Manicddaily, a/k/a, Karin Gustafson, here to remind you that tomorrow is February 2, celebrated as “Groundhog Day”, in some parts of the world. (Tomorrow is also the celebration of some other event here in the U.S., which my husband tells me is important, but of which I have no personal knowledge.)
I am guessing that many of you have seen the wonderful movie, Ground Hog Day, with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. In the movie, Murray, a rather self-centered TV weatherman, gets stuck in a time loop in the small town in Pennsylvania that his crew has visited because of its celebrated (i.e. openly visible) ground hog. Murry re-lives his February 2 again and again until after much sturm, drang, Sonny and Cher, and ground hog carnage, he arrives at redemption, release, and, of course, true love.
I had a sense of deja vue vaguely like Bill Murray’s, but without the Sonny and Cher, when I agreed to this date for a prompt. Why? I did the dVerse poetics prompt last Ground Hog’s day! (I am running one of last year’s photos because it was super cute and my poor dog Pearl, posing as ground hog below, is no longer with me.)
Which brings me to today’s prompt: repetition! Doing or saying something again and again. Trying to reinforce it. Trying to get it right. Stuck with it or relishing it, glorying in it or just plain old broken-recording it.
Repetition is an age-old poetic tool. Various poetic forms, such as the villanelle or the sestina, rely on repeated lines or words. However, repetition has great rhetorical force in poetry even outside of a traditional verse form. I think, for example, of Allan Ginsberg’s “Howl”, which opens nearly every line of its Part I with an urgent “who” and many of the lines of its Part II with “Moloch.”
Aside from its value as a rhetorical device, repetition is an interesting poetic theme simply because it is such an important aspect of human endeavor. Humans seem biologically drawn to the familiar–they espouse routines, adore rituals, crave the comfort of favorites.
On the negative side, humans (and animals too for that matter) readily get stuck in grooves; they have a hard time learning emotional lessons first time through; they sometimes opt for familiar pain rather than unfamiliar growth. They can be alternatively strengthened or defeated by habitual patterns.
In thinking of repetition, I recalled a style of yoga I practiced for many many years, called Astanga. In this practice, I did the same series of exercises in the same order for the same number of breaths, six days of every week. The idea was that by focusing on these same exercises, you could reduce distraction–all that fluster about what strange pose to do next—and focus on the basic movement of breath and energy. Through repetition, it was thought, a kind of magic could arise. Of course, so could various stress injuries. Still, it was a tremendously fulfilling practice–when you did the same series of poses every day, you became intensely conscious of the small (and sometimes large) differences each day brings=the “same old/same old” accentuating what was endlessly changing.
So, Poets, your prompt is–
So, Poets your prompt is–
Um—–Repetition–in whatever form form form that may arise. (And hopefully, there will also be some magic.)
Re other inspiration—I am not posting the texts “repetition” poems out of copyright concerns–but here’s one I found especially apt–“Daily Life” by Susan Wood. Also, if you are interested in repetition in poetry as a poetic device, please check out this previous dVerse article “Say it Again, Sam” by Hedgewitch, Joy Ann Jones.)
Finally, do check out the poems of your fellow poets! That’s a way to really make magic arise.
If this is your first time here—this is how it works:
- Write a poem (somehow thinking about repetition) and post it to your webpage
- Click on Mr. Linky below and enter your name and the direct url to your poem.
- Visit other poets that have joined in and comment, letting them know what you liked about their story. Note that this is an integral part of performance–being an appreciative audience.
- Promote yourself on social media. If you use @dversepoets we will find you and be able to promote you as well.
- Have fun.
Finally finally–if you have any time left over, check out my books! 1 Mississippi, Going on Somewhere and Nose Dive! Also, all the drawings and photos posted here are mine–all rights reserved.