Pic courtesy Unsplash

Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song.” —Pam Brown

Hello everyone! Today is my dad’s birthday. Had he been alive, he would have been 94. He passed away at the relatively young age of 59.

Clichéd though it may sound, he was a loving husband, a devoted father and a favourite uncle, yet he had his flaws too. My siblings and I have a treasure trove of happy memories of him. The not so happy ones, erased with time.

When we were growing up, we lived in an upcoming steel city which had only two cinema halls. Only one of them would show a movie in English language or with English subtitles every Sunday for the morning show. Dad would make sure to take us kids most Sundays to give us a taste of world cinema. My love for reading comes from him. I was his trusty assistant whether he fixed fuses or the iron, changed bulbs or repaired furniture. I could go on and on….

Pic courtesy Unsplash

The memories, of a loving or not, perhaps protective or over protective, sometimes absent or over powering, often idealized or demonized man—loom large in poems about fathers.

Many poets have used poetry as a way to pay tribute to their fathers or to mourn them, like Anne Sexton in  All the Pretty Ones.

“This is the yellow scrapbook that you began

the year I was born; as crackling now and wrinkly  

as tobacco leaves: clippings where Hoover outran  

the Democrats, wiggling his dry finger at me

and Prohibition; news where the Hindenburg went…” 

James Wright talks about an emotionally unavailable father in Youth.

“My father toiled fifty years

At Hazel-Atlas Glass,

Caught among girders that smash the kneecaps

Of dumb honyaks.

Did he shudder with hatred in the cold shadow of grease?  

Maybe. But my brother and I do know

He came home as quiet as the evening.”

Daddy by Sylvia Plath uses emotional, and sometimes, painful metaphors to depict the poet’s own opinion of her father.

“Daddy, I have had to kill you.

You died before I had time—

Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,

Ghastly statue with one gray toe

Big as a Frisco seal.”

Roethke, in My Papa’s Waltz whose rhythm echoes of a waltz, recalls the time he danced with his father in their kitchen.

“We romped until the pans

Slid from the kitchen shelf;

My mother’s countenance

Could not unfrown itself.”

William Carlos Williams shares in Danse Russe what it is to be a lone male in a household of women.

“if I in my north room

dance naked, grotesquely before my mirror

waving my shirt round my head.”

I hope these poems will inspire you to look at the dynamics between a father and his child. For more inspiration, there is always Dylan Thomas’s Do not go gentle into that good night.

 The challenge

So, you must have gathered, today we are going to write about fathers. Whether you want to write about your father, a fictional father or yourself as a father, is up to you. The father you write about can be an ordinary dad, a demigod or a demon. To help you along I am sharing titles of some songs about fathers. Please use at least three in your poem on father. Use the title as is, though of course you can break the title or use punctuation if required but do not insert any word.

1. Dance with my father: Luther Vandross

2. Song for dad: Keith Urban

3. My father’s eyes: Eric Clapton

4. Papa don’t preach: Madonna

5. Daddy lessons: Beyonce and Dixie Chicks

6. Color him father: The Winstons

7. Daddy could swear, I declare: Gladys Knight and the Pips

8. Baby father: Sade

9. My old man: Mac Demarco

10. Father to son: Queen

11. Papa, can you hear me?: Barbara Streisand

12. Daddy’s hands: Holly Dunn

13. My father’s house: Bruce Springsteen

14. Papa don’t take no mess: James Brown

15. Your daddy loves you: Gil Scot-Heron

After you have written the poem and posted on your blog, please click on Mr. Linky here and share the link to your post. You can link your poem till Thursday 2 pm EST. Do come back to read and comment on other posts. We are a community of poets who come here to share, read and offer constructive feedback.