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photo by Patrick S

Happy Saturday poets, I hope you are ready for a trip in the Way Back machine. Brian Miller here and I have invited one of our pub regulars, Shawna of RosemaryMint to tend the pub for us today. She has provided us with some definite fun for the day, so without further ado, take it away Shawna…

Poetry has become quite the obsession for me of late, both writing and reading it. I consume yours almost daily. Beyond that, I supplement my dverse intake with web sites and library books featuring poets, both favored and unfamiliar.

Last week, I checked out a book called The Best American Poetry, edited by David Lehman and Robert Bly.

“The best of all time?” I wondered. This would certainly be a good read!

photo by jason gessner

I did not notice the grey numerals backed by blaring in-your-face red shouting “1999” at me from the upper, right-hand corner. I often miss the obvious in favor of the oblique, like the small, empty coat hanger fading into the book’s jacket. Why was it drawn there? In 1999, who would nail-dangle a hanger on a wall? I don’t know about you, but I had a walk-in closet.

So what were you doing in 1999?

Which experiences do you recall vividly?

Were you in love?

What were your secrets?

Who was family to you?

What cars/music/styles did you like/dislike?

Who were you? Have you changed?

What do you wish you could forget?

In 1999, were you yet a writer? What does the passage of time mean for your writing? In The Best American Poetry (1999), Robert Bly says the following about writers, language, and the slipping away of one decade at a time:

“Many contemporary writers persuade themselves it is good not to have inwardness, not to have intensity, not to engage layers of meaning, not to have pungent phrasings, not to allow the heat of that sort of language … It’s possible that the particular heat which we call style amounts to recognizing and remembering the flavor of the decade in which one became an adult. … When the irreplaceable flavor of a given decade disappears, our language loses its vigor and becomes merely useful. … All of us, poets, essayists, and fiction writers alike, are being pressured by example to remove flavor from our work, along with our idiosyncrasies. We are fighting a front-line action against the cooling of language, …”

photo by izakigur

To tell you the truth, I found Bly’s introduction more interesting than the majority of the poetry presented in the remainder of the book. So if recalling the year 1999 doesn’t get your poetic juices flowing, consider mulling over Bly’s thoughts and integrating them into your poem, brimming with your own idiosyncratic heat.

To participate in this week’s prompt:

  • Write an original poem based on the prompt provided.
  • Post it on your blog.
  • Click the Mr. Linky button below. When a new window opens, enter your name and the direct url for your poem.
  • Visit others who have accepted the challenge.
  • Have fun taking a trip back to 1999.