This week’s prompt by Colleen Chesebro is to find a spice in my cupboard and write a syllabic poem about it. I chose a spice that I no longer use that has sentimental significance. And for the form, I chose a hard one, the Kerf. The reason I find it hard is that I think pairing syllable counts with rhymes makes it hard for the poem to be sincere and meaningful.
Kerf with Mild Sri Lankan Curry
When I was in grad school,
she was my daughter’s teacher
in the university’s large day care.
She taught my girl each rule,
was the one who could reach her.
We became friends with times and hugs to share.
We loved her native food--
curry that she loved to cook--
so she gave us dried powder at the car--
richest spices, imbued.
Now we can just hug; time took
her memories, leaving only this jar.
You can see why I want to keep the jar of curry powder, although what is left at the bottom is no longer fresh or at its peak. But when I open the jar I remember the old Elaine, vibrant and chattering and smelling of roses and fresh chicken curry.
About the Kerf: it is 12 lines with 4 tercets. Lines of each tercet are syllable counts of 6-7-10. The rhyme pattern is abc, abc, dec, dec per stanza.
This Sunday and Monday is the release of my new poetry chapbook, Our Wolves, based on the Red Riding Hood story.
This Sunday, March 5, is the launch of my new chapbook Our Wolves with its gorgeous cover art by Kiki Suarez.
In light of that event, I wanted to share a little bit about Kiki and her work.
Kiki was born in Germany, but ended up moving to Mexico where she has lived most of her adult life. She is an artist, a writer, and a psychotherapist. Check out her website, Kikimundo which shares her work, about her company, and a little bit about who she is. I first met Kiki online when we were both writing articles for a site called Cowbird. In a way, writing for Cowbird was like blog writing before I had a blog. Like WordPress, the international community that developed from our shared projects was wonderful, and many of us still stay in contact with each other online.
Here is some more stunning art from the same collection as the one I chose for Our Wolves.
On Facebook, Kiki writes long posts that tell stories about her life. And I noticed on her website that she has blog posts, which I did not realize until now. Here is a wonderful one about her father. Remember that these are written in Spanish, but Google translated for me. I hope it will for you, too.
Now I said that Kiki is a psychotherapist. Here she is in a space devoted to healing people. She says that she combines elements of Rogerian and Gestalt therapy, as well as many elements of Buddhist philosophy.
I owe a big thank you to Kiki for her gorgeous art for my chapbook, as well as making my life more enjoyable in general. I love to read her stories characterized by her big heart and to see the vibrant art she shares online.
I love that Colleen wrote: “REMEMBER… don’t just describe the woman… we can all see her. Like all of us, this woman has a story. Write THAT poem….” I have been working on my ekphrastic poems, as well as syllabic, so this was a fun exercise. I chose to write a Reverse Cinquain. And, I’m sorry if this seems like a strange response, but all I could think about once I put myself into the woman herself is how uncomfortable I feel wearing this outfit. Then, my second thought was, but I sure feel beautiful (and I can’t wait to unhook my bra and the spanx and take off my shoes, etc.).
I maybe have shared when my poem “Waterland” was first published by Open: Journal of Arts and Letters. Then it became part of my new full-length collection Rooted and Winged. Today I’m really tickled that editor Christine Klocek-Lim has published it in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.She expresses her thoughts about the poem at the end. I’m grateful for her enthusiasm for the poem.
This week’s prompt is to use synonyms for change and growth in a syllabic form. I decided to write a haibun because it’s a form I feel comfortable with. I like the expansive quality of the haibun. It’s a prose poem, followed by a haiku that sort of furthers the poem or comments upon what comes before. I prefer the prose portion to be aligned on both left and right sides, forming a box, but I don’t know how to do that on WordPress.
My inspiration was the hummingbird mother I reported on years ago on this blog and then two years ago it happened again that a hummingbird mother helped her more immature baby.
How to Mother
She builds an elastic nest of spiderwebs and leaves, twigs and lichen, so small and round it fits in a child’s palm. Then she lays two white eggs, the size of cannellini. All month she warms them with her tiny body and only whirs away to feed on nectar and then whir back again. When the babies burst through the shells in all their wet messy glory, she begins the rapid rhythmic constant search for food for their always open mouths. After the first one leaves the nest, she spends all afternoon with the other demonstrating how to fly. The metamorphosis from nesting to new flight is complete.
The mother directs life’s forward move, inspiring her babies to thrive.
Have you tried writing syllabic poetry for the #TankaTuesday prompt? If not, give it a try!
Yesterday I posted about asking the new Microsoft ChatGPT to write a blog post about art journaling. I felt a little sad that it could produce a decent freshman essay. But then Amy at https://brotmanblog.com/2023/01/10/time-for-a-break-2/ challenged me to ask it to write a poem. So I decided to have it write poems in the styles of different poets. I asked for a poem about a cat in the styles of Rupi Kaur (who writes simple little ditties that are very popular on Instagram), Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, and Luanne Castle (haha). [You see that haha right there? ChatGPT would never do that!]
