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Archive for February 6th, 2018

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Once again this year I have joined Laura Shovan’s February writing challenge.  Her birthday is this month, and she celebrates by inspiring others to write a poem every day.  I thought this was maybe my third year of doing this challenge, but the other day one of those Facebook memories came up and reminded me that I’ve done this for 5 years.  That’s a lot of poems!

This year’s challenge is writing ekphrasis which is poetry about art.  Every day a participant posts a work of art for us to respond to.  I’ve managed to write each day since the warm-ups started.

I’ve set up rules for myself.  When I see the image on Facebook, I save it and place it in a Google doc.  Then I do not allow myself to read other people’s poems until I’ve written mine. (I cheat on this one.) I write and revise quickly, no overthinking the process, and copy and paste my poem into the Facebook post as a comment.  I comment on at least 3 other poets.  The group has grown to over 100 people, so it’s just not feasible to comment on them all.

Ekphrasis is a good way to inspire poetry because there is no form attached.  You can write in any way you choose, form or free verse, short or long.  You can write a mask poem from the painting/sculpture’s point of view.  You can be on the outside looking in or on the inside looking out.

The flexibility of form appeals to me.  Some days the poems come easily and others I have to let sit a while.  Sometimes I research the artist.  When a sculpture by Rodin came up, I researched and found a quote to work from.  Sometimes I research the topic. I collect words and then write.

Writing a poem a day is a challenge.  But when you are participating in a group of kind responders, the writing is worthwhile and rewarding.  We need each other.  We need to feel a part of something bigger. We need affirmation and acceptance.

One of the most profound for me was Laura’s son Jay’s self-portrait.  Here is the portrait by Jay Shovan and my poem.

Unfinished portrait by Jay Shovan

Unfinished

Deep brown eyes
stare at me,
look through me,
hold me still.

Slashed and dripped
with strokes of green,
baby blue, white
on flesh, each brush
from the palate played

like a piper in a parade
leading me to you,
but all I see now
are your eyes

drawing me into a window
of my own soul. These
are my eyes.

–Margaret Simon, (c) draft 2018

On the more whimsical side was this funny spoon sculpture by Raul Zuniga circa 1971.

Owls three
Smiley, Cranky, and Boastful
perched on a branch of a safety pin.
Bring me your wise ole thoughts
Find me a place to perch
Help me be the Who
I am meant to be.

–Margaret Simon, (c) draft 2018

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