“Buckled Bricks” and Poetry Friday Roundup!

Happy Poetry Friday!

I’m making this post live Thursday evening for all you early-birds. Please put your links in Mr. Linky at the bottom of the post. And also click on Mr. Linky to see and visit all of the other Poetry Friday posts. I am away today presenting at the Minnesota Library Association annual conference (Whee! I’m’so excited!), which means it will probably be at least this weekend before I can visit everyone.

A couple of months ago, Liz Garton Scanlon rallied the Poetry 7 (aka Poetry Princesses) to another group challenge. We’ve done a few before, including a crown sonnet?(holy cow), villanelles, and rondeau redoubles. This time, it started with: “You guys. I miss you. I miss writing group poems. Do any of you have any interest in, say, a Crown Sonnet? I would love to try one again.…”

After a bunch of shuffling and vague murmurings, we decided we’d each write a pantoum (read Kelly’s explanation of a pantoum here) incorporating the line “I’ve got better things to do than survive,” from Ani DiFranco’s song “Swandive.” Which I have never heard but need to go listen to now!

So, we each retreated to our own lives again, gripping that one line, hanging on for dear life to the form of the pantoum and the promise we had made to each other. And we wrote. It was a challenge–7 women with 7 crazy lives, juggling situations full of joy and heartbreak. I was so proud that we each produced a poem! And today, we’re sharing them. It’s really fun to take the same form and the same line and see the 7 totally different directions we took it in.

My poem is below, and here are the links to the rest of the group’s pantoums. Some of these are the links to their main blogs–they will add their post-specific links inside Mr. Linky. Either way, you won’t want to miss their pantoums on topics ranging from an early morning run to our overextended lives, each one revealing something of the poet herself. Hooray for poetry and for small, tangled knots of people that don’t even get to chat very regularly but still create an atmosphere where we can all take a few risks :>)

Tanita S. Davis- The Mother Load
Kelly Fineman- On My List
Sara Holmes- A Pantoum
Tricia Stohr-Hunt- She Runs
Liz Garton Scanlon- And This, and This
Andromeda Jazmon Sibley- Moth Sisters

Jan Palach Memorial in Prague

My poem is called Buckled Bricks. When Randy and I were in Prague this summer, we saw the memorial to Jan Palach, and for some reason, that’s what came to mind when I decided to write about something from that trip. Yup–so much joy and laughter on that trip, and I wrote about self-immolation. Oi. I wrote this poem one night when I was at Starbucks with my daughter Maddie, weeks before the recent horrifying incident on the National Mall. (Just in case you’re wondering if this was inspired by more recent events.) It still needs work, and I hope to go back to it in the future for some revision.

Buckled Bricks

(a pantoum for Jan Palach, Czech protestor against Soviet invasion who committed suicide by self-immolation in 1969)

 

I never will get out of this alive.

And that’s the way it has to be.

I’ve got better things to do than survive.

What good is life if we cannot be free?

 

Is that the way it had to be?

Catch attention as a human torch?

What good is life if we cannot be free?

Does freedom come with cost of scar and scorch?

 

Catch attention as a human torch?

A son of Prague, a voice, a brother gone.

Does freedom come with cost of scar and scorch?

How long  til Soviet armies were withdrawn?

 

A son of Prague, a voice, a brother gone.

Just buckled bricks that mark the spot he burned.

How long  til Soviet armies were withdrawn?

Besides the grief, what lessons have we learned?

 

Just buckled bricks to mark the spot I burned.

I never would get out of there alive.

Besides the grief, the lesson that I learned:

I had better things to do than to survive.

–Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

 

128 Responses

  1. It’s funny how our inspiration takes us where it will! The reasons why may be unclear, but who cares if we can come up with something like this! So powerful, Laura. I’m looking forward to checking out the other 6 “princesses” tomorrow.

  2. It’s funny how our inspiration takes us where it will! The reasons why may be unclear, but who cares if we can come up with something like this! So powerful, Laura. I’m looking forward to checking out the other 6 “princesses” tomorrow.

  3. Wow, powerful and moving, Laura. Good to have the Poetry Princesses back!

    This week I’m sharing “How to Get Through a Day When All The Talk is of War” by new-to-me-poet Sharon Auberle (my link goes live at 6 EDT).

    Thanks for hosting — have a good time at the Conference!

  4. Wow, powerful and moving, Laura. Good to have the Poetry Princesses back!

    This week I’m sharing “How to Get Through a Day When All The Talk is of War” by new-to-me-poet Sharon Auberle (my link goes live at 6 EDT).

