The surprise….party, tragedy, epiphany. The unsought treasure under a rock. The phone call at midnight. The understanding (perhaps the most unexpected of all) that you are not only in love, but are loved back.
One of my daughters used to get hiccups frequently and I’d try–BOOO!
–to startle them out of her.
It didn’t usually work.
But for poets, if not hiccupers, the unexpected can be a great tool, waking and shaking both lines and readers.
Poetry, like life, can be stranger than fiction; compressed, styled, even more open to narrative leaps and linguistic juxtaposition. Ted Kooser’s Late February, for example, moves peacefully through an early spring day, the snow “no more/than a washing/strewn over the yards” – to the discovery of a farmer’s body “as unexpected as a tulip.” (Kaboom!)
But poetic surprise generally doesn’t bother to involve corpses – in Archaic Torso of Apollo, Rilke describes how the starburst gaze of a headless statue exhorts him to change his life. (Okay, there’s a torso.) In Teaching my Husband to Swim, Jacqueline Burger’s revelation is simply that her husband does not know how to hold his breath underwater.
The unexpected can also infuse rhythm/rhyme – Cole Porter matches Mahatma Gandhi with Napoleon Brandy (from You’re the Top.) dVerse’s own Brian Miller uses the sounds of a back-spun record to illustrate repeated discordance: “riap elbarapesni eht raw & evol/love & war the inseparable pair.” From Love & War (Part 1).
Before I go through the rest of the drill, I want to say that for me the writing of any poem is an unexpected gift, and the reading of that poem by others – and their comments upon it – are things that a year or so ago would have been beyond my wildest dreams. So, thank you thank you thank you in advance for your participation in this site, your wonderfully brave and creative poetry, and your support of your fellow poets.
So here’s out it works:
- Write a poem that you did not expect to write today! Or if you don’t have one, find an old poem that involved the unexpected. Post it!
- Click on the Mr. Linky button below and enter your name and url and click enter.
- This is also where you will find the list of those that have also joined in—read, comment, meet new people—let people know what you think of their verse. (Let go of expectations!)
- Feel free to share your link and a link to dverse using the social media of your choice.
- Take a chance. Have fun.
(A few credits – the above rainbow under a stone is my photograph of a light sculpture by Jason Martin; the drawing of springboard elephant is by yours truly, Karin Gustafson.)