after creature - half.alive) 🌸 | insta: whyylois (where I have a reading of this poem)
Prompts from IG: Pareidolia - #escapril // Write a poem about the unanswered prayers or questions you have - #elocintingprompts // Write a blessing - #AmyKayPoemADay
🎶 Post soundtrack:
creature - half.alive (full credit to half.alive for the line "I am creation both haunted and holy"
Old Man River - Judy Garland (music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; Judy's version inspired the line "I may grow weary of living / but I sure as hell am too scared to die now")
Haunted House - Florence + the Machine (full credit to FaTM for the line "my heart is like a haunted house")
[bg pic: Canva | photo id under the cut]
half.alive said that I am creation both haunted and holy ready to be made a martyr for a life not yet lived deliver me from my ending as soon as you have conceived it because I may grow weary of living but I sure as hell am too scared to die now
I am creation both haunted and holy a living paradox plagued by pareidolia because everywhere I look I see myself there, in the clouds there, between the lines there, amongst the roots anywhere but my own reflection
half.alive said that I am creation both haunted and holy and I can't help but think that means I am a body possessed by something sacred which is to say that my heart is like a haunted house and my brain is a belfry where birds flutter past stained glass eyes
I am creation both haunted and holy and my prayers sound like song. Always song Even though I can't even sing you a hymn. My whole existence is a hymn I don't quite know the words to but I'm singing it anyways - God, I am still singing. With every breath that you blessed me to have I will sing. I pray that it is enough. I pray that I am enough.
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kevinjoconner · 6 days ago
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National Poetry Writing Month 2021, Day 30: I am here
National Poetry Writing Month 2021, Day 30: I am here
My Day 30 poem is my response to the NaPoWriMo.net prompt, which is to ‘write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place.’ (more…)
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prasannawrites · 6 days ago
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patchwork.
how cruel of april? to barge in with anger in her chest, and you’re still there in the morning. with light, i almost think of april as a secret lover, i said her absence is no longer a shadow. maybe, you and the sun were one in the same.
we are an ouroboros, redden earth, fertilized with your blood.
i ask too much of you – it’s true, i wrongly thought of your clavicles as home.
you reside softly between pink clouds, this is vulnerability at its peak; the words escape me.
i only see you, lamenting the dying of light – i do not know how to balm this storm.
you are laden with light – you put on a show as you could’ve formed me in any likeness. i am profound in your palms only.
you smell of poetry again - you once said you were convinced i can neatly categorize my life before-you, maybe that’s why all my words beat a steady trail everywhere i go.
all i know, with any certainty – you trample me with your soft fingers.
in a different mirror, you are like the stirring waters of the sea – you embody love like no one can.
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prasannawrites · 6 days ago
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you; a loud reason.
tell me why i feel more holy in your palms than praying to any of the gods?
tell me why i’ve never felt smaller when i rest my head on your shoulder?
it doesn’t take much, it’s always the little things that set me ablaze. why do my desires run rampant when i catch the morning light in your eyes – tell me why do i desire?
and if not your eyes –
it’s everything else, the way the wind plays with your hair, the way the sun tenderly kisses your skin.
it's you.
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prasannawrites · 6 days ago
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you are like the stirring waters of the sea, salt-wind licks your hair and tousles it in a fit of childish love, but you are not moved. foolish to think cusping my palms and drinking you in, meant i knew you in your entirety but that’s not the truth –
i know nothing of the ecosystems you house, i know nothing of your seabed. all i know is what you present on the surface – i see the sea-foam and think you’ve finally written back but the truth’s far simpler; it’s everything you didn’t want to amalgamate.
i dreamt of getting caught in your tides – the pulling and pushing, the violence of it all,
maybe that’s why i thought love was meant to be violent, something tumultuous and why i quake with a need to bleed for you.
is blood love?
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disheveledfemme · 6 days ago
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4/30
Take my hand little one,
stay close—the road ahead is unsteady,
overcast and overgrown.
Tricks play in the shadows
while whispering winds
heed false warnings—
but trust in my sure sight
that no matter how dark
or treacherous the path,
I will always guide you
to the light.
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prasannawrites · 6 days ago
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love is the way
you trample me with your soft fingers; clay in your palms – i am clay in your hands, they say love is akin to death, but i disagree. it's an undoing, you spill every ounce of you and hope enough splatters on them, and that they spill right back. that's why my hands are quivering penning this poem right now. i ask you to light a candle and point me in the direction of salvation, and you hurdle the sun at me, what else am i to do then wear your words on me like sunscreen? i'm convinced i died the night we first met, my body was meant to ascend but is weighed down the weight of yearning that churns in the pit of my stomach. maybe you encompass everything heaven has to offer. i'm homesick but never with you. you are the sea quelling its tide to grant me safe passage in a rowboat – your shore is hundreds of kilometers from here, but the voyage is pleasant enough that i don’t mind dying en route.
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schuylerpeck · 6 days ago
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30/30: for the close of this month, write a poem, in any format, about your wish for the world
instagram: hiitssky
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prasannawrites · 6 days ago
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spilliage
what is prayer to one who knows exactly what they want but do not have the nerve to reach out and grab it? i ask because i saw you in my dream, you were synonymous with the light on the horizon, the clouds were pink, fluffy, full of all the soft things that rise to my mouth when we’re speaking, and the water was tinged with blood – it was explained away with me standing chest-deep with a hole in my heart, maybe i got tired of the yearning and threw my heart at you, letting you become intimate with the way it beats your name, or maybe you asked another way to appreciate infinity and i would’ve ripped my heart out so we can dissect it together and i can point out the way you wrap around my heart in loops.
maybe you’ll come across this in a few years, and wonder if this poem was about you, and it is. you'll wonder why i was content with the yearning and you’ll have no answer.
i have no answer.
all i know, with any certainty is you, in your entirety.
