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Sunday, April 23, 2017

NaPoWriMo 2017 Day Sixteen, The Letter

Dear Journal,

You must think I'm neglecting you, but you can be sure I remember you.   I think about you every day, but somehow the time slips away or something or someone else comes up and -- there you go. Today's NaPoWriiMo was to write  poem in the form of a letter.  Well, let me start with the letter itself, a letter to you that's long overdue. Here's a short one...

When was the last time met; do you remember?  I know for sure it hasn't been since last year, because I had a knee replaced last summer, and I don't think you even know about that. I think we've only met once since that year in Sweden when my husband and I stayed at our friends' cottage on that pristine forest lake I especially remember that, how we laughed in the sauna because my husband gamely joined our host family, steaming in the altogether, while I, one of her very best friends despite living a third of a globe of distance, insisted on wearing my bathing suit and steaming on a lower bench.

Across the Bay of Bothnia, in Finland, our relatives had declined to heat their sauna at all in that hottest of Augusts ever. There we'd dined on soups, and at tea tables with egg butter, piirakka, crisp rye breads and strawberry tortes. In Sweden we ate steak, along with mushrooms my friend had picked along her morning walk down the sun spackled shade of the forest road. I went with her one da, and found out that there really are mushrooms with bright red, white-spotted caps!  Until then I'd assumed them to be figments of children's book illustrators' imaginations. (Don't eat them: they're poisonous, as many pretty things are!)

I could go on...more discoveries and imaginary figments every day.

Figment...'must add that to my list of interesting of the distractions from getting back to you, my journal friend, on a daily basis.  Although, alas, I've begun neglecting her too.  The list, that is.  And I do have lists: to-do lists, grocery lists, call-back lists, bills-to-pay lists, things to take along on the trip list.  They all add up, subtracting more and more from what ideally would be my 'quiet' time. My rest time.  My catch up with my friends time.  Receding, receding, receding....

'Have to go now...I'm pretty busy living the day-to-day, these days.  'Nice talking to you!


P.S., I think I want to try re-writing this as a poem...At least. this here's  a start....

Thursday, April 20, 2017

NaPoWriMo 2017 Day Fifteen, The Natural Middle (Unfinished poem tbd)

Day Fifteen's challenge is write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something. The poem could be about being on a journey and stopping for a break, or the gap between something half-done and all-done. Half a loaf is supposedly better than none, but what’s the difference between half of a very large loaf and all of a very small one? Let your mind wander into the middle distance, betwixt the beginning of things and the end. Hopefully, you will find some poetry there!

Whatever you do
     mother would admonish me
     that I still hear her voice
     never ceases to astonish me

do with all your might
     she tried with motherly might
     at home, at church, at school
     to distinguish wrong from right.

a job done by halves
     whether homework assignment
     or setting table for dinner
     or enduring a long confinement.

is never done right.
     according to my brother
     .......    Oh mother

if you could only see me now!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NaPoWriMo 2017 Day Fourteen, Short and Sweet

Day Fourteen's challenge is to write a clerihew, a four line biographical poem satirizing a famous person. Similar to a limerick, which has five lines and does not (necessarily!) refer to real person.

Here's mine:

And now folks, here's Stephen Colbert.
For skewering news he has a flair.
*He's a profound proclivity
for satirizing civility.
                                 --Shirley Smith Franklin

* I realize there's the possibility of interpreting this as He IS instead of  He HAS, as I intended.
   but it's all just in fun---so go figure!

**Okay, you're right, an outright HE HAS would work better.  See? That's how (I would guess most) poems get written (and re-written, and re-written...), a little at a time, one step forward, two steps back, until it finally tells the author it's done.  And yes, I call it fun.

NaPoWriMo Day Thirteen 2017: What I've learned about Ghazals

Day Thirteen:  What I've learned about Ghazals So Far

Today's  prompt is to write a ghazal, a form NaPoWriMo says originated in Arabic and Persian poetry. According to,  the ghazal "is composed of a minimum of five couplets—and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous."  There are other modified definitions out there, including using the same or similar second line throughout. I just use what works for the ghazal at hand. The form of simply a series of couplets, seems to be becoming more popular in English language writing these days, --I enjoy the ghazal because it has some discipline of a given/chosen/defined form, along with the freedom to combine a variety of thoughts, line and poem lengths,  and the option to rhyme or not to rhyme. 

 I've written several perhaps a dozen of ghazals, a couple of which, I think, 'work.' Although, one writing teacher paused at the fact that my poems seemed to address themes, rather than consisting of relatively random, unrelated verses not, or not related beyond sharing a topic or mood...(what's the difference between that and "a theme"?!)

