Manicddaily, a/k/a, Karin Gustafson, trying to remember
the kind of September
when life was slow
and oh so mellow–
Somehow I just can’t.
But what I can remember when I took my kids to The Fantasticks, the musical comedy written by Tom Jones (book and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music) , which is the source of that song. The Fantasticks happened then to be the longest running show off-Broadway (42 years), with “Try to Remember” its most widely-covered number. The show, when we saw it, even had its own theatre, a little black shoebox off of Bleecker.
So, why was the play, and that song in particular, so popular?
Maybe because trying to remember is something people like to do, or at least, spend a lot of time doing.
Remembering is an activity of especial importance to poets, who, even if they do not write directly of their own lives, tend to write from personal experience.
Years ago, long before I started blogging, I was in a small writing group. I call it a group, but it was really just a couple of other women that I would sit and write with. We’d usually meet in coffee shops, cafes; sometimes when one of my writing buddies, who drove into downtown Manhattan from Brooklyn, couldn’t find a place to park, we would even sit and write in her car.
The point is that we really wanted to write– but because our lives were all far from mellow, even long ago Septembers–it was hard to just change gears. The one prompt that always got our pens moving was “I remember,” which we would sometimes follow up with “I don’t remember.”
You would think it would be repetitive. But each person’s pieces were always different from anything she’d ever written before–because we would write about what we remembered in just that moment and then, we would write about what we didn’t remember, what in other words, that moment made us realize we had missed.
It made me understand that memory is a muse who, while nearly always hovering nearby, constantly changes her look. Because not only do we see the past through the mists of time, we also see it through the ever-varying lens of the present.
So here’s your prompt for the day: some variation of “I remember”. By variation, I mean any permutation that you wish. If you are blocked, “I remember” could be a great place to start, but you could also write of what you don’t remember, what he or she remembers, memory in general, or even amnesia.
For further inspiration, you may like looking into Joe Brainard, a visual artist and poet, who wrote whole book called I Remember. Here’s one sample:
I remember when my father would say
“Keep your hands out from under the
covers” as he said goodnight. But he
said it in a nice way.
Also, if you are interested, here’s a link to a writing exercise I did on I remember in my own very early blogging days that describes my old dear writing group.
At any rate, poets! Your task for today’s Poetics: Remember! Or, don’t remember! But when you find your thread, do as the song says, follow!
And do REMEMBER to check up on your fellow poets, the other members of this very wonderful online community.
For those new, here’s the drill:
• Write your poem on memory, I remember, I do not remember or any variation, and post it on your website or blog.
• Copy the direct URL to your poem and paste it, along with your name, in the spaces Mr. Linky offers you at the bottom of this post.
• Remember to visit your fellow poets. (Be sure to leave a proper link so people can easily return your visits.)
• Spread the word! Use your social media sites to invite some newcomers. It’s good to include a link to dVerse on your own post, too, so your followers can locate us.
And finally, finally, do check out my books - Nose Dive, Going on Somewhere, 1 Mississippi, and don’t forget the new dVerse Anthology, edited by Frank Watson.