Poetry Challenge: #18: Time Lapse

Opening scene.

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Journey on foot.

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A series of shots.

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Verdi’s Messa da Requiem fades in,

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overlapping for a brief moment with a ghost image.

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The scene freezes;

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Opening credits roll and scene fades to black.

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The Requiem continues an audible transition to the second scene.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

Child of a polio victim

An African boy looks up at the camera.

His father is disabled and he’s playing with his father’s crutches.

The family live on a $1 a day and these crutches are the only ‘toys’ the boy has to play with.

For this week’s WordPress photo challenge on the theme of ‘Up’,  I’m wondering what is uppermost in this boy’s mind at the moment I took the photograph.

Challenge #17: The Crack-Up Quarry

For today’s poetry challenge, I’m inspired to create a poem using the fold-in technique, made famous by William Burroughs.

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Splicing together paragraphs from different books offers interesting juxtapositions of text and image. “When you cut into the present the future leaks out.” said Burroughs. I walked over to my bookcase and selected the first two books that caught my attention.

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I opened to a random page — The Crack-Up, a collection of writings by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book fell open at page 161; Scott Fitzgerald’s Notebooks, Section J, Jingles and Songs.

This is the story of Fitzgerald’s “crack-up”, his quick descent from success to failure and despair and his determined recovery. Fitzgerald died in 1940 at the age of 44. “Sometimes,” Scott Fitzgerald once said: “I don’t know whether I’m real or whether I’m a character in one of my own novels.”

The second ‘fold-in book’ is a crime novel called The Quarry by Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt200px-TheQuarry

“Inspector Hans Bärlach, at the end of his career and suffering from cancer, is recovering from an operation. He witnesses how his friend Dr. Samuel Hungertobel turns pale and becomes nervous when looking at a photograph in a magazine he is reading. The person pictured is the German Dr. Nehle who carried out horrific experiments on prisoners in a concentration camp in Gdansk (Poland) and is believed to have committed suicide in Chile in 1945. Dr Hungertobel explains that his colleague Fritz Emmenberger, who was in Chile during the war, closely resembles Dr. Nehle.”

I opened The Quarry at a random page and used a piece of plain white paper to cover half the words on that page. I used the same technique with the Fitzgerald book.

I merged half lines of two verses from the poem ‘Clay Feet’ on page 161 of Fitzgerald’s book with a paragraph of half lines from Dürrenmatt’s book.

This is the result of the fold-in experiment. For clarification, Fitzgerald’s words are in regular typeface, Dürrenmatt’s words are in italics.

The Crack-Up Quarry

I can see them, sometimes

admitted

he

was completely baffled. 

Ghosts, slim

Girls and

Graces —

Glasses.  He always did that when he was…

Noon burns, and soon there come

Times said the Commissioner.  He readily 

The pale and ravaged places

Wasn’t always easy to give shelter to

ago adorned. — And Seeing, 

 and he, Barlach, would have to bear 

falters as an invalid…

Clandestine alcoholic.  He would

only 

Did something in their being

to call the clinic Sonnenstein in Zurich. 

From them when my ideal did?

A bed for Barlach under the name of

Ghosts, cast down by that young damning,

He should describe him as a freshly 

answer:  I heard but you say,

but rich patient

weak.  We failed a bit in shamming.

Want to go to (his colleague Fritz) Emmenberger? Dr Hungertobel

Will freedom always weigh…

and sat down.

My heart?  For your defection,

answered Balach.

Who had me in your keeping, break!  Fall

(Doctor Samuel) Hungertobel, “I don’t understand you.”

Height to this great imperfection!

“is dead” corrected the old man.  “Now…”

weep. —  Yet can I hate you all?

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Poetry Writing Challenge #16: Riddles in Rainy Weather

The challenge for today is to pick a language that you don’t know, and then translate a poem in that language.

Use the sound and shape of the words and lines to guide you, without worrying too much about whether your translation makes sense!

I chose to translate a poem written in Norwegian from a collection called Regnværsgåter (Riddles in Rainy Weather) by Gro Dahle.