Ideally, "both lines of the first couplet end with the same phrase or endword, [which] is also repeated at the end of each couplet...[and the poem includes] internal rhymes[,] a reference to your own name in the final couplet." (from NaPoWriMo Day Fourteen challenge).

Ghazals have traditionally consisted of laments, thoughts about love, or drinking thoughts (?). One tradition in writing a ghazal is to include a question, request, plea, or lament addressed to God or a higher power in the last couplet, as well as incorporating the author's name or reference. Modern or American ghazals often take more liberties (those Americans!), but retain the couplet format.

Oh, and did I say that, ghazals can be fun?!

Friday, April 14, 2017

NaPoWriMo 2017 Day Twelve: A Litter of Alliteration (Consonants) and Assonance (vowels)

NaPoWriMo Day Twelve's challenge is simply to write a poem containing alliteration and assonance, which I'd describe as playful efforts to load the poem with words containing similar consonants and vowels.

This is fun.  I've enjoyed it in my own school days. Though it sticks in my mind as something to which I was introduced during junior high school, it's really what little children do spontaneously as they develop their vocabulary, ritually chanting words and phrases that fascinate them.  First graders, of whom I've taught quite a few! like to get into the alliterative mode, in particular.

I enjoyed, though I labored some over, the following poem.  Is it a heart cry?  Hmm, 'may be a good match for others I've written about writing...tbd.

Is this just a draft -- or final copy? (I think it is wanting one more line. Oh! I've got it! But I won't write it here so that what you see is unfinished and, augmented, presumably can be submitted as 'never published.' Look for/listen to me at the Open Mike Night at Bloomington Old Town Hall on Penn and 90- somethingth, this April 20th!)  

A Litter of Alliteration
by Shirley Smith Franklin

A little alliteration, they said,
try a little alliteration.
Authors pondering upon day twelve
the depths of their minds will have to delve,
forced to foray into the very interior,
evaluate their verses, whether sup- or inf-
rior, their valuable verses, whether they rhyme,
whether verses validate, are fine or absurd    
or simply evoke a celebratory word.
Consonants and vowels with a smile or a frown,
wander the alphabet up and down.
Such slight sounds volley words fine or absurd,
I invoke God, my muse. I must be heard.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

NaPoWriMo 2017 Day Eleven

Day Eleven:  The "(optional) prompt for the day is the Bop," invented by poet Afaa Michael Weaver. It's a hybrid of a sonnet and a song." Like a Shakespearan sonnet, it introduces, discusses, and then solves (or fails to solve) a problem. Like a song, it relies on refrains and repetition."

 In the basic Bop poem,
             followed by a one-line refrain.

    The next,
             followed by the one-line refrain. 

    or concludes 
    the problem, 
            followed by the refrain. 

"Here’s an example of a Bop poem written by Weaver, and here’s another by the poet Ravi Shankar."  
                     I don't know whether NaPoWriMo's examples will open for you from my blog. Let' s both try, and learn something in the process. (Note: They did open, for me.)  I was especially taken with Ravi Shankar's poem,  with a refrain taken from another writer! The poem reflected my morning moods this week.

                     The Bop sounds like a very fun and do-able form. I will have to table it until several current priorities in my life progress to a certain point. I'm checking them off mhy list, one by one. Staying focused. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 10, 2017

NaPoWriMo 2017 Day Ten: You Were Important to Me

Today's assignment:  Write a poem that is a 'portrait' (not necessarily describing looks) of a person important to you.  Wow, it might take a long time to zero in on just one.  For some reason, it occurs to me to write about someone who once was, but no longer is.

When I Needed You

It was then, on the cusp of adulthood
You were always there when I needed you,
Learning to spread my wings would have been good,
You were always there when I didn't, too.

It was there, in the unguarded moments,
You were very there when I needed space,
accompanying my ordinary
You were also there when I needed grace.

Despite the time I poured milk in your lap,
always there when I needed rescue, truly.
Careening into cusp of adulthood,
you were there to consider options, coolly....

{rough draft of first verses,  more to come and be revised.}.

You were important to me then, not  now,
no, not even then, not now, not ever,
I'll forget you til memory fades forever.
you were never that important to me.
                          --Shirley Smith Franklin
Good bye.

Typically spare, bare, my poetry.  How can I infuse metaphor, color, gut-feeling into
this poem which is like so many of mine, presented in the abstract, with  not a whole lot of context to draw upon....