Saturday, April 03, 2021

NPM Spring Cleaning Day 3, First Lines Found Poems

This year for National Poetry Month, I am Spring Cleaning by going through the open tabs I have on my desktop and posting about them so that I can then delete them.


I saved this post by Alan J. Wright back in March, because he suggested something I wanted to try, something he got from Annie Dillard, who said she liked to read the index of first lines from a book of poetry as inspiration for writing. Alan went a step further and wrote found poetry from the index of first lines.

So I did too.

It was a lot of fun to do. None of them 100% make sense, but I feel as though they almost do, if you squint just right. I really enjoyed going back and reading lots of the poems that the first lines belonged to, but I also liked seeing the lines on their own and the way they interacted differently outside of their own poems.

I didn't have many books of poetry that actually had an index of first lines, but I found three that did. The first poem is from Staying Alive: Real Poetry for Unreal Times



Alone on the railroad track
A woman is reading a poem.
He jumped off the box-car
In the middle of the night.
Lives ago, years past generations,
On a day like any other day,
So early it’s still almost dark out,
There is love to begin with.
This is how you live
When the worst thing happens.

The next one comes from The Sonnet: An Anthology, published by Washington Square Press. I've had this anthology for about 35 years, and it's a good one. I can't find it on Amazon, but here's a photo:

I gave myself the rule of picking one line for each letter of the alphabet. There weren't many Js and there was only one K. Here's the result:

A sonnet is a moment’s monument;
Blessed be the day which bids my grief subside.
Come sleep! O sleep, the certain knot of peace,
Deep in the leafy fierceness of the wood,
Earth has not anything to show more fair.
Fair Star of evening, Splendor of the west,
Glory and loveliness have passed away.
Hope, like the hyena, coming to be old,
I hope and fear, I pray and hold my peace,
Judged by my goddess’ doom to endless pain.
Keen, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there.
Like an adventurous seafarer am I.
Much have I traveled in the realms of gold
Now that my seagoing self-possession wavers.

And the third one is from Friendship Poems, a lovely Everyman anthology.

Candid and generous and just
I think awhile of Love, and while I think,
My lovely friends,
Of that short roll of friends writ in my heart,
Such love I cannot analyze.

This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All


Linda B said...

It's a marvelous exercise and really, each poem turned out beautifully as you crafted them, Ruth. I love that last one about friendship - exactly right. Happy Easter!

Carol Varsalona said...

I also love the last one. The opening to the poem on the sonnet is a beautiful line for an intro, Ruth. I hope today was filled with joy of the risen Lord.

Alan j Wright said...

Glad you followed up Ruth and I enjoyed the treasured you unearthed.