Sudden desire to write a poem? What an irresistible urge right? Usually I delve into it and it comes out in a couple of minutes. Hence I do not understand how poets labor over it. My poems are spontaneous outpourings. Li Young Lee spent years crafting a poem. He is like the Leonardo da Vinci of poetry, working to master art as a work of perfection. On the other end of the spectrum would be poets who do not put in much labor, preferring to see art as process, who like to work under constraints. As I do. I have literally 15 minutes before I need to be out of the door. So I write a poem. Different poets different strokes. So tell me how you construct yours. And of course, Robert’s day 21 prompt is to either write a construction or deconstruction poem. How very synchronous with my thinking!
Where is the center of your world? Up till yesterday I didn’t know where the center of our city was. It was at the former General Post Office at the Fullerton Building, now the Fullerton Hotel. The building was commissioned in 1919 as a part of the British colony’s centennial celebrations and named after Robert Fullerton, the first Governor of the United Straits Settlements (1826-1830). I don’t think I’ve ever set foot in the building before, strangely, but perhaps not so strange, since from the 1970s to 1995, it was the office of the Inland Revenue after the Post Office vacated it in March 1996. It was acquired and built into the now five-star hotel which opened in 2001. Being part of the hoi polloi, I’d hardly have a reason to go inside. But why am I talking so much about its history? Because I think the memories that go with a building, or with personal or collective history, is what makes life abundant. Oh right, Robert’s day 19 prompt is to write an abundant poem. Am I clever or what? Write away then.
Have you got the feeling that things are happening at speed, but then it feels like a crawl? I suppose it’s like being in an aeroplane. You’ve no idea you’re travelling at speed. It just feels like you’re lumbering. And then you only know when you’ve arrived at a faraway spot from where you had begun. Life is like that isn’t it? So every now and then, you’ve got to pause. Pause. And what better way of pausing then to write a poem? Oh serendipitously I just googled Robert’s Day 16 prompt. It is to write a poem to the world. I just did it…you’re gonna do it too right?
Sometimes don’t you feel life runs you around in circles? And what of your adversaries? What’s their purpose? To run you down? Thereafter you’ll be rippling. It’s best to be awake, watch for the snake in the grass. After all the unbecoming behavior, how do you behave? Why does life set you up with traps? Wait, it is a test. Right. This line from Rae Armantrout’s poem, “Later”, struck:
I speak in splashes.
I have the lonely dream.
I was supposed to write a poem about object relations but that didn’t work out. Cue Robert’s thing poem prompt. I’m sorry I didn’t inspire you.
Hi there everyone, have I been gone, MIA? I’m still alive you know. In fact I went to a poetry masterclass by Rae Armantrout and it was worth every penny as they say. So few really pay attention to language and no literary art pays as much to it as poetry does. So there was this panel discussion which discussed what good poetry does. And the name, Rupi Kaur came up, an instagram poet with 1.8 million followers. And guess what, she doesn’t even write real poetry. I agree with the two poetry doyens, Rae and Simon Armitage. Simon, who’s English and compared to Philip Larkin, writes poetry that’s easily comprehensible whereas Rae’s poetry is so esoteric–you really have to work hard for the meaning. And that’s where the work is. Anyway Simon made the point that one of the good uses of poetry is to write praise. I immediately thought of Mary Oliver. So many poets write from a dissenting point of view (not saying it’s a bad thing at all, not a bad thing in fact). Not Mary Oliver. So when Robert’s Day 6 prompt came up today–to write a praise poem–I thought I should jump right in. I’ve had a good work day so I’m in kind of a mellow mood right now. So praise away, guys.
Robert Brewer’s November challenge is up. I’m not really taking part except in a desultory way. Day 1–new day poem. Day 2–disguise poem. Day 3–triangle poem. I kind of picked up on Day 1 and Day 2’s prompts. As I said my attention is elsewhere but I’ll still write whenever. It’s also full moon. What does that mean for you? Full moon means things coming to a full cycle right? Right. Because that is happening to me. It’s kind of a time of sowing. So be careful what you reap. It’s also like a time of release. I do have a sense of that as well. Keep writing because it’s also a way of keeping your head above water. Pick any of Robert’s prompts.
I’m prone to being moribund, poetically speaking. I’m not lacking in vigor elsewhere. Real life is keeping me busy. So I may not be here as much. I’ll still check in sometimes though. Write a poem to test the waters. What waters? You know, the deep stuff. We’re all kinda light-hearted and casual in real life aren’t we? But inside we’re deep in whatever shit there is. Everyone has shit. Worries? Concerns? Obsessions? You know. You brush up against someone and then you realise what it is. Are we being judgmental here? No. Just being aware that’s all. We’re all here for a reason, right? So the prompt is to write about that reason.
Do you constantly think about death? Is it like a reverse adolescence where you had constantly thought about sex? I know I’d think about the people I’d known who’d been alive and are now dead. That’s totally surreal to me. Yet that’s how it is. I’d remember a snatch of conversation. Like a final contact point with that person. How I’d bumped into her and it’s been like a mini reunion. And then bam, next I heard she had died of breast cancer. And the list grows. Anyway you know what’s the prompt right…death.
There’re still balls up in the air. I’m still here. Juggling them perhaps. That is what I am meant to do? That’s the plan, that wasn’t planned. Of course, I’d asked, is it easier to let them drop bonking a bit then skittering off to nowhere? I guess if there’re balls then you need to do something, decide on a course of action. It’s an instinctual thing. Inaction is also a conscious choice. What does your instinct tell you to do? So the prompt is to write about instinct. What’s another word? Gut.
Do you feel frustrated at story-telling? Especially the kind that ties everything up too neatly? Like Hollywood movies. You know what’s the real deal? The art movies. The jerky way of story-telling, the open-ended way, the tangential way of finishing off stories. The brusque way…where things are all kind of mangled up. Maybe that’s what we should aim for? So the prompt is to write a post-modernist poem. It’s kind of language reflecting on itself, in the style of the language poets. Further reading needed? Read it here.