Friday, January 6, 2017

Poetry Friday: In Love with Somonkas

A new form for a new year: the somonka.

Well, it's actually an ancient Japanese form, but it's new to me, and I kind of...

LOVE IT.

Which is nice, because traditionally, somonkas are written on that very subject: love.

Even more fun, the somonka is a two-voiced poem, composed of one "statement" poem (syllable count 57577) and one "response" poem (same syllable count.)

I guess we could've waited to do these love-themed delights until February, but Liz took charge (as usual) and made sure January would not be poem-less. Thank you, Liz.

I wrote mine yesterday before I got my eyes dilated at the eye doctor. (A poet writes when she can.)

If you want to try one, know that you can write them with another poet, or compose both halves of the somonka yourself. They are unrhymed and usually have a title. Just remember the love theme: true love, sisterly love, unrequited love, pet love, any kind of love at all.  Mine is about love, apart.



Apart

Defrosting the fish
while writing you this letter
no scales, fins, or tail
nothing to do but wait, love
headless, we still shed the sea

I’m lonely as cod
too, dear; I’ll put your letter
to nose, cheek, to bed; 
You’ve eaten by now; how cold
paper is; an ocean, drained. 

              ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)


Don't miss the love my Poetry Sisters are sharing today, too:

Liz
Tricia
Kelly
Tanita
Laura


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Linda at TeacherDance.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Poetry Friday: Sanctuary

The Poetry Seven challenge this month was to write a poem on the theme of "sanctuary, rest, or seeking peace" inspired by the architectural art at one of Andi's favorite retreats, the Glencairn Museum Cloister in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania.

For further inspiration, I also found the Museum's mission statement, which "invites a diverse audience to engage with religious beliefs and practices, past and present, by exploring art, artifacts, and other cultural expressions of faith. By appealing to our common human endeavor to find meaning and purpose in our lives, we hope to foster empathy and build understanding among people of all beliefs, leading to positive social change through tolerance, compassion, and kindness."

Amen to that.

Here are some of the lovely photos of the Cloister that Andi sent us:








All exude peace, but I was drawn to the last photo above, the one with the two stone chairs facing each other. The more I looked at this image, the more I was overcome with a strong sense of longing because the chairs were empty.

Having no other plan (my usual approach!) I found myself addressing this longing on the page, by imagining the world as if these chairs were not empty... and went on from there. Here is the poem that emerged:




If
another’s knees
were to sit across
from mine,

one of us might
drag a fingertip
along the window ledge

as if we were on
a train; one of us might
remark that the arches

—ah, bright arches—
form a heart; one of us
might know who poured

that concrete step;
one of us might lean
away from the chill

turning flesh to stone;
one of us might say:
sanctuary;

and the other
reply: I hear
the wheels must turn

ten thousand times.
We would talk as rams
and sheep do:

all about the grass
and how it feeds
the wide world.

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)


If you're curious about the Cloister, you can read more here.  And if you need more loveliness in your life, here are six other beautiful poems on "sanctuary, rest, or seeking peace" from each of my Poetry Sisters:

Liz
Andi
Kelly
Laura
Tanita
Tricia

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Poetry Friday: A Terza Rima for the Poetry Seven

The assignment? A terza rima, the interlocking poetic form made famous by Dante's Inferno.

The theme? Gratitude.

For once, I knew instantly how this theme would inform my poem: There was no doubt its subject would be my poetry sisters, without whom I would not have explored poetry's "Here Be Dragons" waters. Without them, I'd still be stuck in my safe, shallow, shoals. (Or perhaps, if Dante were my guide, be marooned in poetry purgatory.) The only trick was putting all that into iambic pentameter in the rhyme scheme of a terza rima:

a
b
a

b
c
b

(repeat as necessary, and end with a couplet, if desired.)


In the end, my poem became a tribute to the poems The Poetry Seven tackled this year. Usually, I try to write to a wider audience, but this one is different. I know I'm a better writer when I write with friends---and I needed to say thank you, loud and clear.


(Links to my sister's Terza Rimas today can be found inside the poem.)


A Terza Rima for the Poetry Seven

Sisters do not let sisters ode alone
Nor do they, solo, rondeau redoublé
If raccontino calls, they hold the phone,

And bellow for some muse-y muscle; they
deep six, by stanza, surly sestinas
and dig a common grave for dross cliché.

Don’t bother asking for their subpoenas
To brashly bait expanding etheree
Nothing stops these pen-slinging tsarinas.

