When it comes to poetry its just not enough to read poetry. Poetry is far more visceral than that. To really enjoy poetry you need to eat, drink and breathe poetry and then maybe…just maybe you can capture its true essence. Nobody explains this better than Mark Strand in his Poem, “Eating Poetry”.
I love this poem by Mark Strand for so many reasons, most profound of which is the dark imagery it renders. The first line hooks you right away with its “Ink runs from the corners of my mouth” opening sentence. You cannot help but want to know of this person who is consuming enough poetry that its starting to bleed from his mouth…ink and all. Right from the opening line surreal images just leap out from his words into your mind. Within a few short sentences you are transported into the dimly lit library where the “poems are gone”. You can now see what has scared the librarian enough to cause her to “stamp her feet and weep”. The man has consumed so much poetry that he turns into a dog, a joyful one at that, “I romp with joy in the bookish dark.”. His joy is in sharp contrast to the sad and petrified librarian who does not understand what is going on perhaps because she has not yet enjoyed the taste of poetry.
For your challenge today, I ask you to take your own deepest emotions about poetry and turn them into something surreal. Don’t just rhyme or verse, paint me a picture throbbing with vivid imagery. Hook me in with your best hypnotic metaphors. Still unsure how to start, write a snippet of a story that is so surreal, it leaves one panting for more. Feel free to publish the poem on your blog and pingback to ubecute or just copy and paste your poem with your name and blog details in the comments section. Let the creative juices flow…
By Mark Strand
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.
The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.
Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.
She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.
In case you are curious about what Ubecute has to say about poetry check out this poem written a few years ago.
Poems are beguiling works of art. Good poets will never write that they were sad and cried buckets or were happy and skipped their way to work. For instance take a look at this second stanza (by Algernon Charles Swinburne describing “sorrow”).
“One thought lies close in her heart gnawn thorough
With pain, a weed in a dried-up river,
A rust-red share in an empty furrow.”
He never uses the word sorrow or tears and yet makes you connect with the character in his poem immediately. You can feel her pain and partake in the sleeplessness of the night. Poets rarely talk about things as they are because they use the power of a metaphor to ignite the human imagination and paint a crafty picture of intrigue.
For today’s challenge use a metaphor to describe your true emotions. For this challenge look at your room and take note of any thing that stands out: book shelf, painting, book, cell phone and use a metaphor to describe it. Keep describing it with a metaphor until you think you have painted a perfect picture of the object you are talking about. For e.g. the pen is like an arrow that bleeds its blue blood, or your dirty socks are like dark caves that lead to nowhere. Let nothing stop you, no matter how unbelievable it sounds. You can always take a second or third pass at your poem to make some final much needed edits, but for now let your imagination flow. If you do participate send me your poem with your full name in the comments below or pingback to me using the “Edit/Link icon” in your own post.
To get your creative juices flowing I am sharing a poem by Ted Kooser one of my favorite poets.
I write to make sense of all my jumbled thoughts. I write to make sense of myself. To become a better version of myself. Whenever I am feeling embittered and jaded about life, I know I need to go back to my table and just write. I also write to leave a little of myself behind. Yes, in that respect writing is a very narcissistic desire for me.
But is it not the same reason why the rest of you great people architect skyscrapers, build bridges, write songs, concoct your own perfect curries or raise beautiful children? I have done none of that and therefore I write. I am both narcissistic and insanely hopeful that when I am long gone, someone on the World Wide Web would still care to read my words and feel connected to me. That’s why I write!
Are you a fledgling poet and an extremely “good” one at that but wondering why you are unable to keep the circle of friends you once enjoyed? Do well-meaning friends always have an excuse to avoid your lunch invitation? Are more and more members of your family enacting the Cheshire cat on the dinner table as you roll out your book of poems? Do you constantly hear yourself talking to voicemails or phone lines going dead?
Then it is time to take this quiz. If you have answer “yes” to 3 or more points, chances are you are one of the dreaded poets people love to hate. *Scary music*
You Lie constantly: You have the constant, incurable need to fabricate lofty, soaring descriptions out of every day mundane events. The innocent barbeque at your friend’s backyard becomes a playground for the Greek Gods all complete with Hermes, Zeus and Aphrodite playing tags. Washing your hair resembles the Niagara Falls thundering down your head. Picking the weeds from your handkerchief garden reminds you of the prairies complete with fairies and pixies…Get the drift? Then my friend you suffer from poetic exaggeration. Give yourself a point.
