NaPoWriMo Day 14: Brianna

I realized, today, that posting poems on the Internet makes them ineligible for publication.  Darn.  I wonder if that’ll ever change?  A weblog is hardly in the same camp as a literary journal, but it’s also not the same as showing something to your friends around a table at a bar.  Anyway, it means that’s the end of my sharing of terrible first drafts.  I’ll finish out the month by writing about whatever writing work I do that day, and maybe posting some excerpts, a la the very wise Mary.

Today I wrote the bones of a poem about riding the Skytrain.  It’s called, brilliantly, Skytrain, and I started while riding the Skytrain.  Imagine that!

And I spent most of the day organizing batches of submissions for literary journals and a chapbook publisher.  I think my eyes are now permanently crossed.  Not the most fun work, but it always feels good to get it done (or almost done–I have more niggling format issues to conquer tomorrow).

NaPoWriMo Day 11* (Brianna)

Just playing around, really just playing, with a word from the N+7s and in a style I don’t consider my own.  To my surprise, I like where the last 2 lines went.

metronome metronome metronome metronome
tick tick
tick tock
tock tick
tock tock
metre nom
no more

* I’m skipping/already skipped days 9 & 12 for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  And I realized somehow my numberings have been off by a day, so maybe I accidentally skipped another day, too?

NaPoWriMo Days 6, 7, and 8 (Brianna)

I took a detour from the road trip poem(s) to play around with N+7s. Can you tell what texts originated these? Two of them, at least, should be easy.

N+7 #1 (nouns)


The appellation of these faciations in the crowner;
Petards on a wet, black boulangerite.

N+7 #2 (nouns and verbs)

Tempt us how we’re doling;
tan our survivalism in the next thivish deacons
and enterlace for a chandelier to window a
fixidity hundredweight dolman fuze shopper gigantomachy cardiac.

N+7 3 (nouns)

The lordship’s my Sheraton; I’ll not want.
He makes me lie down in green pataphysics.
He leads me beside still water-dogs.

He restores my sound;
He leads me in pathogens of right-handers
for his nancy’s sakura.

These were surprisingly time-consuming to prepare (“write” doesn’t feel like the right word here), especially because I was using my two-book OED. It was an interesting exercise and I had to keep myself from getting subsumed by the multitude of new-to-me words that popped up as I flipped through the dictionary.

Most of the words the N+7 technique created are words I’ve never used in poetry before, which led to 2 possible ideas that I might explore during the rest of April, instead of more road tripping. Idea 1: each day, write a poem incorporating one of these N+7 words. Idea 2: write form (or otherwise constrained) poems every day. I do enjoy working in form, especially when I’ve been in a creative dry spell.

Honestly, though, I’m not sure what the point of “writing” N+7s is. They don’t produce much that’s truly interesting–lyrically, linguistically, experimentally, even novelty-wise–for me, and I don’t feel I learned anything from them either, except that the dictionary is cool. And I already knew that. I think Joanne might be on to something with her version, though. Joanne, how did it turn out?

I also suspect I’d have more interesting results if I used a much shorter dictionary.

I’d love to hear thoughts on this from anyone else.

NaPoWriMo Day 5 (Brianna)

(What I’m up to.)

Thanks, everyone, for the encouraging comments! They’re very motivating.

Mary, I put Kamloops and Osoyoos in there specifically for you!

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, II

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, II

Walking the lip of the jump, I notice a tree
a ways off the path, a scraggly, wind-wracked,
haphazard excuse for a tree, still leafless
for the most part, and cold-looking.
Bits of bundled fabric—frayed, sun-faded, more like rags
than ribbons—hang in its branches. They seem somehow eerie,
like abandoned toys, or Christmas lights no one bothered
to take down. It sticks in the back of my mind.
As I leave I mention it to the Blackfoot girl at the desk.
The asking makes me shy, like an intruder. She glances away
and says the tree is sacred. It holds offerings and prayers
to the ancestors, so that they can use this place. Does that tree
cover for me? Or could I, in all fairness, trip and fall
over the jump, that wind that frays the fabric
fanning out my hair, before my skull splits
on the kill ground, brains white as cloud, falcon food.

