04 April 2010

April Poem A Day Challenge Day 4

Happy Easter, I hope everyone had plenty of chocolate bunny ears. Today's prompt from Poetic Asides involved history, which is normally one of my favorite subjects.
"For today's prompt, write a history poem. This could mean a poem about your country's history, the history of an event or a tool, or even your own personal history. Hey, you could even write about the history of a relationship. The history of everything is fair game."
The drawback of a prompt like this is that it is incredibly broad. History of a person, place or thing can encompass a multitude of ideas. I suffered from temporary paralysis as I considered the possibilities. I started with a poem that talked about the relationship of history and time. There's a seed there, but it wasn't ready to sprout into anything coherent yet. I made notes on the idea - what, you don't take notes and do research for poems?? I thought everyone did - and went on to another topic.

My muse, being the PITA he is at times, kept looping Iron and Wine's song History of Lovers through my head. I love the song, find the lyrics fascinating. . . but wasn't sure how it was going to help me to have music on endless replay in my head. My muse went out for coffee and left me, ear worm and all, to figure something out on my own. Smart muse, preserving his skin and my sanity all at once. A little while later, History of Lovers departed of its own accord and my poem tiptoed in in its place.

A History of Tuna.

Honest. That's what it's titled. It's not about fishing, or biology, but rather about lunch and the dangers of grabbing the wrong brown paper bag out of the refrigerator as a kid. Yeah, well, nobody said every poem for this challenge would be Shakespeare.

To get the image of tuna sandwiches out of your head, have a listen to History of Lovers by Iron and Wine. Lyrics after the playbox.

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History Of Lovers
by Iron & Wine

Louise only got from me innocent poetry
Although she played to not listen
But still I can hear myself speak as if no one else
Ever could offer the same

Some say she knowingly tastes like a recipe
Although so foolish and willing
I said Babe I can picture you bend as if wanting to
Bow as the curtain went down

Coddle some men, they’ll remember you bitterly
Fuck ‘em, they’ll come back for more
I asked my Louise would she leave and so cripple me
Then came a knock at the door

“I came for my woman,” he came with a razor blade
Bound like us all for the ocean
I hope that she’s happy I’m blamed for the death of
The man who would take her from me

Some they saw in me innocent poetry
Some, say they’ll never be certain
But still it’s been written, a history of lovers
Given and taken in ink

Coddle some men, they’ll remember you fittingly
Cut ‘em, they’ll come back for more
I asked my Louise would she leave and so cripple me
Then came the knock at the door

Louise came to rescue me; listen, the irony:
Blood made her heart change its beating
I hope that she’s happy I’m blamed for the death of
The man she found better than me


Kathleen Cassen Mickelson said...

Oh! I laughed out loud when I got to the history of tuna bit. You're absolutely right that the prompt was incredibly broad.....as they must be for a PAD challenge, I suppose. Do you think people would respond as well to a narrower prompt? Would it challenge them - or you - in a more useful way?

I had a debate once with a high school kid in one of the workshops I taught who said, in a typically teenaged way, that creativity shouldn't have any rules. This was, of course, as I was laying down rules for an assignment. My argument was that rules - or guidelines, which I prefer - challenge writers to be even more creative as they figure out how to work around those guidelines. More specific prompts might do the same thing.

And now I'm rambling. I'll stop.

Constance Brewer said...

I think narrower prompts are more challenging in a way, like you said. I love haiku because it forces you to discard the unnecessary and get to the essence.

Besides, how can you break the rules if you don't know what they are - or how to work within them?