You have no place for the ordinary: The chief protagonists in your poem are in a constant state of euphoria even if all they are doing is passing gas. There is absolutely no such thing as an “ordinary” day. The synonym for boring is ordinary and ordinary does not belong in your poems because poetry is all about life extraordinaire. Correct? Give yourself a point.
You are time blind: Time blindness is a major sickness many amateur poets suffer from. You basically only recognize two time zones: Dusk and Dawn. The sun is in an eternal state rising or setting. Ours must be the busiest planet in the Galaxy, with people constantly racing to either go to bed or wake up! Give yourself a point and underline it.
You suffer from the curious case of adjectivitis. This is a very common and unfortunate disease that most poets and writers suffer from. If you are constantly dishing out adjectives like Santa dishing out toys on 25th of December than you suffer from adjectivitis. It’s Nasty! Do you often catch yourself adding meaningless adjectives such as “bright day”, “dark night”, “hushed whisper”, “tall palm trees”…? Be honest now, you know you have done it…
You are guilty of Necromancy: Are you constantly invoking the Greek Gods to do your dishes, or take the dog for a walk? Some poets think poetry is all about the exotic and the more Greek Gods they invite to their living room and share their cheap $6.00 Chardonnay, the better their poem becomes. No, No, No please let the Gods rest in peace, unless there is a genuine reason to invoke them from their resting heavens! Give yourself a point my friend.
You rhyme on a dime: If you think the idea of creating music in poetry is to rhyme at any cost then my friend you are creating another reason for the rest of the world to hate us. Rhymes make up for great nursery rhymes but don’t rhyme on a dime on somebody else’s time! Give yourself a point.
You are “Killing me softly” with trite sentimentality: If you catch yourself explaining your pain or sorrow with trite words such as “pain”, “sorrow”, “tear drops” and “shattered shards of your heart” then give yourself a point. Good poets stay away from expressing their sentiments in trite language instead they paint a picture. Stop crying “tears of blood” instead give yourself a point, you have earned it!
If you have answered “yes” to at least 3 out of the 7 points then you have committed the Deadly sin of writing boring poetry. You suck as a poet.
But fear not, you are in good company with “yours truly” who has pleaded guilty on all counts. And may the souls of all who died listening to our poetry rest in peace! Amen.
I love movies. But I rarely sit and watch an entire movie in one sitting (never enough time). I often switch the Television on while working in the kitchen or having dinner. Yes, I know it is a bad idea to watch TV while having dinner. But I do it anyways!
So here is my problem. It is really annoying to cozy up to your Television while enjoying a bite only to be thrown into somebody’s bathroom ritual with the camera zooming in on the Toilet!!! I simply don’t get the fascination of modern movies with toilets!
Is it my imagination or are there a lot more Toilet scenes in the movies these days? Most of the time the Toilet scene adds nothing to the story line. I get the Director’s are trying to build a real-life image…or go for the big laughs, but is another boring Toilet scene the only way? Have you considered creating a more ingenious story line and dialog?
Surely, Hollywood can come up with a few other creative ways to keep audiences engaged. And what with all the reality TV shows where are we going to end if this Toilet fascination continues?
Believe me, I am all in favor of healthy bathroom habits, but I think it’s a private deal. So here is a humble plea to the Director’s and the Censorship Boards of the World.
Goa’s 63 mile long coastline offers a long expanse of exotic beaches. The water is always lukewarm and the sand is soft to touch. The beach is studded with tiny sea shells and starfish. I found it best to enjoy the beaches early in the morning at dawn or around sunset because during the day time the heat is almost unbearable.
The beach is studded with shacks offering visitors both North Indian and South Indian cuisine as well as plenty of seafood.
Unless you are staying at one of five star hotels don’t expect to find the shacks to be glamorous. Personally I loved their rustic beauty. I was never disappointed with the food and the amazing scenery for pennies on the dollar.
