NPM 2016 - FPR Prompts - April 6th

on April 10, 2016 with 0 comments » |

A response to Noah Eli Gordon's Prompt #5 at Found Poetry Review:
Write a sonnet in the modern key: 
Line 1: narrate action, include at least two nouns
Line 2: ask a question without using “I”
Line 3: make a statement without saying “I”
Line 4: now say “I” in another statement
Line 5: use a fragment
Line 6: narrate another action, include one of the nouns from line 1
Line 7: ask a question using “I”
Line 8: use a fragment that
Line 9: spills into the next line
Line 10: now say “I” and include the other noun from line 1
Line 11: answer your first question
Line 12: make a statement that is in total opposition to line 3
Line 13: combine phrases from lines 5 and 8 here
Line 14: answer your second question
This poem could be improved upon but as a first quick attempt, possibly to be reworked on later, here's a start.

"His flirtation with disgrace was only that, not a ruinous infacuation." - Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel, by John Updike
Licks of Love
by Sanjeev Naik
I wake up from dreams, the taste of memories on my tongue
Have you been remembering me?
I left before you woke up
but I never really left.
For now,
I slip into our memories, languidly amorous.
Will I always forget love this way?
Fragments of
our dreams recur each night
I grasp for words, which slip from my tongue
- you must remember me at least once a year.
You left before I woke from my dreams
For now, fragments of
my loves linger, all the ones I never forget.

Reworking it little bit - i.e. treating the instructions in the prompt as a starting point but then reworking it to free it off the line constraints that a strict following of the rules traps the poem into.

Licks of Love
by Sanjeev Naik
I wake up from dreams, the taste of memories
on my tongue; have you been remembering me?
I left before you woke up
but I never really left.
For now, I slip in and out of
our memories, languidly amorous.
Will I always forget love this way?

Fragments of our dreams recur
each night I grasp for words, each night
they slip from my tongue - you must
remember me at least once each night.
You left before I woke from my dreams
For now, fragments of my loves linger,
All the ones I never forget.

NPM 2016 - FPR Prompts - April 7th

on April 9, 2016 with 0 comments » |

I haven't been able to keep up with the Found Review page's prompts to write a poem every day but here is my attempt at writing something based on Simone Muench's prompt on April 7th to write a cento.
The prompt: Write a cento that is a self-portrait, or anthology of your life, utilizing lines and fragments from your own work.
I had never heard of a cento before but seems like a simple idea and Muench provides "basic stipulations" for writing a traditional cento.
A cento is a poem made entirely of lines from other poems. The name comes from the Latin word meaning a cloak made out of patches. The cento differs from found poetry in that every line is taken from another poem, instead of just any borrowed material.

I dont write too often but took 10 lines from 10 (half-baked) poems written in the 2010-2016 period and randomly chose a line I liked while reading the poem -- with no thought or relation or theme in mind i.e. no influence of history or memory in picking the lines) -- and once I had the ten lines in 1 place, I've paired them together as I see fit.

I only  changed a few minor things (guiding to guided, advising to advise , *him to a me, changed one line break,)... that's all
Lucian Freud - Reflection (Self-Portrait)
by Sanjeev Naik

I took a wrong turn and came here
our failures guided me further

The weight of words
advise me to go seek my calm in Brazil

Colors blend into white
a continuum of listless reassurances.

No ink stains my fingers, I now only know
an unknown darkness

If it is the trees that have gone languid
a darkness envelopes me. I wake up...

NPM 2016 - FPR Prompts - April 3rd

on April 3, 2016 with 0 comments » |

FPR's prompt for April 3rd stumped me initially but then I thought of playing with a long word that rather amuses me. :-)

Not sure what Nico Vassilakis who came up with the prompt had in mind but this is my contribution; took just a few minutes to come up with once I thought of the word and what to do with it; so didn't stare at it too long in trying to "discorporate" the word!

NPM 2016 - FPR Prompts - April 2nd

on April 2, 2016 with 0 comments » |

Found Poetry Review Prompt for April 2nd: To use bureaucrat/found language and rework with language from another poem or one of your own abandoned projects.

Not sure I did this right - have to take some liberties because a pure noun-for-noun replacement isn't perfect. So, adding a few  words (very few) here and there and omitting a few parts of the sentence was fine, I thought. Also took the title and last line from Whitman's poem instead of the source text.

Source text:


And after re-working with nouns from Whitman's Song of Myself, Section 45. (I love Whitman's open-hearted spirit and wish there was more of it in the US today; especially in today's ugly rhetoric from Trump, Cruz, and others.)
Stamp featuring Walt Whitman - USA 1950s

Anyways, here's the poem:
“My rendezvous is appointed”
by Sanjeev Naik

Now was seen the maddest span of youth
explaining this imaginary manhood
- instead of saying, 'Oh, you foolish and benighted lovers’,
you mistake the lips; there are no colored skin
 like yourselves in these black streets and public halls.


