NaPoWriMo 2023- Day 22- I saw it

Today’s featured resource is the Open House poetry radio program. On each program, hosts Cornelius Eady and Patricia Spears Jones interview poets about their new and recent work. You can listen online, or live every Friday on NYC’s WBAI.

Today’s prompt (optional, as always, and taken from our archives) is a variation on a teaching exercise that the poet Anne Boyer uses with students studying the work of Emily Dickinson. As you may know, although Dickinson is now considered one of the most original and finest poets the United States has produced, she was not recognized in her own time. One reason her poems took a while to gain a favorable reception is their slippery, dash-filled lines. Those dashes baffled her readers so much that the 1924 edition of her complete poems replaced some with commas, and did away with others completely. Today’s exercise asks you to do something similar, but in the interests of creativity, rather than ill-conceived “correction.” Find an Emily Dickinson poem – preferably one you’ve never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it! (Not sure where to find some Dickinson poems? You’ll find oodles at the bottom of this page).

I’ve been meaning to write a bird poem for a long time but hadn’t been able to for the prompts so far. This prompt gave me the opportunity to do it. I used the poem ‘A bird came down, the Walk’ for this exercise. I hadn’t read the poem before. I enjoyed this exercise, but I hope Emily forgives me for changing her beautiful poem.

A Bird came down
The worm did not know
He bit it in halves
I saw it.

He ate it, raw,
And slurped the dew
From the closest blade of grass
I saw it.

Then he hopped sidewise
Let a beetle pass and glanced
Furtively, for other hurrying creatures.
I saw it.

He stirred
his velvet head,
I saw it.

I offered him a crumb,
He unrolled his feathers,
And came closer.
He saw me.

As if he'd been drawn
by a string softly Home
Like oars dividing the ocean
bringing a boat to shore.

Too velvety, his breast hairs shone
Like butterfly wings, at noon,
shimmering. Bending his head,
he pecked at the crumbs.

8 responses to “NaPoWriMo 2023- Day 22- I saw it”

  1. Manja Maksimovič Avatar

    I love your addition of repeated “I saw it”. Brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thanks, Manja❤️. I enjoyed this prompt. Easier than most.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mick Canning Avatar

    I admit I read her poems in the original ‘dashed’ version and found them a difficult read. I very much like yours, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Wow! Thanks, Mick. That’s huge. I love Emily Dickinson’s poems. There’s something about it- straightforward, simple and to the point. It hits you.
      P.S. sorry for the delayed reply. I’ve been traveling. Your comment made me feel good. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mick Canning Avatar

        Thanks, Smitha. Hope the travelling was productive.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Smitha V Avatar

          It was, Mick. We got a lot done- especially, since we moved from Mumbai in a hurry. I also realized, that getting out of here every now and then is essential to remain sane. Thank you for asking.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. The Inkwell (Pankaj Kumar) Avatar

    Your poem is a beautiful tribute to Emily Dickinson’s “A Bird Came Down the Walk”. It captures the essence of the original poem while adding your own unique voice and perspective. I appreciate the way you have used simple language and short, concise lines to create an intimate and delicate atmosphere. Your poem demonstrates your ability to capture the essence of nature in a few simple words. 👍👏👌😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you very much for visiting the blog and reading my version of Emily’s poem so attentively. I appreciate your comment very much and I’m very glad you think the poem captures the essence and shows my love for nature. 🙏🙂


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