Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Petrarch, Anyone?

My wonderful writer friend Lisa Rowe Fraustino has more ideas for writing-related fun in a week than most people do in a year. She has formed a small group of writers who are taking on the challenge of the Poetry Project sponsored by Tupelo Press: to write five poems each using as its title or first line one of the following lines from Petrarch:

1. And I saw weeping those two lovely lights that have a thousand times provoked the sun to envy. (Petrarch 156)
2. I swim a sea that has no shore or bottom. (Petrarch 212)
3. Once I accused myself, now I excuse, in fact I rate myself quite highly now. (Petrarch 296)
4. This is the final day of years of sweetness. (Petrarch 314)
5. If you got free by any strange behavior . . . (Petrarch 64)

The brave band of the four of us who have taken this on agree that the first prompt was by far the hardest. I'm not going to share that poem with you here, though I forced myself to share it with my fellow Petrarchians. But I'm fond of the poem I wrote for the second prompt:

After Petrarch, Sonnet 212

I swim a sea that has no shore or bottom.
The worst part is I don’t know how to swim.
Dogpaddle, yes, a few short, choppy strokes
to flail across a shallow backyard pool . . .
and now this ocean stretching sky to sky!
There is no land. Not just no land in sight,
but no such thing as land, no dream of land,
no memory of land, no lexicon
that has the word “land” in it. Oh, and I
forgot to say I never learned to float,
to lie upon the water, flat and still,
in desperate trust that it will bear me up,
refuse to let me drown. I don’t know how.
But a good time to learn would be right now.

On to prompts three, four, and five!

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