A widely different and subordinate night;
natures and wants so different
that you can never amalgamate
or mix your rivers. 


Design them for a different moment of my life,
to change which, or to attempt to change which, must,
in the handfuls out of their hearts, ruin us all.

Age and dying days have assented to this
condition of the dark hush in the abstract, forsooth!


A thousandth scuttle of the night, expended by the cipher
edge to propagate their sun, rendering wheels impossible;
but Alas!

The ablest partners, soundest circuit,
and the greatest specks the world ever saw.


Worlds seem to have but little surfaces,
of the leagues  of limitless space which governs
and must govern in our limitless times.

"My rendezvous is appointed."

Note: the poem has erased any evidence of the racism in the source text. That was my point. Collier Nogues talked about the poetry of erasure. I liked that idea. I've erased all tones of racist vile stuff in the source text by Whitmanizing the poem. (Again, there isn't too much obviously from Whitman either - so it doesnt remind the reader obviously of his work or ethos but the nouns I introduced did come from his Song of Myself, Section 45.

 I'll share some posts this month in response to Found Poetry Review's prompts every day.
Here's the first attempt on April 1st - in response to Patrick Williams' prompt.
Disclaimer: It was late on Friday evening - after work and dinner - when I hurriedly tried it and so am sure if I gave it enough time, I could do better.... but I gave up half-way through trying something meaningful with the first prompt. I was a bit mentally tired but also piqued by the rather unseemly title it was forcing on me. In fact, I've gone ahead today (April 2nd). when I revised the half-baked attempt from yesterday, and changed the title from the suggested one since it ruins the poem. 

Anyways, it isn't like this is for publication or a serious attempt - all just an attempt to have some discipline to write something (anything!) every day (which is something - given that I rarely have the discipline to write) and an experiment to have some fun. So, while I should keep it to myself, I'm going to start sharing my half-baked attempts at Found Poetry at this blog.
Rewrite a sentence or phrase from these two pages to make it about Security guards and use it to begin a poem entitled "Colorado--Social life and customs--19th century."

[1] Proceedings of the annual meeting of the International Association
of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions v. 6 (1919) | from the HathiTrust Digital Library

I chose this sentence: "While there have been increases both in the percentage of wages paid as compensation and in the maximum amount that can be paid as compensation, the increased cost of living and the general rise in wages during the past few years leave the workman to-day in no better, if as good, a position as he was in under the apparently smaller compensation of the earlier acts."
by Sanjeev Naik

Recompense me this cost of living;
Standing guard here, my cost of living

In position
all day, in no better shape
than the past few years,
and leaving me with a lower wage
and the goodness of my
earlier acts.


I did try a 2nd prompt (because it is just a click on his prompt-engine)... and it told me to start a poem titled Boxing.. making use of twenty-two words from these two pages [1]. I think could have made something of this and I've downloaded the 2-pages it offered to do this but haven't given it a try.

[1] The Stamp herald; a monthly journal published in ... v. 4-6 (Sept. 1918-Aug. 1921).


Image above: Street Art by Banksy. Given his ethos, I don't think he'd mind me using it here as I don't intend to use this for any commercial gains.

I heard of Tracy K. Smith some years ago when she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her book, Life on Mars. (Per her Poetry Foundation bio and bio, she was born in Massachusetts in 1972 and got her BA from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.)

An excerpt from one of her poems as today's poem. 

    My God, It's Full of Stars
    by Tracy K. Smith


    We like to think of it as parallel to what we know,
    Only bigger. One man against the authorities.
    Or one man against a city of zombies. One man
    Who is not, in fact, a man, sent to understand
    The caravan of men now chasing him like red ants
    Let loose down the pants of America. Man on the run.
    Man with a ship to catch, a payload to drop,
    This message going out to all of space. . . . Though
    Maybe it’s more like life below the sea: silent,
    Buoyant, bizarrely benign. Relics
    Of an outmoded design. Some like to imagine
    A cosmic mother watching through a spray of stars,
    Mouthing yes, yes as we toddle toward the light,
    Biting her lip if we teeter at some ledge. Longing
    To sweep us to her breast, she hopes for the best
    While the father storms through adjacent rooms
    Ranting with the force of Kingdom Come,
    Not caring anymore what might snap us in its jaw.
    Sometimes,  what I see is a library in a rural community.
    All the tall shelves in the big open room. And the pencils
    In a cup at Circulation, gnawed on by the entire population.
    The books have lived here all along, belonging
    For weeks at a time to one or another in the brief sequence
    Of family names, speaking (at night mostly) to a face,
    A pair of eyes. The most remarkable lies.

The full poem can be read here.
P.S. Coincidentally, just found that she is in the New York Times today in one of their cooking related features - Close at Hand, which "celebrates the objects, practical or precious, that cooks find indispensable."

