Thursday, May 31, 2007

Poetry Challenge - NEWER VERSION POSTED JUNE 2 Link to it below

Link to Summer Poetry Challenge Rules by clicking here.

I would like to propose a summer reading challenge. It's easy in one way - the reading assignments can be quite short, it might be challenging in others.

This occurred to me today as I was posting a comment to Daniel in response to her reading of The Good Soldier at her great blog A Work in Progress. Poems do things with words that prose does not - that might seem obvious - but we pretty much all use words everyday and have a certain expectation of how they're meant to be used - we're supposed to explain our point clearly and, generally, economically, if possible. But poems use words purely for the sake of structure, texture, sound, how they look on the page, their aim may not be clarity but instead obscurity, poking fun, doing what we're not supposed to do, or expressing private matters in a secret code. We pretty much accept that paint and clay can be used non-representationally, we know that space can curve, that light can be conceived of as both a particle and a wave, but when words challenge our expectations...

See the rules by clicking on the above link and, meanwhile, here's one I enjoy:

The Wrong Way Home
- James Tate

All night long a door floated down the river.
It tried to remember little incidents of pleasure
from its former life, like the time the lovers
leaned against it kissing for hours
and whispering those famous words.
Later, there were harsh words and a shoe
was thrown and the door was slammed.
Comings and goings by the thousands,
the early mornings and late nights, years, years.
O they've got big plans, they'll make a bundle.
The door was an island that swayed in its sleep.
the moon turned the doorknob just slightly,
burned its fingers and ran,
and still the door said nothing and slept.
At least that's what they like to say,
the little fishes and so on.
Far away, a bell rang, and then a shot was fired.


Imani said...

This is a great idea! I usually avoid challenges but I'll be doing this one. I'll return with my info and a list of poems.

Ted said...

Yay - one nibble! I'll post the rules soon, but I'm leaning toward assembling everyone's list as it comes in - listing poets and poems and serving as a directory, with everyone posting and conversing at their own sites - creating lots of traffic for each person's own site. Any opinions on the best way to administer these things? I'm still green at blogging.

Imani said...

I've ignored all challenges up to this point, sticking with reading groups like Slaves of Golconda so I'm not the best source. I do know that some bloggers actually set up another blog as a resource for the challenge, complete with spiffy badge, lists of rules and participants etc. Or they simply use a post on their site with all that information and update it when necessary.

As far as actual participation goes each blogger typically keeps a list in their sidebar and posts about each book/poem on their own site, including a like to the site/post relevant to the challenge.

For examples take a look at Southern Reading Challenge

Non-fiction Five Challenge

and the ambitious Once Upon a Time Challenge complete with its very own Review Site

Imani said...

Oops, I forgot to include my list of poems! I think my options are kinda crazy but hey I am aim high. :-S

pre-1900: Paradise Lost by Milton

1900 - 2000: a pick from Adam Zagajewski's Without End

2000-2007: a pick from Talking Dirty to the Gods - Yusef Komunyakaa

From any period: The Story of Layla and Majnun - Nezami

Ted said...

Thanks for the info re challenges and your submission! Woo hoo - one and counting, well two, including me.

JazzyJacks said...


I don't have a blog set up, but I'm very interested in this poetry challenge....excited to be honest!! Please count me in, and I'll figure out how I can contribute w/o necessarily posting to a blog.


Ted said...

Hi Jasmin
Blogger makes it pretty easy to create your own blog, but as I get the rules together keep in touch, you can at least participate choosing your own four poems but of course the fun is in the dialogue, so hopefully you can find a way to do it!

Wendy said...

Hi Ted - I've posted your challenge to my blog A Novel Challenge (
summer-poetry-challenge-2007.html) so hope you will get some interested people :)

Ted said...

Thank very much, Wendy!

Dewey said...

Hey, Ted, I think I have to join this challenge, too! I'll figure out my list and post it soon.

Ted said...

Great, Dewey! The newer post - I provide a link at the top of this one, is more up to date re the "rules." Looking forward to your choices. I have no idea what mine are yet.