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Welcome to Poetics!

Yesterday many parts of the world engaged in Halloween festivities. Now we pack away decorations and consume leftover candy. We say goodbye to skeletons, witches and all ghoulish things. However for some, today begins a two day celebration that reunites death with life. How so? The belief is that during this small window of time between midnight on October 31 and November 2, there is no border between the living world and the spirit world. Deceased ancestors are welcomed back as guests of honour for a very special reunion.

Originating in Mexico, this is a lively, colorful event where families honour loved ones who have passed. However, these are not times of sorrow or solemn remembrance, but instead a time to embrace death with acceptance…. even a bit of dark humour.

This is Dia De Los Muertos, the “Day of the Dead”.

Image: Michelle Beauchamp – Day of the Dead Tea Set

This rare celebration consists of traditional street festivals, dancing, live music and food. There are many symbols of death including skulls and skeletons, some made of clay or sugar. These are called calaveras and represent the sweetness of life. Candles and bright marigolds surround photos of loved ones passed. One significant gesture is to make offerings to the departed – their favourite foods, drink, hobbies or toys. These are laid out on ofrendas, alters created at home. The offerings are thought to encourage souls to return for this joyful occasion. Some will write a verse called a literary calavera, a satirical, light hearted poem, poking fun at the deceased.

I had the opportunity to observe the “Day of the Dead” celebrations in Old Mesilla, New Mexico a few years ago while visiting my in-laws. In the center of a plaza, participants danced folklórico style with plastic skeletons wearing costumes, engaging the crowd in a dramatic presentation. I have to say it was captivating and gave me a whole new perspective on death to add to my other ones.

For today’s Poetics, I am asking you to write a poem to commemorate a loved one you have lost. Bring them to life in your words by highlighting the qualities you admire and miss the most about them. If you are comfortable with it, you can add a sprinkling of humour or in the tradition of Dia De Los Muertos, offer up those favourite things that your loved one enjoyed. Celebrate them!

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did watching the event in person.

Here’s how to join in:

  • Write a poem in response to the prompt on your blog or website.
  • Click on Mr. Linky, add your name and the direct url to your poem.
  • Include a link to dVerse so others can find us.
  • Read and comment on the work of other poets.
  • Join us here at the pub to say hello.
  • Have fun!