In Search of Optimism

It’s been a delight to have more time to write this week during Winter Break. I especially enjoyed taking up an Ethical ELA challenge to revisit sonnet-writing. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy writing sonnets. They’re a lovely brain puzzle to occupy me on icy winter days when going outside seems to risk life and limb.

In Search of Optimism

Outside the window, winter still holds sway
new fallen snow conceals the grass below
Too early, dark invades the cold midday
’tis only drifts and icicles that grow.

First snow that fell enchanting, soft, serene
has mutilated to an icy scrum
We yearn for something tender, soft, and green
these endless days of winter leave us numb.

But is it just a passing trick of light
or is the finch more golden by the day?
And look! The sun climbs higher, warm and bright
and sends the ice retreating on the bay.

The warbling call of finches on the wing
ignites a feathered hope for coming spring.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Ruth at her blog, There is no such thing as a God-forsaken Town. Her beautiful photos and poems often feature tropical birds and flowers and always provide welcome light during the dark days of winter.

A Gift from Robert Frost

The Ethical ELA prompts are a gift each month. Even when my time to participate is limited, I look forward to each prompt, and spend time noodling about with them in my notebooks. They always get me thinking in new ways and sometimes lead me to surprising discoveries.

This month’s prompt from Jennifer Guyor-Jowett was “Create a poem of titles from a poet, whose words are a gift to you (much like book spine poetry). Feel free to pretty the titles up with as many of your own words as you’d like or add words sparingly. “

I have been spending some time with Robert Frost lately, so I celebrated the gifts of his words in my poem.

The Aim Was Song*

Long After
The Last Mowing,
I wander through
A Dust of Snow,
regretting attention not paid
during Blue-Butterfly Days
and to The Cow in Apple Time.

The Rose Family
has long moved on and
The Fireflies in the Garden
long ago flickered
one last time
then departed.

Did you notice?
Did you hear
The Last Word of a Bluebird
before it took flight
into Fragmentary Blue
with Love and a Question
for us all:
Why do we save
Our Singing Strength?

Look! See!
Find The Courage to Be New!
A Late Walk
is better than none.
Add your voice
to the chorus.
Let it pour forth
vulnerable and beautiful
like The Exposed Nest.
For ultimately,
always,
The Aim Was Song.

©Molly Hogan

(*Title Poetry From Robert Frost)

Michelle Kogan, poet, artist, and activist, is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog. Be sure to stop by!

Ethical ELA Prompt Responses

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Last month I experimented in my notebook with a couple of  Ethical ELA prompts.  The first was from Margaret Simon who, within her prompt, asked “Are you a marcher or a leaper?” I didn’t manage to meet all the guidelines of the prompt (like the use an echo line), but enjoyed playing around with some of my favorite words.

No Clear Destination

I’m neither a marcher
nor a leaper,
rather a rambler,
a perambulator,
one who coddiwomples
or stravaigs,
meandering along,
no clear destination in sight,
the journey the reward.

©Molly Hogan

Another Ethical ELA prompt last month came from Melanie Crowder. She suggested identifying your emotional state then brainstorming things in the physical world that are illustrative of it. She encouraged writers to look beyond the obvious and then write a poem that reveals one’s emotional state through a description of that chosen object.  I did initially have an emotional state in mind, but I think the poem wandered a bit.

Mica

Beneath earth’s surface,
silted and soiled,
layers of mica rest.
Light, soft, flexible,
it cleaves
into glittering sheets,
transparent to opaque,
reflective and insulating,
resistant to heat.
Mica shields
and reveals.

Above ground,
when struck
by the whirring blades
of a mower,
mica shatters,
exploding briefly
into a dazzling constellation
of shimmering slivers
of light.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is  hosted by the ever-ready-for-a-challenge Linda Mitchell. She’s written an “In One Word” poem, a form newly created by April Halprin Wayland. Check out her post for an explanation of the form and a powerful original poem.

 

 

SOLC Day 18: Drafty Days

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 18
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Every day feels like a draft right now. Unformed, unfinished, needing revision. It’s similar to a free write where you dive in, try to make sense of things, and have no idea where you might be headed.

Sort of like this, though maybe not as creepy. Maybe.

I’m trying to go with “draft-y” as my self-talk descriptor of choice, rather than “overwhelming” or “frightening” and other similar words. As I said to someone the other day, “I’ve decided I don’t really enjoy this living history thing.” I’m someone who takes comfort in the status quo and works to challenge myself from a base of normalcy. That’s tough these days. (Well, the challenging part isn’t so much, but the base of normalcy is!) It occurred to me this morning, that as a writer, maybe I can do “draft-y,” recognizing that I can actually shape some of that drafting process–like choosing an entry point and focus points along the way.

Today I opted to begin the day by trying two new creative ventures. The first of these is the monthly five day writing challenge from Ethical ELA. Today was the fifth day, and was entitled, “Haiku, Photography and Japanese Word Characters.” Here was the challenge from Jennifer Goyer-Jowett:
Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 7.32.42 AM.pngIntriguing! I immediately began looking up Japanese word characters. After a while, I came across the character for “warrior.” It reminded me a bit of a somewhat blurry action picture I recently took of two eagles. It’s not perfect (I think some of the angles are reversed), but if you squint, it sort of works.

Image result for japanese word images hope

 

Warriors

tumbling eagles
one victor emerges
primal food fight

 

 

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Next I stumbled on a link to a Mo Willems video. Apparently, he’s offering daily lunchtime doodling/drawing sessions. As a huge Piggy and Gerald fan, I decided to watch the first one. The visual is clean and uncluttered, and his voice is slow-paced and calm. He’s also quietly silly, which is quite welcome right now. Immediately, I felt myself unwinding. I think that 20 minutes a day with Mo might be my new form of meditation.(Ok…I confess–I don’t actually have a current form of meditation. But you know what I mean.)

Mo suggested beginning by doodling together. I love how he described doodling as “sort of having fun and exploring, with a pen or a pencil, a different way to make a line.” He opted for a general theme of “creatures with a lot of legs.” I grabbed my markers and a piece of paper, and drew alongside him. You can compare our drawings and instantly see why he makes the big bucks. (I really wanted to redraw the head on mine (it makes me cringe!), but I am trying to stick to the draft-y playful spirit of things.)

 

Both of these ventures helped me shift my focus from the unsettling world around me to a more positive, productive place. Neither of them is polished and perfect, but I’m feeling okay with their “draft-y” vibe.

What sort of draft-y things are you creating today?