HVEM ER DET SOM VENTER PÅ DEG UANSETT HVA DU HAR GJORT UANSETT HVA DU HAR SAGT MYKERE ENN DU HADDE TENKT BEDRE ENN DU KUNNE HUSKE?

Puten din
i det slitte gamle trekket
Et eneste stort kinn
av omfavnelse

Have they met some Ventura (good fortune) perhaps inserted afar? You have jotted down “Inserted Afar”, you have said Mercury in the Heavens; think betraying them, you can help?

Put it down!
I do slither as gamblers trekked.
And earnestly sought out kindred spirits
Above the state of OM (primordial vibration),
Five nails I see.

Below is the correct translation of the poem.

WHO IS WAITING FOR YOU REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU HAVE SAID SOFTER THAN WHAT YOU HAD THOUGHT BETTER THAN WHAT YOU COULD RECALL?

Your pillow
in the worn old cover
One big cheek
of embrace

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Poetry Writing Challenge #14: Batman in Harlem

Black associates of the Joker have kidnapped Batman and Robin and, at gunpoint, forced the Caped Crusaders to help aspiring rappers escape from the Hood. A yet to be famous musician called Gill Scott-Heron narrates the story.

The Adventures of Batman
The Adventures of Batman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Batman in Harlem.

Aspiring rappers nicknamed the Sharp Necks are clamoring to gain entry to the Story Avenue club.

I shall not stay awhile under this duress, says Batman.

Say, what’s up, Bruce, you don’t dig the jive in Harlem?

I’m late for an appointment with the Mayor of Gotham City, opines Batman.

Lights! Camera! Action!

De-ne-de-ne-de-ne-de-ne… BATMAN!

Okay, in today’s episode, you and

Robin spin the turntables forward and

retrograde mimicking the paths of planets.

Are you down with you that plan, B?

Batman says nothing.

He’s a superhero. KABOOM!

What’s our payoff ? POW!!

BOOM.

We are company that his soul can’t bear to keep. SPLAT!!!

Roll away the stone, put your smoke in the air. HOLY SMOKES BATMAN. Life

is waiting and we gonna peel outta the ghetto like apples falling far from the tree.  ZAP!!

Chickaboom.

Hey you poets with the gold teeth – wave your hands in the air.

I present to you: Robin and Batman. The original R n B!

The crowd go wild. Stamping. Clapping. Cheering. Whistling.

Radiant eyeballs spin like casino numbers.

Robin and Batman start rapping out a Percy Shelley tune.

Batman: “Watering his laurels with the killing tears/ Of slow, dull care, so that their roots to Hell might pierce…”

Robin: “He has hung upon his wiry limbs a dress like King Lear‘s…”

And then like the pint size/nice guy/ that he is Robin lapses into a reverie about Ancient Greece.

My name is Tiresias: I am the fire of desire and passion.

For seven years I lived as a woman. If I don’t slip back to the Bat cave tonight

there will be chaos in the comic world.

A Sharp Neck in the crowd shouts out…

Die to yesterday, Robin… yesterday was shit!”

Batman is getting itch feet and tries to calm the crowd by continuing with Shelley.

“A lady-witch there lived on Atlas’ mountain within a cavern, by a secret fountain.”

At which point, I interrupt Batman, and step up to the microphone — and say:

“Batman you are a complex figure, with a foot in each of many oppositions, mediating between gods and mankind, sleepwalkers and seers, present and future, Gotham City and the Harlem ghetto.

Drink deep before your ghost can see the future for himself.”

Upon my words

Batman slows to a pause.

The crowd hush up and stare.

Looking to and from, Batman and the Sharp Necks, I rap:

“Today the obstacles are translucent and, with your help,

we’ll achieve our dreams. Batman, I say to you:

As the Joker’s apprentice is my work finished for the evening?”

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Day 14 of National Poetry Writing Month.

Today’s challenge is to write a persona poem — that is, a poem in the voice of a particular person who isn’t you.

http://www.napowrimo.net/

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

1 Amputee Sierra Leone

The Peace Project, an international social movement that I work with in Sierra Leone, changed this man’s life by giving him a pair of crutches.

I took this photograph in May 2012 during one of The Peace Project’s crutch distribution efforts in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

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