A local shack
I enjoyed going to the local market with my dad and we bought a variety of fruits like passion fruit, pineapple, kiwi, gooseberries, dragon fruit, raspberries and many more. The Goan soil is so fertile it is a haven for fruit and vegetable lovers. Goa grows bananas (sweet as sugar), papayas, coconuts, cashew, sugarcane, bamboo, rice, Pineapples, chilies, betel nuts and much more. The locals also sell homemade coconut oil. While coconut oil is said to have many therapeutic qualities one does need to be conditioned to its smell. Some people may find the smell to be offensive. I am into all kinds of organic beauty products and found coconut oil to be an excellent hair conditioner. I applied it at night and washed out my hair the next morning so I would not reek of coconut oil during the day. The results were very satisfying 😉
Given below are pictures of Tambdi Surla a 12th century Hindu Temple one of the oldest temples in Goa, India. The temple is situated in thick forest and there are small villages surrounding the temple. When I visited Tambdi Surla last year (2014) I was greeted by a flutter of butterflies at the very entrance of the temple. The sight was absolutely unforgettable. It was so sudden and unexpected that I could not even take a picture. This year I was especially looking out for the butterflies but did not find any. I did catch a quick glimpse at these birds flying away the moment our car approached.
Shown here are pictures of St Michael Church Orlim Goa one of the oldest churches in Goa. I loved the austere beauty and serenity of this church. Every second Sunday of October, the little village of Orlim in South Goa brightens up with festive fervor at the St Michael Church. The village feast brings together a crowd of around 2000 locals who attend the service and pray to their patron saint. This year, October 13 will see the feast of St Michael celebrated with joy.
Varca is one of the most touristy beaches in Southern Goa. But in the morning you can have the beach almost to yourself. If you are lucky, you will be able to catch dolphins playing by the shoreline. There is a row of wooden fishing boats seen on the beach that belong to the Christian fishing community.
Popular beach resorts in Varca include the Radisson White Sands Resort, the Club Mahindra Varca Beach Resort, and Serenity Residency. On the way back there are plenty of small stores where you can shop for clothes, Indian Jewelry, carved furniture, brassware and other souvenir type items if you so choose. Be prepared to bargain. As far as clothes are concerned I found some name stores such as Fab India and Biba to have the best quality products. I enjoyed the Tulsi Chai Masala and sampled some of the beauty products at Fab India (I am a bit of a skin care fanatic and always try out local beauty products everywhere I go!)
Here are some pictures of Miramar Beach, one of the most populous beaches in the capital of Goa: Panjim. This beach is situated at the confluence of Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea. Boat rides offered at very reasonable prices will take you through a pleasant boat ride where you may be able to capture some beautiful coastal scenes as well as water life.
While Goa is beautiful because of its rich history, beautiful beaches, exotic cuisines, lush greenery it is not void of faults. Be prepared to see a lot of trash and waste carelessly discarded by people all over the state. I was surprised to see that the beaches did not even have a single trash can to allow people to discard their waste. I also noticed that visitors carelessly throw their beer bottles on the beach which is a big safety hazard. The government is implementing a much needed “Swach Bharat” (Clean India mission).
The concept of change and evolution has always resonated with me. Life, in its most basic form is nothing but evolution. The ability to adapt with the changing environment and times is therefore key to growth and success. But the vision to rise above one’s humdrum life and envision change for the betterment of humanity truly identifies a liberated and enlightened mind. In my own personal experiences I feel that the journey is far more precious than the destination. To me the awareness to will a change and take conscious efforts to execute the change is more important than being able achieve it.
When Mahatma Gandhi first visualized a happy and a free India independent from the shackles of the British rule he became the agent of change. His vision and the depth of his resolutions ignited the Independence movement of India and united an otherwise divided country which had been left economically shattered by the oppressive rule.
Often the catalyst of change is nothing more than a fleeting will to change. This fleeting will when powered by vision and depth of emotion can become so insurmountable that it can put one of the biggest powers at its knees.
Take John Locke for instance; the English philosopher and physician who influenced the Revolutionary movements in so many countries including America. He had views that were so revolutionary in their times that all through his living years and until his dying will he denied authorship of his own papers. Today the concept of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is not just a phrase (a phrase influenced by John Locke’s theories) in the declaration of Independence but an important Tenet for American socio-economic and political life.
A single powerful thought alone can be the catalyst for change. When like-minded people meet and share their views, thoughts multiply like a nuclear reaction and revolutions are formed. Therefore it is important to fully appreciate the value of thoughts as well as the power of an individual. Never say, “What can I do alone”? Chances are you alone are more than enough to bring about the change most would not dare to dream of.
We are at the very threshold of entering the year 2015. So Congratulations to fellow bloggers for yet another successful year of Blogging! Ubecute completed its first year of blogging and for that it is extremely grateful to all the followers and supporters of Ubecute for the constant feedback and comments.
