I love ekphrasis! While writers can often struggle with inspiration or direction, influence from other artists can really help guide and shape your work, or even just give a nice starting kick. (I find that music especially can help me relax enough to let the words come, give me a feeling, and sometimes that's all you have to do.) This poem & accompanying painting are the result of a response to some Sisters of Mercy, the Dragonlance chronicles, Harlan Ellison's Paingod, and however much self-indulgence was necessary to have me use my own work as inspiration. Honestly, I'd recommend trying it yourself - you gain a multiplicity of methods to express different facets of a concept: your work in conversation with itself.
“Stop thinking about art works as objects and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences. What makes a work of art good for you is not something that s already inside it but something that happens inside you.” ― Brian Eno
Thoughts of when when we are kids started to be the center most thought in my head for days. Comparing how we are now to how we were then, how we didn’t understand much. How our children, if we so chose to have any, would be in that same position where they need to learn. How us as parents want to have them know everything but nothing at the same time, so they don’t feel the pain we have had to go through or others had. But they can’t be protected fully, we can only help guide them with what we know.
This was a walking poem, a form popular among modernist poets, especially the likes of Clare and Hopkins, and in their tradition, contemporary poets such as Oliver. Traditionally, walking poems are pastoral, focused on nature, but contemporary renditions are more flexible in their inclusion of people and or signs of the poet. This poem is inspired especially by Oliver, who puts longing in the landscape, as J. D. Salinger said.
You've probably heard of erasure poems. They're created by taking a text - any text, really - and erasing or blacking out most of the poem's text. It's a form of found poetry which became popular in the new millennium, especially for political poetry. It's an excellent form for this function, as you can take a text and comment on or subvert it by extracting your own message. It's not a necessarily contradictory form, though, and you can use erasure poetry as you would any other form.
You can create erasure poetry yourself fairly easily with a black pen and a newspaper or magazine. You can also use a web app, which is good if you're indecisive, like me. A professor of poetry at my university directed me to the Wave Books erasure website, and I can recommend it. There's a limited selection, but they're all fascinating, and you can do really anything with any passage. I used an Aristophanes passage, which you can see at the above link, and made it about the sapphic agenda. This website is great because you can erase and bring back words and punctuation at will. It's a circular and fascinating process, and I recommend it highly. (alt text at the bottom of the article.)
Now is the time for a confession - this website uses pseudonyms. And don't worry, the irony of being called Kali but going by Sekhmet is not lost on me. I wanted to separate the poet from the rest of the things I do here, like writing these articles, or reviewing submissions. It's like an inverted pen name. There was no rule for this, or for deities, but who doesn't want to go by something like that? It's a blessing and a curse.
As you can see above, the Wave Books app lets you see what you've erased, and keeps the passage's original structure. This, of course, is a matter of preference, and I encourage you to look for other digital methods. I personally prefer to retain structure, the modernesque staggering adding to the energy of the piece, but it would also be easy to transcribe into another document. I did it for the alt text, which you can find below the cut. For all the confinements of form, there are still many stylistic choices to be made.
And as for the moon? Well, I stand by what I said.
Running water is so nice to listen to, especially in a stream. The photo I took inspired this personal yet necessary poem. I look at my poetry, as well as my photography, as an extension of me. So, I decide to share my person with you, and encourage you all to look introspectively and ask yourselves, is your mind filling with water?
Winter slice screwdriver,
BY KALI NORRIS, AKA SEKHMET
Oranges aren't the most peculiar subject for an ode, but they're not as romantic as many idols, and may seem mundane. This was an assignment, and I knew as soon as I was told we would be writing odes that I would write mine about oranges. They're everyday, yes, a fruit like any other, but part of poetry is digging into the ordinary and pulling meaning out of it. I didn't expect to find so much, or such depth of emotion. I urge you to select something familiar and explore its true meaning. Sekhmet
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This blog is the companion to The Last Day of the Year Literary Magazine. Follow us here for thoughts, process, and our own work. We're so glad to have you.