Hi everyone! This is our last poetry prompt for 2021 and we are grateful for all your visits, participation and enthusiasm in our poetry community. We will be going on a 2 week holiday break and we will come back on January 3, 2022.
For today’s poetry form, we will be learning a verse form of praise, and listening to the wonderful reading by David Whyte.
I. Kwansaba is an African American verse form of praise. The Kwansaba, (swahili kwan – first fruit / saba -principle) was created in 1995 by Eugene B Redmond, East St. Louis Poet Laureate and professor of English at Southern Illinois University-East St. Louis. The form was developed in honor of the celebration of Kwanzaa . The poetic form adopts the number 7 from Kwanzaa’s Nguzo Saba (7 principles) as well as embraces its roots in the South African tradition of the Praise Poem.
Kwanzaa is a 7 day celebration of the African-American family encompassing African-American heritage, culture and principles. The celebration was introduced by Dr. Maulana Karenga, African-American educator, following the Watts riots of 1966 with the intent of bringing the African American community together. Kwansaba, the birth of a poetry form The 7 principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Each day of the celebration focuses on one of the principles.
The defining features of Kwansaba are:
1.a celebration of family and African-American culture, a praise poem.
2.a septastich, a poem in 7 lines. (To be clear, it is only 1 stanza).
3. measured by 7 words in each line.
4. written with no word exceeding 7 letters.
Source . Here is my example:
Our faces shine brighter than neon lights
Smoke from fiery spices fill our noses
Festive table is filled with fruits, sweet
bread, yam and cured meats. Church bells
echo our evening prayers with white candles
Voices rise with plates & tall tales
Here is home, warm as chicken soup
Our first writing challenge is to write a Kwansaba, verse form of praise.
II. I came across this beautiful reading by David Whyte here.
Two of these poems — “Blessing for Sound” and “Blessing for the Light” — come alive as a ravishment of Irish landscape and music in Whyte’s collaboration with filmmaker Andrew Hinton and composer Owen Ó Súilleabháin for Emergence Magazine.
BLESSING FOR SOUND
from The Bell and the Blackbird by David Whyte
I thank you,
for the smallest sound,
for the way my ears open
even before my eyes,
as if to remember
the way everything began
with an original, vibrant, note,
and I thank you for this
everyday original music,
always being rehearsed,
always being played,
always being remembered
as something new
and arriving, a tram line
below in the city street,
gull cries, or a ship’s horn
in the distant harbour,
so that in waking I hear voices
even where there is no voice
and invitations where
there is no invitation
so that I can wake with you
by the ocean, in summer
or in the deepest seemingly
and be with you
so that I can hear you
even with my eyes closed,
even with my heart closed,
even before I fully wake.
BLESSING FOR THE LIGHT
from The Bell and the Blackbird by David Whyte
I thank you, light, again,
for helping me to find
the outline of my daughter’s face,
I thank you light,
for the subtle way
your merest touch gives shape
to such things I could
only learn to love
through your delicate instruction,
and I thank you, this morning
most intimately and secretly
for your visible invisibility,
the way you make me look
at the face of the world
so that everything becomes
an eye to everything else
and so that strangely,
I also see myself being seen,
so that I can be born again
in that sight, so that
I can have this one other way
along with every other way,
to know that I am here.
The second option is to write a response poem along the theme of Blessings and Thankfulness, if you have been inspired listening to the 2 poems by David Whyte. Just a note that if you are to borrow a line from a poem to begin or end a new poem, to give credit to the poet and poem that inspired you.
Today’s writing challenge: You have 2 options: 1) write a Kwansaba poem using the guidelines as described above, or 2) write a response poem to David Whyte’s Blessing for Light and Blessing for Sound poems.
Here is how to join us if you are new:
- Write a poem based on the writing challenge as described above. Post it on your blog or website.
- Enter your name and direct link to your poem in Mr. Linky.
- Follow the links to other poets. Read and comment on other poems. We all appreciate feedback on our poems.
- Link back to dVerse so others can find us too.
- Have fun!
See you next year! On behalf of the dVerse team, Thank You. ~Grace~