Just one day left in NaPoWriMo and GloPoWriMo!

Our featured participant is undercaws, where the backwards-story poem for Day 28 tells the tale of an unsettling encounter with a neighbor.

Today’s poet in translation is Haiti’s Frank Etienne. Unfortunately, there’s very little Haitian poetry available in English translation, and even though Etienne is one of Haiti’s best-known writers (he is a playwright, novelist, and artist, as well as a poet), the same is true for him. Still, you can read his poem “Dialect of Hurricanes” here, and check out a New York Times profile of Etienne here.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Poet and artist Joe Brainard is probably best remembers for his book-length poem/memoir, I Remember. The book consists of a series of statements, all beginning with the phrase “I remember.” Here are a few examples:

I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.

I remember how much I cried seeing South Pacific (the movie) three times.

I remember how good a glass of water can taste after a dish of ice cream.

The specific, sometimes mundane and sometimes zany details of the things Brainard remembers builds up over the course of the book, until you have a good deal of empathy and sympathy for this somewhat odd person that you really feel you’ve gotten to know.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. You could start by adopting Brainard’s uniform habit of starting every line with “I remember,” and then you could either cut out all the instances of “I remember,” or leave them all in, or leave just a few in. At any rate, hopefully you’ll wind up with a poem that is heavy on concrete detail, and which uses that detail as its connective tissue. Happy writing!

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