Once snagged, they let no villanelle go free;
Mouthy haiku in operating rooms
are re-lined and re-stitched, repeatedly;

So do not question who wears the pantoums
here; it’s seven sonnet-crowned, brave harpies:
Laura, Kel, Trish, Liz, Andi, T. : nom de plumes

who together with laptops (or Sharpies)
have danced the sedoka and triolet;
and ekprasticated art farandwee.

I’m grateful to wield words with this septet:
Friends, forever. Poetesses, well-met.

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Laura at Writing the World for Kids.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Poetry Friday: Arlequin


Arlequin by by René de Saint-Marceaux
 photographed at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Lyon, France,
by Kelly Ramsdell


Who is that masked man? I thought I knew. I'd seen him before. Replicas of this statue are all over Amazon, ebay, and auction sites. A version even appeared on The Antique Roadshow.

If you get a chance to watch that Roadshow video, it gives some background on the original marble sculpture---which I cannot find images of online-- as well as info about the various bronze and plaster casts (in various sizes) that have been made from it, such as the one Kelly snapped a photo of in Lyon.

What I didn't know was how complicated the history of the Arlequin (Harlequin) character was. For one thing, he began as a dark-faced devil character in French passion plays--yes, sadly, as another portrayal of a black man as a demon. His clothes were a slave's rags and patches before they evolved into a more orderly diamond pattern, and he was part of the tradition of blackface clowning in minstrel theater. I think his half mask may be the last remnant of that.

Much of that history is obscured, however, because the Harlequin also became a popular member of the zanni or comic servant characters in the Italian Commedia dell’Arte. There, his trope became one of a clever servant who thwarts his master...and courts his lady love with wit and panache. We might recognize bits of him today in our modern romantic hero.

So. That's a lot of stuff packed into one stock character. More than I could handle in one poem. In the end, I wrote what I saw reflected back in his eyes --- but I'm curious: how would you describe what YOU see in him?



Arlequin

A stock character 
takes stock of his life:
always tasked

by the master 
always masked
from his true love

always asked
to repeat
the same lines.

—-and yet—
We never master
our taste for sharp

laughter; 
we are unmasked 
by it, we ask

with applause
for Love in tricked
out plaster, cast

marble to actor;
same lines;
new disaster.

       ----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

My poetry sisters all wrote about what they saw in our masked man. Find their poems here:

Tricia
Andi (sitting this one out. See you next time, Andi!)

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Violet, who writes enticingly about Poetry Camp.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Poetry Friday: Cake and Clogyrnach

We got married in August, 1984. The heat it was hot, even for a ceremony at 8 PM. But we didn't melt, and neither did the cake:

Carrot cake, my husband's favorite


I'm sure there was a toast given, too. Which brings me to this month's poetry challenge: the clogyrnach, a traditional Welsh ode with a decreasing syllable count and a simple rhyme scheme:

8 syllables - x x x x x x x a
8 syllables - x x x x x x x a
5 syllables - x x x x b
5 syllables - x x x x b
3 syllables - x x b 
3 syllables - x x a 
(you may combine last two lines into one line)

When I did a light Googling of the form, I learned it's used at weddings and funerals (I haven't confirmed this beyond the Internets, however.) I also gleaned that you may repeat the rhyme scheme for as many stanzas as you like, creating a longer story--or perhaps, an ornate toast to a happy couple. Something sweetly humorous, perhaps dolloped with archaic language---and yet filled with well-wishes. Something a Bard (or Bardess) might compose to earn his/her supper--or a slice of cake.



A Clogyrnach to be recited before Cake

Dearly beloved, gathered here,
witness this cake, built tier by tier:
may layers of sponge
shallacked with mauve gunge
flaws expunge, and endear

bride to bridegroom; bridegroom to bride;
grant stomachs for swallowing pride
and spleens to filter
rivals’ false philter;
Ne’er jilt her—but abide;

ne’er salt his cutting grief, but fold
each into each; thus love raids old
age of bitter rhyme;
cake dissolves in time;
naught left fine; but behold:

Dearly beloved, gathered here,
witness these lives, built tear by tear:
pray layers of sponge
give strength for the plunge;
fear expunge; knots tie dear.

                       ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved, but hey, yeah, sure---I'll let you recite it at a wedding, no charge. Just email me a picture of your cake.)


My Poetry Sisters attempted the clogyrnach, too, both in short and long forms. As usual with this brave crowd, after a tad of griping and floundering, some fine poems stepped onto the page.  Here's a toast to that!
Liz
Tanita
Kelly
Laura
Andi
Tricia

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Penny at Penny and her Jots.