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theotherpages · 6 days ago
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2021 NPM Number 27 - JoJo Rabbit and Rainer Maria Rilke
You can listen to the podcast version of this series on Spotify, ITunes, Anchor, (https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis) Look for the podcast titled National Poetry Month at the Other Pages.
Here is the direct link to the audio for this podcast: https://anchor.fm/steve-spanoudis/episodes/20201-NPM-Number-27---JoJo-Rabbit-and-Rainer-Maria-Rilke-e100ihe
Welcome to National Poetry Month at The Other Pages. Today’s article is by Poet and Contributing Editor Kashiana Singh, and unfortunately, as she is slightly under the weather today, it’s me you’ll be listening to on the podcast, instead of her soothingly thoughtful voice. My apologies. To quote Theo Metro, “It can’t be helped.”
JoJo Rabbit and Rainer Maria Rilke
By Kashiana Singh
There is a reason Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) is considered one of the twentieth century’s most influential poets.
Born in Prague, he published his first book of poems, Leben und Lieber, at age 19. In 1897 he met Lou Andreas-Salomé, the talented and spirited daughter of a Russian army officer, who influenced him deeply. Rainer is best known for such collections as Duino Elegies (Duineser Elegien) and Sonnets to Orpheus (Die Sonette an Orpheus), but also the semi-autobiographical novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge). Then, there’s also Letters to a Young Poet (Briefe an einen jungen Dichter), published after his passing.
His words are touchstones that other artists, from authors to poets to sculptors to filmmakers - often reference - words that are still relevant today. And could there be a message more relevant than love enabling humanity and love also being about setting free. Jojo Rabbit (https://youtu.be/tL4McUzXfFI), was a movie that was also a poem that touched souls with its poignancy. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
The central character of the movie is a fatherless 10-year-old boy coming of age in WWII. I do think the central character of the movie is also the poem itself “Going to the limits of your longing” (https://onbeing.org/poetry/go-to-the-limits-of-your-longing/)
Go to the limits of your longing
Rainer Maria Rilke
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
The essence of this poem, and the broader essence of Rilke’s poetry is what the movie has captured with nearly close perfection. Layering on top of that the turbulent times that our collective humanity has gone through over the last year, and that makes Jojo Rabbit and Rilke even more resonant and relevant.
The movie, Rilke’s holistic work, and this poem specifically is a totem, a guide, a spiritual map. It serves this purpose because of how simply, yet how aptly it weaves poetry into the journey of a young boy going through phases of accepting vs resisting emotion.
The film also captures another one of Rilke’s famous line’s that if you love someone, you must set them free. The boy has to learn that to love someone means to allow them their freedom to become truly themselves, rather than confine them to the boxed perception we have of them.
When I first watched Jojo Rabbit, by director Taika Waititi, it reminded me that the most tragic victims of the war, regardless of nationality, were the children. The other most striking part of the movie were the two visual motifs - the butterfly imagery and the mother’s distinctive pair of shoes. The final and personally to me the most lasting impact of course was the quote at the end of the movie -
Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.
Inspiring and comforting at the same time, at the end of the movie these lines left the audience in tears. They communicated that there is no end – there is more to come, that highs and lows and ebbs and flows are not permanent. There is a Buddhism present in these lines, there is emptiness and fullness, there is birth and death, there are moments of truth.
Rilke’s poetry evokes and gleans from the two deepest emotions that humanity experiences. The exhilarations of love and the experience of loss are delivered to us by Rilke in a palette infused with images, sounds, and textures. Written more than a century ago, they remain relevant and universal both in their form and their content because of how they ground the reader in the simplicity of the message, how they carry the reader into recognizing the overwhelming present emotion as temporary and moving into the next fluid state of universal passage of time.
The limits of your longing is as much prayer as it is a poem. It has an unebbing quality to its writing that illuminates in a lyrically intense way that is trademark Rilke. This poem is from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, published in 1905. Besides everything that has been said about this poem, what I take away as a poet from this specific writing is the juxtaposition – how he uses language and feeling to demonstrate the contrasts - beauty and terror, flame and shadow, limits of longing and no feeling is final.
Back to Jojo Rabbit, there is the juxtaposition there that evolves from the poem to the movie with the theme itself which is a setting of comedy but the core reflecting on life and acceptance. The large screen may be lighthearted, the character maybe a young boy but it is juxtaposed at its heart with poetic essence of life-learning and wisdom.
Whether we listen to his words as a spiritual voice or just a human voice, it is a necessary voice, a relevant call to go to the limits of our longing: with an acceptance of the tension between the beauty and terror of existence that walks hand in hand around us each day.
“Embody me,” says Rilke. Live my memory in that darkness. Be my hands, be my feet, be my look of love to the world. “Flare up like a flame and make big shadows I can move in.”
Thank you for listening – I hope poetry is helping restore kindness in your lives. Keep listening, You can find us on Facebook, tumblr and on our website – The Other Pages. Org
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Once again this is Steve Spanoudis pretending to be Kashiana Singh, thanks to Kashiana for writing today’s article. Her book, Shelling Peanuts and Stringing words is available from Impish Lass press on Amazon and other outlets.
You can find more articles, and more poetry at http://theotherpages.org, or The Other Pages on Facebook or Tumblr.
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authormarialberg · 6 days ago
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The Final Destination
Today’s final NaPoWriMo prompt is to write directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. The final PAD prompt is a goodbye poem. Over at the A to Z Challenge they have a word scramble. The Janus word for today is zip which can mean energy, vim, or nothing, nada, zero Time To Go Goodbye. It’s timefor me to beon my way If only I knewwhere I wanted to be I would zip up…
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