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Poetry Friday : February 24, 2017.

Transformed Discovery

The pen of a poet
is chanting a tale
of bright stars glowing
above the lost land
complete
with belching geysers,
gurgling mud pots
and simmering pools—
transformed discovery
on a magical summer night

© 2017 Alice Nine


Back story of the poem.
In the 5th Annual February Daily Poem Project writing challenge (#w10FoundWords), ten words are randomly selected from a news article. There may be one or two bonus words. Using these words, participants write a poem. One day this week, Catherine from Reading to the Core culled ten words plus one for us. Here they are.

tale
lost
transformed
discovery
simmering
bright
chanting
complete
magical
summer
bonus: poet


Writing about my writing.

I decided to take the challenge. I decided that I would write a decastich (a 10-line poem). And I decided to keep notes of my process and thinking to share. I should mention that in this #w10FoundWords challenge, I have the words before I have a topic, a story. I have to discover the topic, the story, in those words. That is the flip of normal writing–when we have a topic, a story, and we have to find the words.

I.
First, I copied and pasted the list of words into “Notes” on my Mac. I read them several times, looking for connections. I mentally sorted the nouns, looking for a subject. I picked out  tale, summer,  and poet. Using poet and tale, I wrote two lines

The poet tells
a magical tale

II.
I read the lines over. Cute, but not what I wanted. I didn’t want near homophones ending my lines, and I didn’t want to create a rhyme scheme. I ditched the lines and tried again.

The poet tells
of children chanting
of paintpots simmering
and bright stars glowing
of magical times

  • Paintpots had popped into my head (from Yellowstone memories) when I did a quick mental brainstorm of what simmers. I liked its unexpectedness in the context.
  • I didn’t want alliteration, so I struck through “children chanting.”
  • I always like the power of three (lines 2-4), and I like the infusion of action achieved with -ing verb forms (participles) at the end of these lines. But, again, it wasn’t what I wanted in this poem.
  • So, I ditched these lines.

III.
At this point I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I was figuring out what I didn’t want. So I continued putting words together to form phrases all the time looking for a connection between the phrases.

  • I tried,  poets penned a tale.  I read it a couple times and had an idea: I could shift from the poet to the pen —  The pen of the poet. I thought, this is a keeper.
  • I paired magical and summer  for  magical summer. I thought, it’s a bit hackneyed, but I’ll keep it because it takes care of two words. I put it at the bottom of my paper; I figured it would be the end.
  • I looked again at simmering paintpots and pulled more images from my Yellowstone memories — mud pots and geysers — to go with paintpots.
  • I added adjectives: gurgling mud pots, spouting geysers, simmering paintpots. But that gave me one too many “pots” and with the three syllables in “simmering,” I thought a single syllable word would be better.
  • I tried to think of a one-syllable word, but nothing would come. I googled “Yellowstone,” skimmed a descriptive paragraph, and found “pool.” Simmering pools. I thought, that will work. So I discarded paintpots.
  • I scanned the list of ten-found words again, and the word lost begged to go with the word land, and since I had things of the land (mud pots, geysers, pools), I wrote it down: a lost land.

Here are the phrases that had emerged–

the pen of the poet
is writing a tale
a lost land
bright stars glowing
gurgling mud pots
spouting geysers
simmering pools
a magical summer

IV.
All at once, ideas start jumping around, like Mexican jumping beans when they feel the warmth of your hand.

  • Replacing the definite article (pointing to one particular poet) with an indefinite one so the reader could put any poet into the line:

the pen of a poet.

  • Switching the third and fourth phrases.

bright stars glowing
a lost land

  • Adding of before bright stars to connect it to tale in previous line, and adding of to gurgling mud pots.
  • Putting over on the line of a lost land.
  • Changing over to above. I thought above sounded better; it gave me different vowel sounds and the unstressed / stressed syllable pattern that I wanted.
  • Changing a lost land to the lost land; the definite article points to a particular one.

of bright stars glowing
above the lost land

  • Having misread spouting several times as “sprouting,” I checked my thesaurus and came up with belching. I liked its sound and connotations: belching geysers
  • Using with to replace of  in the mud pots line; adding and to the pools line.

with gurgling mud pots,
belching geysers
and simmering pools

  • Trying the words transformed in before a magical summer.

transformed
in a magical summer

And with every change, I read it AGAIN and AGAIN, silently and out loud — feeling the way it moved in my mouth and rolled off my tongue, listening to the sounds, visualizing the scene I was creating and wondering what character might emerge, what event might occur.

See the result below in V.

V.
My goal was a 10-line poem using all 11 words. I had 9 rough lines using 8 of the 11 words.

1  The pen of a poet
2  is writing a tale
3  of bright stars glowing
4  above the lost land
5  with belching geysers,
6  gurgling mud pots
7  and simmering pools
transformed
9  in a magical summer

VI.
I was missing chanting, complete, and discovery.

  • I looked chanting up in the dictionary, and decided I could use it in place of writing in line 2. I liked the personification. And perhpas metonymy also. (That is a stretch with literary devices for this elementary teacher.)

The pen of a poet
is chanting a tale

  • If I put the word complete between line 4 and line 5, I would have the 10th line, and the reader would infer that there were other characteristics of the lost land besides those mentioned in the the lines that follow.
  • Transformed could be a main verb in a phrase, or it could be a participle to describe a noun. Discovery is a noun, paired with transformed I would get transformed discovery. I liked the twist; the hidden meaning it carried.

I made the changes and read the entire piece again–

1  The pen of a poet
2  is chanting a tale
3  of bright stars glowing
4  above the lost land
complete
6  with belching geysers,
7  gurgling mud pots
8  and simmering pools
9  transformed discovery
10  in a magical summer

VII.
I needed a couple more changes.

  • Line 8. I added a dash after pools, so that the last two lines would be like add-on’s in a sentence, connecting back to lost land making transformed discovery and lost land one and the same.
  • Line 10. Those changes called for replacing in with on and adding night at the end of the line.
  • I thought about Lost Land as the title, but that seemed a bit hackneyed. So did Magical Summer and  Magical Night. I thought of Yellowstone, but I didn’t want to limit the poem to a geographical location. So, I chose Transformed Discovery.

Now, I invite you to go back to the top of this post and read Transformed Discovery one more time. Then I’d love to hear your thoughts in Comments below.


Karen at Karen Edmisten* is hosting
the Poetry Friday Roundup today.
Join us there!  Thank you, Karen!

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