NaPoWriMo, Day 4 (Brianna)

(What I’m up to.)

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, I

A peregrine and his mate nest in the face of the jump,
now, in the quiet season, before tourists herd themselves up
and down its slope, craning their necks, snapping
photographs.  Now it’s just us and the biting wind
he glides on, and his shriek.  He lands on a signpost
he doesn’t know is a signpost, flares his feathers, eyes us
with ancient ferocity.  Guarding his nest
from our invasion of two, our binoculars
and peanut butter crumbs.   Poor guy,
I tell my husband. He has no idea
what’s gonna come.

NaPoWriMo, Day 3

I forgot: writing poetry is hard.

I don’t think I’m going to title my daily bits of poem, because they won’t all be individual poems, and may in fat all be pieces of a single long poem.

Pack the tent like pick-up-sticks, shake ice
from its nylon guts, jump  in the car,
crank the heat, repeat—
three mornings in a row marked by the mad dash
to Tim Horton’s red signs, two double doubles each,
the CBC to keep us company
and Canadian.  My hands crack, red
from snowmelt wash and gas station bathroom soap.
Night number four—all campgrounds closed,
we camp in a farmer’s field and wake
to geese shitting up a storm beside
a frozen pond—white ice, white shit,
white snow—and me to my period, red gush of blood
on top of all that white.

NaPoWriMo plans, and first instalment

I was sick for 2 days, so I’m cheating a bit and backdating my first 2 NaPoWriMo entries.  I’ve written next to nothing poetry-wise since September, and I’m going to get over that by writing every day for the next month.  And I’m going to post it all, in its terrifyingly rough and unedited nakedness, here.  To give myself some guidance, I’m going to write about the trip I took across Canada and back through the southern US last summer.  I camped the whole way, there was much chaos and bad weather, and there should be plenty to keep me going.  The writing itself will probably be terrible–I’m an obsessive reviser and will usually go over a poem for weeks or months, or at least days, before showing it to anyone–but I’m interested to see what it will feel like to post first drafts publicly.  It means I’ll also have a record of what I first wrote, which I can compare the final version to much later down the road.  They’ll probably be insanely different, since I try not to self-edit too much during my first drafts.  If I do any revising during this time, I’ll hold it back at least until NaPoWriMo is over.

I feel like I need to post a whole slew of disclaimers about how this isn’t what my poetry looks like by the time I edit and publish it, alongside a bunch of pleas for patience and mercy, but what the heck.  Here’s day 1.

Heading Out

Out of the rain forest that holds you like green fog,

through the the alkaline lakes by Kamloops,

the pocket desert in Osoyoos where owls burrow down

in the roots of cacti, the running joke of Spuzzum—one house,

one gas pump, and somehow still a town—

over the mountain border, a half hours’ stop

in Banff, espresso and eight-dollar Internet, the irony of elk

hoofing it down the sidewalk, past Starbucks and the GAP

and tourists who want photos with wild bears—what is it

with them, a death wish? But who wouldn’t

want to die here, under bright snow, next to the lake

so clear and deep there aren’t words for all the colours

glowing in it.

plants using their bright stamens as tuning forks

I’m getting ready for NaPoWriMo by coming up with lists of prompts and inspiring poems (both of which I’ll be posting here) and thinking about topics I may want to tackle. I definitely want to try to write something about being my grandfather’s pallbearer last month, and maybe something about the arsonist who burned down the world’s largest red cedar bucket, and I want to experiment some more with N+7. I’ll be posting about my progress both here and at my blog. I bought a new notebook, which fits in my purse, and will be trying to write on my lunch hours as well as at home.

Also, I had two poems published last weekend: “The Hitch in Yr Getalong” at My Poem Rocks and “Evolution” at Mise En Poem. If those sites look amazingly similar, that’s because they’re edited by the same person.