Category Archives: blog

Weekly Feature Prompt – Week 8

Write a poem (40 or fewer lines) or a flash fiction story ( < 1000 words) on any theme. see the complete guidelines here.

Send in your entries to theliterarynest@gmail.com with the subject line “Weekly Contest Submission” by Thursday, July 27, 2017 – 7 PM PDT.

The image here is just for inspiration. You are not required to write about it.

Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA

Feature of the Week – 6

Linda Dickman

Scoured by the Wind
For Amelia

We made it. You and I.
Oh, and Fred.
Our wings worse for the wear,
Felled far from our goal.
Rescued from the sauce.
Rescued.
Hope floats.

That little girl looked
Curious. Was it the pants?
The short hair? She looked
From me to her mother, questioning.

But we’re rescued, Electra,
Drawn out of the salt
Into the spray.
Rescued!

Who could have guessed
On this rock solid pier
That we’d end up walking the planks
Into the rising sun.

 

Weekly Feature Prompt – Week 7

Write a poem (40 or fewer lines) or a flash fiction story ( < 1000 words) on any theme. see the complete guidelines here.

Send in your entries to theliterarynest@gmail.com with the subject line “Weekly Contest Submission” by Thursday, July 20, 2017 – 7 PM PDT.

The image here is just for inspiration. You are not required to write about it.

Image by Issei Kato / Reuters

Feature of the Week – 5

Since there was no winner for this week’s feature, I bring to you a public domain poem by H.D. She is considered as an Imagist poet by many. See how deftly she describes the evening as it slowly turns into the night.
Next week, I hope to bring you the feature from the winner of the week 6.

Evening

by H.D. (1886 – 1961)
The light passes
from ridge to ridge,
from flower to flower—
the hepaticas, wide-spread
under the light
grow faint—
the petals reach inward,
the blue tips bend
toward the bluer heart
and the flowers are lost.

The cornel-buds are still white,
but shadows dart
from the cornel-roots—
black creeps from root to root,
each leaf
cuts another leaf on the grass,
shadow seeks shadow,
then both leaf
and leaf-shadow are lost.

Weekly Feature Prompt – Week 5

Write a poem (40 or fewer lines) or a flash fiction story ( < 1000 words) on any theme. see the complete guidelines here.

Send in your entries by Thursday, July 6, 2017 – 7 PM PDT.

The lines here are just for inspiration. You are not required to use the lines.

The shadow I had carried lightly has
Been forced upon me now and heavy since
Bulky since now and since unwieldy as
A corpse the shadow I was born from in
— Shane McCrae (“America Gives Its Blackness Back To Me“)

Feature of the Week – 4

I chose Marsha Owen’s prose poem “Ugly Times” for this week’s feature. A heart-breaking rant. I loved the sounds. The images are vivid and rooted in reality. The juxtaposition of harsh reality and continuity of nature makes this poem effective.

Ugly Times

Hung a new fan on the outside porch today. Blades sliced the humidity, brought flutters of relief, but I coulda’ sworn I heard one whisper, Why bother? He’s just gonna’ start a war, you know, pack his suitcases with green roots of evil, play golf on our graves.

So I sat down with my new friends, squatters who swarm in my head now, drop by uninvited, keep me awake every night. I tried to send them away, but they stay—then sunshine drops its snarky self onto my grass as it has for eons, and just then in the oak tree, birds all lemony and apple-red catch my eye. Audacious, I thought, while warships circle each other somewhere, but I hear mothers still birth babies, brown babies, white babies, less than right babies, destined to be children (let us pray) but the rich bitch says now all must pay to play at school, lunch canceled, so I wonder if I should get a refund on the fan, get a little money, a few dollars maybe, enough for a bottle of filtered water because a child I don’t know drinks poison, or enough to fill your grandma’s prescription, maybe enough to buy a wheel for his chair and then I remember those pussy hats waving from crowds, a sea of pink sails bobbing along almost like they were sewn together and all the feet moved as one river of blood.

I watched the fan circle. I coulda’ sworn I saw a noose hanging there, the oak tree out back blackened against my scorched earth.

Pantoum

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I am creating a series of posts as a handy reference of poetic forms and meter. The Spring 2016 issue of The Literary Nest includes a pantoum, so let us talk about that form.

According to all the sources, the Pantoum is derived from an ancient Malaysian folk poetic form. The most significant feature of this form is the interweaving of lines with certain repetition built in the design. This repetition gives the poem a feel of forward movement without losing the historical context, sort of keeping the memory alive.

A Pantoum contains four-line stanzas with the following rhyme scheme: lines 2 and 4 of the previous stanza are used as lines 1 and 3 of the next. The poem can have an indefinite number of stanzas. In the final stanza, lines three and one from the first stanza are repeated as the second and fourth (final) lines.  A perfect Pantoum contains four four-line stanzas. Let us illustrate the scheme by an example. I use Harmonie du soir by Charles Baudelaire, to avoid the copyright issues. This poem does not circle back to the first line.

Structure Harmonie du soir by Charles Baudelaire
Stanza 1
A
B
C
D
Voici venir les temps où vibrant sur sa tige
Chaque fleur s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir;
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!
Stanza 2
B
E
D
F
Chaque fleur s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir;
Le violon frémit comme un coeur qu’on afflige;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir.
Stanza 3
E
G
F
H
Le violon frémit comme un coeur qu’on afflige,
Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir;
Le soleil s’est noyé dans son sang qui se fige.
Stanza 4
G
C (or I)
H
A (or J)
Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir,
Du passé lumineux recueille tout vestige!
Le soleil s’est noyé dans son sang qui se fige…
Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir!

It is important to remember that the form should not “drive” the poem. If the form begins to restrict the expression of content, the poet can choose to change the form to fit the content. If you are inspired by the form, expect to practice a lot and have patience. I can’t wait to see more submissions of form poetry.

Some well-known Pantoum examples are:

“Something About the Trees” by Linda Pastan
“Parent’s Pantoum” by Carolyn Kizer
“Iva’s Pantoum” by Marilyn Hacker
“Pantoum of the Great Depression” by Donald Justice