Horoscopes (April 17 & April 18)

The writing prompts for the past two days of NaPoWriMo sent me into some sort of nostalgia fever dream, and I lost a whole afternoon to thoughts of the mixtapes I used to record on actual cassette tapes, the slow, careful process of cuing up a song on your dual cassette deck, the search for those short, sweet songs to fill the last few inches of tape, the labor involved in handwritten track lists. The love, the unbearable tenderness we infused into our homemade compilations. The emotions we projected on to them. The hopes they carried.

Obviously, I am in some sort of mood. Yesterday’s prompt, which encouraged us to write about a forgotten technology, obviously made me think of mixtapes, but I couldn’t figure out how to write a poem about them in a world where High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, and the film High Fidelity starring John Cusack, and the television series High Fidelity starring Zoe Kravitz all already exist. Then I read the poem mentioned in the prompt (“Blue Screen of Death” by Adam Clay) and realized no poem I ever wrote about mixtapes would ever be that good. So I decided to sleep on the mixtape idea and see what I could come up with tomorrow (a.k.a. today).

Then, today, the prompt asked us to write an ode to life’s small pleasures. I immediately thought of coffee and the impeccable Greg Brown song “Good Morning Coffee,” which always makes me smile.

Now is the time where I tell you I wrote a poem about coffee. Or a poem about mixtapes. Or both. But I just … couldn’t. I am full of ennui and what I would call existential despair if we didn’t all know it’s actually social distancing despair. I firmly believe we all should be staying home, potentially for much longer than we anticipate, but I am also concerned that I may never see my family (and my sister’s kids in particular) again. I am concerned about not being able to work. I am concerned about my favorite chefs and bartenders and servers and restaurant managers not being able to work. I am concerned about not being able to go to the library. Still, we’re inside. We need to stay inside. So I decided the poems I wrote today should also turn inward. I decided to use the horoscopes Chani Nicholas did for my sign (Taurus) in February, March, and April as source texts, and I turned these into three erasure poems.

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Today I listened to the new Fiona Apple album, which my social networks have been literally raving about, while I wrote. I just don’t know how I feel about it yet. It could be that I just can’t move out of the 90s right now. I can’t forget seeing Fiona Apple at The Boathouse in Norfolk, Virginia during the Tidal tour.

15 April 2020

We’re exactly halfway through NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo, and I am actually pleased with my progress for once. I love the prompt for today, which challenges us to write a poem inspired by our favorite kind of music. I will definitely attempt this prompt in the future, but today I just worked on a few more anger erasures. I am not in a particularly angry mood, but I am still interested in these Wikipedia erasures I have been doing on and off for about a year and a half.

Today I used the Wikipedia entries for anger, coping strategies, suppression and anger, physiology as my source texts. (Spoiler alert: Suppression doesn’t actually seem to be a super effective strategy for coping with anger.) Also, these erasures came out very dense, with tense little clusters of words that seem to reflect the inherent tension of the subject matter. So, maybe have a nice sip of something while you read.

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While I wrote, I listened to No Need to Argue by The Cranberries, which contains one of the ultimate anger anthems of my generation. Which is Generation X, if that was not already abundantly obvious.

 

9 April 2020

I am so intrigued by today’s prompt for NaPoWriMo! It invites us to make our poem more concrete by forming it into a shape that reflects its theme. I spent a lot of time reading Windowboxing by Kirsten Kaschock, the poet mentioned in today’s NaPoWriMo post, and I am now officially obsessed with her/her work and the portmanteau. Sadly, I could not figure out a way to make my poem concrete in the way I wanted to, so instead I made it virtual af by using Canva to form my poem into an Instagram post.

 
That’s the poem I made (for the gram), and it looks nothing like what I pictured when I first read the prompt. I wanted to find a way to create the shape of my poem with its actualy text, the way my friend Jessica does with some of her handwritten poems (example below). But I wanted to this digitally because I don’t have any interesting paper in the house. I played around with a couple different design tools, but this task definitely falls outside my current skill set. Someday, maybe.

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Today I listened to Under the Pink (1994, yo) by Tori Amos while I worked on this poem-post. In college, my favorite song from this album was “Pretty Good Year,” but now I think “Past the Mission” is my favorite.

7 April 2020

I woke up with significantly less anger today. I felt very comforted by today’s writing prompt: write a poem based on a news article. The post even included links to a few news articles which, thankfully, had little to do with the actual news. I am actively avoiding the majority of those reports. I just read my daily Brookline, MA update each night and then check the latest numbers (you know which ones) in The Guardian. I limit the rest of my news consumption to coverage of the Royal family, updates from Shedd Aquarium, and Bon Appétit content.

Thinking about poetry and news at the same time always reminds me of these lines from William Carlos Williams:

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Those lines come from Williams’ long poem “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,” and you can read an excerpt from it here.

So, as you can see, the news and poems can complement each other, and I liked seeing this juxtaposition in today’s NaPoWriMo prompt. I decided to use the article “Researchers Discover Faraway Planet Where the Rain is Made of Iron” as the source text for an erasure, and I found the process of creating this poem very restful. The poem did not demand anything from me or take anything from me. I just let my mind glide over the words, keeping the ones that struck a chord. Is this the best poem I have ever written? No. Is this worst poem I have ever written? Also no. It’s just a poem I made that has the word pretty in it. And that’s fine.

[Jill Hurst-Wahl uses the phrase “And that’s fine” in almost every one of her collection development lectures, and I find it so soothing.]

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7April2020_CapeCanaveral-2I was listening to Live Through This by Hole while I did this erasure, which does not sound restful or meditative but, oddly enough, was.

6 April 2020

Today, the NaPoWriMo prompt asks us to write an ekphrastic poem that uses Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights as its inspiration. This prompt felt exhausting to me for no apparent reason. I woke up in an extremely foul mood, hating everything and everyone. Moods like this always remind me of Edith Wharton’s novel Summer because in the opening scene the main character steps outside and says, “How I hate everything!”

The first time I read Summer that scene resonated with me on a deep, primal level, and I think of it often.

So, I feel a bit like Charity Royall today, even though she detests working in the library and I adore working in the library, and I did not use today’s prompt. Instead I started working on a little erasure series about anger, using sections from this Wikipedia entry as my source text.

Feels cute. Might delete it later. Might do a hundred more erasures titled anger. Might listen to the Captain Marvel soundtrack a thousand times in a row.

How about you? What emotion are you experiencing today? What are you listening to? What are you writing? What will make you happy tomorrow?

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