7:55 a.m. — Atlanta
listening to Ludovico Einaudi’s Beautiful Night
Hello, all. We are going to work with an adaptation of a prompt by Gray Jacobik, from Diane Lockward’s book, The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop (of course I own it — you know how I like this kind of book). We have written counterpoint poems before, where the points stand in opposition to each other. This exercise asks us to pair opposites, to have them run through our poems woven, one to the other.
Jacobik tells us that Yeats believed these opposites, or contraries, are what moves history forward, as well as good poems, making sure a noble act was paired with a despicable one, day with night, interior with exterior, the sacred with the profane, the objective with the subjective, and so on. Yin and yang.
She suggests that we consider having opposite moods within a poem, shifts to the opposite pole on the emotional spectrum.
A shift in diction toward words that carry opposite connotations is an area that might be great fun (this is where I tinker for hours). If your words have connotations of lightness of being, ground them with words that carry the opposite feeling. A subtler contrary within diction choices is sound. If your words are light, be sure the words that oppose them are heavy in feel and sound.
Give us imagery (any and all of the senses) that allows us to see the threads working with and against each other to move the poem forward.
If you are in a hurry, pick more obvious pairings such as seasons, time, place, or personality traits. Otherwise, look at the ones Jacobik mentions above, when discussing a Yeats’ poem.
Topic? Ah, well. The whole wide world, or something small and intimate, is yours. Lockward gives us, ‘In Answer to Amy’s Question What’s a Pickerel,’ by Stanley Plumly, and ‘Anatomy Lesson,’ by Lisken Van Pelt Dus. A fish and matters of the heart are the examples she chose for us. I could not find the text to Van Pelt Dus’ poem so have found another by her that has intriguing, more subtle contraries, ‘Virginia’s Walking Stick‘. Read them if you aren’t sure where you are going. As you go through, find the contraries, remembering that some contraries are stylistic. Otherwise, read them afterwards.
Give this a try. While it’s not an easy exercise, it is a satisfying one and a good stretch. Don’t worry about the contraries so much for your initial draft. Be aware and when you go back in, you can strengthen the threads. I look forward to what you come up with. If it’s a struggle and you have initial work you don’t want to post on your blog, post it in the comments so we can see what you were aiming for.
I will see you Thursday for links; Friday for the week’s roundup of prompts; and Tuesday for our image prompt.
Happy writing, all.
P.S. The italics are Gray Jacobi’s words. Any bolding is mine.