Deborah Paredez is an American poet, scholar, and Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. [wiki].

Here's one of her poems for today.. you can hear her read the poem at the link.

Wife’s Disaster Manual
by Deborah Paredez

When the forsaken city starts to burn,
after the men and children have fled,
stand still, silent as prey, and slowly turn

back. Behold the curse. Stay and mourn
the collapsing doorways, the unbroken bread
in the forsaken city starting to burn.

Don’t flinch. Don’t join in.
Resist the righteous scurry and instead
stand still, silent as prey. Slowly turn

your thoughts away from escape: the iron
gates unlatched, the responsibilities shed.
When the forsaken city starts to burn,

surrender to your calling, show concern
for those who remain. Come to a dead
standstill. Silent as prey, slowly turn

into something essential. Learn
the names of the fallen. Refuse to run ahead
when the forsaken city starts to burn.
Stand still and silent. Pray. Return.

Today's poem is by Sherwin Bitsui, who was born in 1975 and is ..

"from the Navajo Reservation in White Cone, Arizona. He received an AFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts Creative Writing Program and is the author of the poetry collections Shapeshift (2003) and Flood Song (2009). Steeped in Native American culture, mythology, and history, Bitsui’s poems reveal the tensions in the intersection of Native American and contemporary urban culture. His poems are imagistic, surreal, and rich with details of the landscape of the Southwest. Flood Song is a book-length lyric sequence that explores the traditions of Native American writing through postmodern fragment and stream of consciousness."

And here's one of his poems for today, via Poetry Foundation

by Sherwin Bitsui

When we river,
blood fills cracks in bullet shells,
oars become fingers scratching windows into dawn,
and faces are stirred from mounds of mica.

I notice the back isn’t as smooth anymore,
      the river crests at the moment of blinking;
its blood vessels stiffen and spear the drenched coat of flies
collecting outside the jaw.

Night slows here,
      the first breath held back,
clenched like a tight fist in the arroyo under shattered glass.
But we still want to shake the oxygen loose from flypaper,
hack its veins,
divert its course,
      and reveal its broken back,

the illusion of a broken back.  

... from Shapeshift. Copyright © 2003 by Sherwin Bitsui (University of Arizona Press). 

Jon Pineda (born 1971) is a poet, memoirist, and novelist, who earned his BA from James Madison University and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte and is a member of the creative writing faculty at the University of Mary Washington [wikipedia].

And here's a poem by Jon for today...

Cinque Terre
by Jon Pineda

Between the train's long slide and the sun
ricocheting off the sea, anyone
would have fallen silent in those words,
the language of age in her face, the birds
cawing over the broken earth, gathering near its stones
and chapel doors. In the marina, the sea and its bones
have grown smaller. Though the tide is out,
it is not the tide nor the feathers nor the cat
that jumps into the street, the dust
lifting with each wing and disappearing. The rust-
colored sheets that wrap the sails of ships,
I don't know their name nor the way to say lips
of water in Italian and mean this:  an old woman
stood by the tracks until his hand stopped waving.

from The Translator’s Diary. Copyright © 2008 by Jon Pineda.

via Poetry Foundation.


For April 3rd, a poem from Kevin Young, who has received many accolades and been much in the news (to the extents poets are in the news!) as a young upcoming poet... but first a short bio, this excerpt via wikipedia:

Kevin Young (born November 8, 1970) is an American poet and teacher of poetry. Young graduated from Harvard College in 1992, held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University (1992–94), and received his Master of Fine Arts from Brown University. While in Boston and Providence, he was part of the African-American poetry group, the Dark Room Collective. He is heavily influenced by the poets Langston Hughes, John Berryman, and Emily Dickinson and by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

And now to one of his poems..

by Kevin Young

Wake to find everything black
what was white, all the vice
versa—white maids on TV, black

sitcoms that star white dwarfs
cute as pearl buttons. Black Presidents,
Black Houses. White horse

candidates. All bleach burns
clothes black. Drive roads
white as you are, white songs

on the radio stolen by black bands
like secret pancake recipes, white back-up
singers, ball-players & boxers all

white as tar. Feathers on chickens
dark as everything, boiling in the pot
that called the kettle honky. Even

whites of the eye turn dark, pupils
clear & changing as a cat's.
Is this what we've wanted

& waited for? to see snow
covering everything black
as Christmas, dark pages written

white upon? All our eclipses bright,
dark stars shooting across pale
sky, glowing like ash in fire, shower

every skin. Only money keeps
green, still grows & burns like grass
under dark daylight.

from To Repel Ghosts: The Remix. Copyright © 2005 by Kevin Young, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.  Reprinted by permission of Steerforth Press


I'll leave you with a more recent link from 2014 to an interview with Kevin Young with Terry Gross where he talks about blues, poetry, and 'laughing to keep from crying.'