Hey guys there’s about a week left for you to submit to our Fall/Winter 2016/2017 issue. Submissions close on 25 February. The theme is, The Heart Knows. Knowing is terribly important, is it not? In Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, the prince had met a wild fox who’d asked him to tame it. Once you’ve tamed the fox, he won’t be just a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. He’d have become your friend, the only one of his kind in the world. Same thing with roses, said the fox. “It’s the time that you gave to your rose that makes your rose so important,” he said.
“People have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible for ever for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose…”
That’s why the prince had to die. So that he could return to the only rose on his planet. And thereafter the narrator would always think of his friend, the little prince, when he looked at the stars.
The secret, said the fox, is that “you can only see clearly with your heart. What’s essential is invisible to the eye.”
See if this quote inspires a poem.
Everyone has a life story. What if you had to write a memoir? What would you tell? Would you list down events, expositional style? You know, the “and then” “and then” way of setting things down. Someone had said life has three great events: birth, sex and death. Would those be the hooks from which you’d expound your mini stories? Someone had also asked, what three things would you remember most about a person. Perhaps you’d try and answer that, as if your narrative is really an attempt to paint a character. Character is all. If someone remembers you as kind, curious, and has a sense of humor, would you be happy? I think I would. Your prompt would be to write a familial story.
O guys, we live in a time of doom and gloom, doesn’t it feel like that to you? It’s Christmas time for Christ’s sake! Blame it all on Trump! His assemblage of a cast as preposterous and unfit as he is has put us all in a perilous, unstable spiral. China’s watching. Russia’s watching. The whole world is and no one has any idea what’s gonna happen next except that he’s going to manhandle it all. To not speak up now is to give up on the protection of humanity or something. You betcha, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”–Patti Smith’s choice of song for Dylan’s inauguration as Nobel Laureate is so apt for our time. So do something–write a poem about how perilous it all feels right now, or about giving over to silent despair. Just do not shut the fuck up.
It’s December, folks! I had just completed the PAD Chapbook Challenge. Just short of one poem, which I’ll get to soon enough I guess. When I do such daily poem challenges, the last poem always feels like a hurrah. I’ve done this kind of challenge often enough to feel almost like breezing through the experience. I’m just reporting how it feels like for me now. I’ve also thought often enough about when my last poem will be. When I’ve run out of things to say? But there’re always things enough to say, or to say the same thing in myriad ways. It’s like reinventing yourself almost. If you’ve done this kind of thing, you perhaps share the same feeling as me. If you don’t do this kind of thing then what I’m saying would probably mean not much.
You probably have another kind of schtick. Like dance, for instance. Dance isn’t my schtick since my hamstrings are too tight for doing it well, and my body’s too heavy. But I do it still anyway, for the fun of it. I get joy out of it. The line divides one who does an activity as an amateur and one who does it to practice a kind of professional competence. On this kind of scale then you may think you’re a failure. I don’t think of it as failure. I don’t think of anything as a failure if it’s something you do that makes you happy.
At the end of the day, we’re all in a quest for something. Like Alfred Wallace. He’s a British naturalist who founded the Wallace Line. It’s the line which separates the Indonesian archipelago into two distinct parts: a western portion in which the animals are largely of Asian origin, and an eastern portion where the fauna reflect Australasia. So hopefully your exploratory quest will lead you to create a thing of value, or even things of value. Wallace also came up with the idea of evolution but Darwin kind of robbed him of the glory of his epiphany. Shit happens. So if you’re a practicing poet with no financial reward for your work, think of Wallace who was poor and struggling with no regular income for much of his life.
Onward! 2017, here we come. The prompt? What’s your quest?
It’s time for a new chapter of prompts. I hope they prompted you to write; and failing which, they keep you entertained. Whatever. The
heart muse goes where it wants to go. Whatever you do, don’t forget to submit to Red Wolf Journal.
Prompt 28: Bet you’re not expecting this. The prompt is to revisit the myth of Persephone. Already done so? Do it one more time then. It’s how you regenerate. Geddit?
Prompt 29: What art do you practice? Why do you practice your art?
Prompt 30: In The Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh drew the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an idealized village (Wikipedia). This was after the ear episode. Vincent wrote to his brother Theo, “This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big.” The star was Venus, seen in the spring of 1889. You can see Venus next to the cypress tree in the painting.
Prompt 31: Oh are you having writer’s block? Poor thing. Not me. I’m not. I just wrote a poem at the drop of a hat. Write about writing, will you? Preferably in natural green surroundings. Don’t say I didn’t help.
Prompt 32: I was listening to Bill Murray talk about a painting that came to him during a time when he was down and out in Chicago and having suicidal thoughts. It was this painting. He didn’t know the painter or that it was sunset, not sunrise that the painting depicted. But anyway it spoke to him that a peasant girl with not much prospects could get another day, meaning another stab at happiness. Whatever form that takes. Hope this piece of art inspires you.
Prompt 33: In life, as in art, we do not know where we’re headed. We do not know except that we’re steeped in the process. The end point? It is death. It is rebirth. It is to live with the knowledge that art wins. The prompt is to write about art and its process.