Tracing a day in the creation of collaborative poetry, I could only marvel at how poetic prompts work for writers who have to be goaded to follow the self-imposed discipline they must muster if they expect to write constantly and seriously (maybe, playfully, since it assumes pleasurable levels of creative fun and play--mostly games of language articulation blended with spontaneous sensibilities).
Poets Luisa A. Igloria (Norfolk, Va.) and Dave Bonta (Pennsylvania) have engaged this poet in this exercise of writing to a prompt, find poems in pithy Zen-like meditations, and collaborate on the writing of poems within time constraints (usually within the day, depending on how early Dave Bonta posts his Morning Porch prompts.) As exercises, they lend themselves well to National Poetry Month in America.
For instance, the Morning Porch post comes in at 9:20 a.m. on April 6, 2011, wondering if spring will ever return---bitter cold wrecking havoc on the spring buds.
By 11:14 a.m., Albert B. Casuga completes his response to the "prompt" with the following poem (since revised for this blog) and posts it in the Morning Porch literary blog of Mr. Bonta (he is the generous host and curator of poetry written on the spot by at least 10 regular poets following his blog).
THE UNANSWERED QUESTION
Cold. What would it be like without spring?
Consider the pillaged villages dismembered:
infants litter streets haunted by blank faces.
Consider the disemboweled huts left empty
by floodwaters welled from dammed levees
protecting the rice paddies of the hacienda.
Consider the forlorn sentry praying for an end
to the war, his craving for absent warmth
and his lovers’ caresses, away from home.
Consider the unanswered pleas of the faithful
whose unfaithful gods mock them at unlit altars,
chants gone stale with murmured fears and pain.
Consider the abiding cold that envelops us,
and pose the echoed question: will spring be back,
will the warblers return to a sleeping forest?
O, the fat daffodil buds will remain on their stalks,
but the orphaned infants’ cry will fade away
into a still night, into the cold aborted spring.
—Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, ON 04-06-11
THE BELOVED ASKS
How do I know you
The ruffs that soften
around the necks of daffodils.
The arrogant bees
lording it over the trellis.
Bursts of pollen, tell-tale marks
like gunpowder on sleeves of pavement.
In the dark I hear the frogs again,
whetting their voices on cold creek stones.
Most of all that tendril of clear
uncertainty: knowing what could be lost.
~ Luisa A. Igloria
04 06 2011
By 5:39 p.m. of the same day, Albert B. Casuga posts his poetic response to Ms. Igloria's "The Beloved Asks". It takes the prose-poem form completing the collaborative cycle, unless another poet responds further to either poems or both poems. The day ends 24 hours after the Bonta prompt.
This time, Casuga is prompted by the last line of Igloria, to compose the following:
How do I know you/have returned?/…Most of all that tendril of clear/uncertainty: knowing what could be lost.
WHAT COULD BE LOST?
When you returned, your children told stories to each other again:
Remember when you’d throw us up into the air and land on waves
bigger than mountains? Remember how you’d swim to us laughing
and we would cough up brine and yell: that’s not funny, you know.
Remember where you left the chocolate bars for noche buena and
how they’d melted underneath Mom’s pillow, and O, you laughed!
Remember why we hid the goat that was to grace your birthday,
and you laughed that we saved a life on your birthday? Billy. Billy.
Billy, we called out for him feigning ignorance of a coy conspiracy.
Like spring, if it never comes, there would be no laughter coming
from that corner where your rocking chair remains empty. Sundown
would bring some such uncertain question murmured: Remember?
When you returned, I knew what I had lost. Like an absent spring.
At this writing, 9:32 p.m., no other collaborative poem has been posted. This exercise is hereafter posted to this writer's literary blog, Ambit's Gambit, in time for its April 7 post.
Poetic Prompt: Cold. The fat daffodil buds sag on their stalks. Will this be a year without a spring? Will warblers return to find a sleeping forest?---Dave Bonta, Morning Porch, 04-06-11(http://www.morningporch.com/) and http://www.vianegativa.us/
For more collaborative poems that may have been written before the 24th hour from the posting of the prompt, follow the sites above.
(Back home, in the old poetic tradition of the Philippine "Balagtasan", poets would entertain crowds while they joust in public using strict poetic forms. Much like rapping? Better.)