old pond

2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge- Day 8

Today’s prompt was a very cool one, by guest prompter Daniel Ari: “Talk back to a dead poet. Choose a poem you like by a poet who is no longer living and offer a rebuttal.” There was only one way I could go with this:

Original poem:

old pond…
a frog leaps in
water’s sound

— Matsuo Basho (translated by William Higginson)

My response:

old pond…
after the frog
only ripples

“Frog” is a spring kigo.  For 30 more different translations of Basho’s famous frog poem, check out this page. More poetic responses can be read on the Poetic Asides blog.

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Poet Showcase: Daniel Ari

Name: Daniel Ari
Location: Richmond, California, USA (near Berkeley)

Blogs: IMUNURI, cohosted with Scooter Cascadia. We post a prompt every Monday, and though the contributors list is currently closed, people can post responses in the comment section.

FightsWithPoems is my personal blog for a wider range of topics relating to poetry and writing, and is also more sporadic.

How do you know Cara? I met Cara on Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides blog, I think in April 2009.

How long have you been writing poetry? I’ve been writing since I was a wee one. My brother Phil and I produced one issue of “Ugly’s Illustrated,” a magazine for monsters. That was my first poetry publication. “Goblins coming down the hall. / Spiders creeping up the wall. / A ghost is singing a scary song, / and you won’t be alive for very long.”

I started writing in earnest in high school some time around my junior year, because of a difficult crush. By the time I graduated and got to college, I had formed the habit of keeping a poetry journal at all times, and I have been writing since then. It’s been about 28 years of devoted poetry practice.

In the mid-90s, I went through a phase of sending out poems for publication every week, and I landed about a dozen, though I found the results anticlimactic. A few contributors copies would come months later, but there was no reading or community. But I had a lot of friends who also wrote and I found and then formed writing groups from about 1997 through today. Between those sessions, now monthly, and the vibrant online poetry community at my blog and Poetic Asides, I feel very fulfilled by the practice.

What kind of poetry do you write? Any kind. I don’t limit myself. For a while there, I was devotedly writing queron, a 17-line form I developed, but then I wanted to find a way to write quicker and looser, with more storytelling, so I started doing that. I love rhyme and rhythm, but I often use these spices so subtlety that the poems might be taken for free verse. I enjoy writing from other perspectives, telling other people’s stories. I also like to explore the deep questions of ontology, spirit, and capital-l Life in poetry.

Mainly I like to think of poetry practice as a wide open field where I can do anything I can imagine. Every poem is something new.

Please share a poem:

“For Richardson Bay”

I’m going to spend the next part of my path
away from you. Farther away. It’s not
my choice. There’s good in it, but I’d rather
stay near. While I surge in and out on BART*
you’ll keep languishing in your endless bath.

Some extraordinary day when it’s hot—
it may be years from now—I’ll come across
the bridges to walk with you and visit
about those days and these days. Eight years passed
in your embrace, breathing your marshy breath.

When summer comes, how will I not miss you
in the city with all its distractions?
Union Square swamps with shoppers and tourists
making each day’s commercial commotion,
but there may be days or weeks I forget

the surge and suck of water in motion
though, so close, the bay kisses the ocean.

*Bay Area Rapid Transit