Welcome to this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup! I was so excited to be hosting this week for many reasons, but not least because I knew immediately what to title this blog post. Phew!
Titles are so important, but they give me so much trouble. Far too often I hem and haw, and then finally choose a title simply to have it done. On rare occasions, a title comes to me immediately, but I can’t stress enough how rare that is. Usually, it’s a difficult process and results in a title that, at best, feels adequate. At worst, the process makes me circle round and round, tear my hair out, agonize loudly and at length, and question my writing skills. It’s an ugly process. Sigh.
A few weeks ago, not long after yet another title tussle, a Poetry Foundation Poem of the Day post popped up in my Inbox. The poem for that day was titled, “Lost in the Milky Way.” That’s a great title, I thought. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I could use the title like a found line. Inspired by that title, I could write a poem, and then I could even compare it to the one the poet wrote. The hard part was not looking at the original poem until mine was written. The wonderful, freeing part was knowing that I already had a title for my poem!
Now, I thought that I was very clever. I’d already written most of this post and had my plan in place. Then, I read Margaret Simon’s PF post two weeks ago. Rats! Apparently, my idea was not as innovative as I had thought! lol She noted that Austin Kleon shares the title-stealing idea in “Steal Like An Artist” and then went on to share a beautiful poem of her own based on a title stolen from a painting. Oh, well. I decided to go with my plan anyway. Maybe I’m stubborn, maybe I’d already invested too much energy, or maybe I just couldn’t face having to create a title!
At any rate, here’s my poem, based on a stolen title:
Lost in the Milky Way
To lose oneself in the Milky Way
first one must find it.
“Is that it?” I asked
that first night, so long ago.
“That smudgy streak?”
“That’s our galaxy!”
Your words tumbled out,
intense and eager.
“Made of millions–no, billions
and solar systems!
It’s a barred spiral of light!”
You spouted facts and figures,
gesturing with one hand
while the other held mine.
My head swirled
with light years and
numbers with zero
Standing beside you now,
gazing into space,
my hand slips into yours.
I ground myself
in this one moment
in space and time,
while you continue to sing
your love song to the universe,
lost in the Milky Way.
Molly Hogan ©2019
Once my poem was written, I was eager to go back to the Poetry Foundation e-mail and check out the original poem with the inspiring title. The first thing that startled me was the poet’s name, which hadn’t been visible in the e-mail title. Linda Hogan! Go figure! (Thanks, Linda, for a great title! )Then, I read her poem.
Lost in the Milky Way
Some of us are like trees that grow with a spiral grain
as if prepared for the path of the spirit’s journey
to the world of all souls.
It is not an easy path.
A dog stands at the opening constellation
past the great helping hand.
….. (click the title to read the whole poem.)
I’ve read this poem over and over again. It’s rich and layered and pretty wonderful. Very different from my poem. Isn’t it fascinating how the same title can lead in totally different directions?
So, if you’re interested in playing along, here are a few recent titles (with links to the original poems) that might be fun to play with–Please note, I haven’t read any of these poems, so I don’t know what you’ll find when you click on the links. I simply found the titles evocative.
Also, next week Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
is hosting the Roundup. She’s thrown out an optional poetry theme of trees. Maybe you can steal a title to go along with that!
Photograph by Charles J Egita Photo
Note: I have just read the terribly sad news that Lee Bennett Hopkins died today. On the home page of his blog, he says: “Give children poetry. It is one of the best gifts you can give them…a gift to last a lifetime.” Thank you so much, Lee, for sharing your poetic gifts with all of us. You will be missed.
Please click below to add your link for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.
Update: I apologize if I’ve been late approving any posts, or have missed approving any, and for not getting around to read and comment on posts. I’ve been unexpectedly caught up in a medical emergency. Thanks for understanding, and I will do the best I can when I can.