I am going to post screen shots of the results, although I don’t expect you to actually read them all. But skimming them might be eye-opening as to how AI works.
First here’s Rupi Kaur.
If you know what Rupi Kaur verse looks like you know this doesn’t look like her writing. But there are hints that AI is trying to make this a Rupi poem: “that there is beauty / in simplicity,” for instance.
Now let’s see a Plath version.
Wow, the poem LOOKS the same, but the language is different. It’s dark and sad and somewhat angry. It doesn’t always make sense: “A hunter who leaves nothing dead.” What the heck does that mean? Again, there is no attempt to mimic the form of the poet’s work, but AI seems to have grabbed phrases from the internet and made its own mishmash with a thesaurus.
Here is in my style:
This is quite a change from the Plath. I would say it has a more inspirational tone to it. And some of the language makes me think that AI picked up on my blog posts maybe more than my poetry.
Finally, here is “I Sing Myself” Whitman.
There you go: Whitman’s poem really does sound like an ode to the cat. But same form. All the rhyming, including off rhymes.
Poetry, as we know, tends to be complex, using many poetic techniques, creating multiple “threads.” Poetry can also contain imagery and ideas that are quite idiosyncratic or personal, but rise to a new level in the poem itself. This analysis, if you can call it that, does show me more about how AI works. No way can AI do what poets do.
I thought I would share with you about the practice of art journaling. But first, here is a little water journal I made about three weeks ago. It’s made up of scraps of junk that are colored on a bit and then soaked in water. I love this little thing and keep flipping through it.
Please be patient. Ultimately this post is not really about art journaling.
Art journaling is a creative and expressive way to combine art and writing in one space. It’s a personal and flexible form of self-expression that allows you to explore your thoughts and emotions through visual and written means.
Art journaling can take many forms, from drawing and painting to collage and mixed media. You can use any materials that you have on hand, such as paints, markers, pens, scrapbook paper, and magazine clippings. There’s no right or wrong way to create an art journal, which is what makes it such a liberating and therapeutic practice.
One of the main benefits of art journaling is that it can help you process your feelings and thoughts in a non-linear and non-verbal way. You can use colors, shapes, and images to convey emotions that may be difficult to express in words. Art journaling can also help you identify patterns and themes in your life, which can lead to greater self-awareness and personal growth.
Art journaling can also be a form of mindfulness practice. When you’re creating art, you’re focused on the present moment and the act of creating. This can help you reduce stress and anxiety and improve your mood.
Mindfulness is so important to me. And I get that through art journaling. I also get it through blogging. But I might be out of a “job.” The above section was written by Microsoft’s ChatGPT!!! I asked it to “write a blog post about art journaling.” Here is the rest of the “post.”
To get started with art journaling, all you need is a blank notebook or sketchbook and some basic art supplies. You can start by making simple marks and lines, or you can jump right into more complex drawings and paintings. There are no rules, so let your creativity guide you.
Some people like to set a specific intention or theme for their art journaling, while others prefer to let their intuition guide them. You can also use prompts or exercises to get your creative juices flowing. For example, you might try drawing your current mood or creating a collage of images that represent your goals and aspirations.
Art journaling is a personal and intimate practice, so it’s important to create a space that feels safe and comfortable. You might choose to journal in a quiet space or with music playing in the background. Some people find it helpful to set aside a specific time each day or week for art journaling.
In conclusion, art journaling is a powerful and accessible tool for self-expression, self-awareness, and personal growth. It allows you to combine art and writing in a way that feels unique and authentic to you. Whether you’re an experienced artist or a complete beginner, art journaling is a creative outlet that can help you connect with your inner self and express your thoughts and feelings in a meaningful way.
I couldn’t have written more cohesively and comprehensively myself, although I would probably have shared photos and added personal comments.
The next way I engaged with ChatGPT was to ask it to “buy my books available on Amazon.” It responded that it doesn’t have the ability to purchase products on Amazon or any platform. Then it went on to give me advice on how to promote my books through Amazon.
So what do you think? New best friend or Trojan horse enemy? Personally I think we are DOOMED. Upper Case for emphasis. I bet ChatGPT can’t make that choice!
I’m thrilled to have my poem,”Inside the House We Lived In When Dad Went Broke,” published as part of the Poem-A-Week project at the Sims Library of Poetry.
Sims Library of Poetry is a fabulous resource for inner city Los Angeles. This is a description from their website: “We are the first black-owned poetry library in the state of California. We aim to engage with the South L.A. community by offering a space to read, write, study, perform, and appreciate poetry.”