Homage to My Backbone

Poetry Friday logo by Linda Mitchell

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

It’s the last Friday of the month, which means it’s Poetry Sisters time! We wrote poems in the style of Lucille Clifton’s “homage to my hips.” Such a fantastic poem, and so hard for me to write in the style of. That confidence, that swagger…wow. Body image insecurities make it tough to carry that off.

I wrote an ode to my backbone. I was coming at it two ways. First, my back medical issues are increasing, and I wanted to show my spine a bit of appreciation. Second, I’m trying to celebrate my growing assertiveness as a businessperson. As writers, we get ignored, put off, given bad contract terms, etc. In the past six months or so, I’ve had three or four major things where I’ve just kind of thought, “no more.” As a people-pleaser, it’s hard. But sometimes it gets old enough that you’re willing to walk away from a book contract.

Also, this was hard because my poems rely heavily on metaphor and wordplay, and Clifton’s style here is mostly so direct!

Anyway, it’s been a week, with a (expected but still really sad) death in the family, unexpected travel for my husband, and a lot of in-person teaching, even though I’m under the weather. So today, I just give you the draft. Maybe next week, I’ll get it together and share some process :>)

Check out the rest of the Poetry Sisters at:

Mary Lee

Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations.

And our Poetry Friday host, the thoughtful and somehow always comforting Janice Scully, is sharing some beauty and the Picture Perfect Poetry anthology this week. Don’t miss the Roundup!




22 Responses

  1. Laura, I’m sorry to hear about your back issues. Being in pain makes everything harder. I feel strength and resilience in your poem! I’m glad you are standing up for yourself and your writing. This publishing business is so hard. I’m also sorry to hear about the loss of your family member. Even when it is expected, losing a loved one is never easy. Sending lots of hugs your way. xo

  2. I applaud your honesty when talking about the nuts and bolts of the publishing business and the disappointments even for those as successful as you are in so many ways. It takes a strong backbone, pun intended, to be a writer. I enjoyed your poem with such fun details. Also, my condolences for your loss, Laura.

  3. Laura, so sorry for your loss, wishing you and your family peace. Also, so sorry for your back difficulties. Back pain can really permeate everything you do. Your backbone poem makes me appreciate my “stacking of stones” a little bit more. : )

  4. Laura it sounds like you have so much going on — I am sorry for the loss and the hard stuff. But in the midst of that I love your use of the dual meanings of your back bone. Keep standing strong !

  5. I’m sorry it’s been roller coaster of a week and that you are under the weather. I’m also sorry for your loss. As to the poem, I think you’ve done “in the style of” justice, especially with the bit about never standing for disrespect. Nicely done.

  6. I’m sorry you’re navigating so much, pal. And I love what you did here (that stacking of stones, that 33 ways) — both the backbone itself and the strength we need to stand up for ourselves really shines here.…

  7. I feel you on the 33 ways that you know how to say no… So many polite variations on, “Not now, not ever, not even.” I hope it gets easier, and if it does, tell me your secret!!! Meanwhile, as another person with random chronic pain I’m rooting for your stack of stones to straighten up and stay right.

    Meanwhile I hope fond memories comfort you just now.

  8. Yes ma’am, that’s a backbone’s right! You are an inspiration in so many ways, Laura. Sending love. xo

  9. Oh, Laura, I’m sorry for your family’s loss and all the ‘extra’ challenges your backbone holds for you. You’ve surely shown your metaphoric backbone is very strong! It feels as if your poem includes it all poignantly! I love the way you introduced the ‘stacking stones’ — terrific!

  10. Quite perfect that you found a metaphor in the topic, Laura. Love that your backbone won’t stand for disrespect!

  11. Warm thoughts headed your way, Laura. I’ve been through several periods of back issues and I know how difficult it is. Your poem is a wonderful expression of the many things a backbone represents.

  12. Laura, I read your post last night but was too tired to write a comment. I did not have the energy to join #PoetryPals this month. I see that you included a great word choice, and a metaphor in the poem, “…a stacking of stones.
    I’m sorry you are under-the-weather. Take care of your backbone.

  13. My spine, which has no less than four errant curves in every possible dimension says to your spine, “I see you. I FEEL you.” As for your backbone, good onya that it’s getting stronger and more resolute. Fantastic poem.

  14. Laura, I’m so sorry for the loss in your family, and for the back issues you’re dealing with. Back pain affects everything, arrgh. Your homage to your backbone succeeds on both levels. Brava! Here’s to our backbones and to future endeavors that require one!

  15. Sorry for your loss and the back issues. I like the tone of confidence in your poem despite all. Extra hugs as you continue to navigate the ups and downs of the writing business. Thanks for the many books you’ve written over the years. I’ve always admired your tenacity!

  16. I detect a completely appropriate swagger in this…those 33 ways for sure. I’m sorry you’re dealing with health issues and loss…there is never a good time for that. Take care of YOU!

  17. Laura, beautiful way to honor your backbone, in spite of the difficulties. I especially loved: “knows how to say no” Isn’t that the truth? Take care. I hope the poem helps and that next week is not such a week as this one was.

  18. Your backbone has an independent and standup attitude, love its affirmative stance- here’s to keep on rallying onward together, hopefully with less pain, terrific Laura!

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