Writing is a labor of love that I ignored for way too long until I found my way into blogging. Blogging is like carving out windows into thick cement walls and finding smiling people waving back at you. In my experience, I found blogging to be an excellent way to share my ideas as well as get an opportunity to hear what others are passionate about. It is so heart warming to see the talent that people have and to find an avenue to be able to share one’s talent and personal experiences.
Like all New Years, 2015 is also filled with the element of surprise and dreams. For many of us, New year offers an opportunity to evaluate our efforts and successes for the past year and learn from our mistakes. It is a chance to make New Year resolutions in our attempts to building a brighter future. Like many others, I too make New Year resolutions. Starting a blog was one of my resolutions last year, which I successfully accomplished. According to the free report offered by WordPress, Ubecute was visited 14,000 times in 2014 (first year of publishing). Some of the most visited posts of 2014 were:
This year I resolve to write everyday, even if it means writing absolute gibberish. So what if 15 minutes of effort ends up being nothing more than a crumpled piece of paper ball in my trash can? Nobody needs to see a badly written piece, the effort is aimed at practice and self fulfillment. The act of the labor itself should be more fruitful than the rewards, correct? Well in truth I don’t know. But one thing I have learned in my life is that a small task done repeatedly over a period of time becomes a habit. And any habit performed consistently over the years has a cumulative effect; good or bad (depending upon the habit itself).
I therefore welcome you to join me in my endeavors. Let me know if you would like to be a guest blogger on Ubecute or simply resolve to writing more frequently? I welcome well written articles on self help. I enjoy and appreciate personal experiences of triumph over hardship, research articles on how to lead a happier and more fulfilled life and everything beautiful and poetic.
If you prefer feel free to write your own post and simply link to my site for articles of similar interests.
Most of us meander through life without ever really asking this question. We let life lead us where it will. Yet there are a few enlightened individuals amongst us, who not only know what they want but they know that no amount of material wealth and comfort will quench their thirst for knowledge and truth. Such people are in search of truth of the highest order. Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was one such person; an American author, poet, philosopher and an activist. He is best known for his book Walden a reflection on back to the basics ideology which he promoted throughout his life.
Walden Pond is a scenic and peaceful lake in Concord, Massachusetts said to have been formed by retreating glaciers thousands of years ago. Every time, I visit this lake, I revel in the secret hope that I am probably walking the same path, breathing the same air, and feasting my eyes on the same beauty that once made Thoreau fall in love. “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads”, said Thoreau of Walden Pond.
Thoreau needed to concentrate on his writing which is why he decided to embark on a two year and two month experiment at “simple living” near Walden Pond in the summer of 1845. An account which Thoreau records extensively in his book “Walden, Life in the woods”. He believed that truth can be found in literature or in nature. He himself obtained pleasures as much in the ringing of the church bells as in the hooting of the owls or the croaking of the frogs. In his book, Thoreau mentions he took to the woods because he wanted a life away from social obligations and social relationships that “mail (or post office)” represent. I cannot help but wonder what he would say if he were to visit our lives today where a cellphone has almost become a part of human anatomy? Or what would he have to say to us all who happily over dose on social media and the World Wide Web on a daily basis but never find a moment for introspection or self-reflection?
Thoreau persisted in simplifying his life and believed inner peace and contentment cannot be found in material goods. The replica of the wooden cabin where he spared himself the most basic of amenities to sustain human life is testimony to his simple life. Although today his book is considered to be a signature book on the preservationist way of life, in its day it only sold about 2000 copies in five years. Today we know Thoreau as one of the foremost American writers famous for his prose, style and views on nature and politics. His views on politics and especially his philosophy of civil disobedience was said to have influenced and inspired notable figures such as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
In his book Walden, Thoreau mentions, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
He then continues to explain exactly what he truly wanted out of life with these super charged words,
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience.”
I can’t help but feel charged by these powerful words of a man who truly wanted nothing less than the absolute truth and was willing to pay a price for it. What is truly impressive about great human beings like Thoreau is not simply the depth and honesty of their beliefs but the courage and conviction to follow their dreams no matter where it may take them.
Thoreau in his own words said,
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Here is a glimpse of Goa in Monsoons. Thanks to the rains, nature has OD’d (overdosed) on colors. These pictures were shared to me by my sister who recently visited Goa. I thought these pictures suited perfectly for this week’s Photo Challenge.