Hi everyone! We have a guest host for today’s Meeting the Bar, Anna Montgomery – Grace
Greetings poets! My name is Anna Montgomery and I’d like to (re)introduce myself to this wonderful community. About a decade ago, I was a regular here and wrote a series for Meeting the Bar on experimental, post-modern, and metamodern poetry, encouraging writers to grow and innovate in their practice, even if just for one prompt. I love to see people learn, embrace challenges, and discover new ideas or ways of approaching their poetry that keep it fresh and exciting for the reader and the poet. I can’t help it, it’s the educator and the scientist in me.
Today I found inspiration in looking backward instead of forward in the poetic pantheon as I often incorporate philosophy, myth, or ancient forms in my own work. Gnomic poetry is the long lived and loved practice of moralizing in verse. This places gnomic poetry squarely in the wisdom literature tradition. In its initial form, early Greek gnomic poetry was expressed with aphorisms or any saying that encapsulates, in a pithy manner, advice on how to (or how not to) live. While it was certainly popular in Ancient Greece it is in no way limited to that time and culture. According to Princeton’s Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics it was found in the poetic traditions of the Ancient Egyptians and Chinese, as well as poets writing in the Sanskrit, Celtic, and Hebrew literatures. It could also stand in as a treatise on your philosophy of life. Kassia, a Byzantine-Greek poet and composer often used the form to infuse well-worn wisdom with a fresh twist, combining sacred wisdom with profane percipience and a dash of wit. If you’d like a further primer on Gnomic poetry and poets, please see this article from the Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry.
To explore how to make our own contributions to this tradition I have some suggestions. You could start (or end) your poem with an aphorism. There are several excellent choices here. You could share your own original down-home wisdom in a short form like comfort food. If you prefer more flourishes, you could start with a central ethical conceit and enhance the flavor of your poem from there. You could use myths or a tale from the wisdom literature to jump off into your poetic exploration. Any maxim or proverb will do. If Aesop’s Fables ever inspired you, you can find his wisdom quoted here. The choice is yours, but the focal point of your poem must have a moral or assert a philosophical position on life. Remember, just because we are moralizing doesn’t mean we must be serious. Perhaps you prefer your wisdom served with a side of humor or the spice of irony.
Whatever way you decide to serve up your delicious moralizing through verse, I’m excited to be invited back to host once in a blue moon and can’t wait to read your responses!
If you are new, here’s how to join us:
*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.
Thank you Anna! – Grace
About our guest host: Dr. Anna Montgomery is a poet, painter, singer, and the Operations Director for Green Chemistry and Commerce Council.