    Thanks for hosting — have a good time at the Conference!

  5. Hi, Laura. I love the concept of having better things to do than surviving. A poem in Jan Palach’s voice is a way of continuing the discussion — what does it mean when a person stages a protest with his or her own life?

    1. Exactly, Laura. I haven’t even figured out my own opinion–but it’s interesting to think about. From my reply to Betsy below: “Was he incredibly brave? Foolish? Short-sighted? Desperate? I never quite know what to make of these extreme acts of protest/sacrifice. Are they the ultimate sacrifice, or are they the almost easy way out for someone who feels things are not going to change. Sigh.”

  6. Hi, Laura. I love the concept of having better things to do than surviving. A poem in Jan Palach’s voice is a way of continuing the discussion — what does it mean when a person stages a protest with his or her own life?

    1. Exactly, Laura. I haven’t even figured out my own opinion–but it’s interesting to think about. From my reply to Betsy below: “Was he incredibly brave? Foolish? Short-sighted? Desperate? I never quite know what to make of these extreme acts of protest/sacrifice. Are they the ultimate sacrifice, or are they the almost easy way out for someone who feels things are not going to change. Sigh.”

  7. Whew. Form really packs some weight here, Laura. That last line…wow. Thank you for hosting today. At The Poem Farm, I have a small memory poem. Time, how it goes… xo

    1. Thank you, Amy. Loved your poem, too, as always! P.S. Can you remind me what program you use to do your audio recordings? I want to give that another try…

  8. Whew. Form really packs some weight here, Laura. That last line…wow. Thank you for hosting today. At The Poem Farm, I have a small memory poem. Time, how it goes… xo

    1. Thank you, Amy. Loved your poem, too, as always! P.S. Can you remind me what program you use to do your audio recordings? I want to give that another try…

  9. What a striking memorial–buckled bricks. You paid a worthy tribute to the man, too, with your poem. Brava. My posts will be up after midnight. Have fun at the conference.

  10. What a striking memorial–buckled bricks. You paid a worthy tribute to the man, too, with your poem. Brava. My posts will be up after midnight. Have fun at the conference.

  11. Beautifully written, I love the way pantoums emphasize the important parts, but engaging instead of constant repetition. It is interesting that your mind took you to that time on your vacation because of this line. I know I’ll enjoy all the others-great that you all did this!

  12. Beautifully written, I love the way pantoums emphasize the important parts, but engaging instead of constant repetition. It is interesting that your mind took you to that time on your vacation because of this line. I know I’ll enjoy all the others-great that you all did this!

  13. Here’s another WOW. I can’t wait to read all of the rest. Would you ladies ever consider self-publishing a collection of your Poetry Princess challenges? It would be lovely to have them all in one place.

    1. Thank you, Mary Lee. The rest are spectacular–such a varied group of people. I love the idea of collecting our little projects more cohesively, but time and intimidation work against us for that. Time to pull them together in a nice presentation, of course. And the intimidation–well, half of why we manage to do this (barely!) is that we don’t commit to sharing them publicly until we’re all done, and then we support each other so much. A couple of the poets are so sophisticated that it’s very intimidating to imagine sharing the work as one piece, implying that it’s all of equal level. YOu know what I mean? I find that intimidating, even though I’m fine with sharing it here on my blog and saying, “Well, this is what I came up with…” It’s kind of you to suggest it, though, and it would be fun to create some kind of online home, even, where each project lives with all the poems in their entirety. Hmmm…

  14. Here’s another WOW. I can’t wait to read all of the rest. Would you ladies ever consider self-publishing a collection of your Poetry Princess challenges? It would be lovely to have them all in one place.

    1. Thank you, Mary Lee. The rest are spectacular–such a varied group of people. I love the idea of collecting our little projects more cohesively, but time and intimidation work against us for that. Time to pull them together in a nice presentation, of course. And the intimidation–well, half of why we manage to do this (barely!) is that we don’t commit to sharing them publicly until we’re all done, and then we support each other so much. A couple of the poets are so sophisticated that it’s very intimidating to imagine sharing the work as one piece, implying that it’s all of equal level. YOu know what I mean? I find that intimidating, even though I’m fine with sharing it here on my blog and saying, “Well, this is what I came up with…” It’s kind of you to suggest it, though, and it would be fun to create some kind of online home, even, where each project lives with all the poems in their entirety. Hmmm…

  15. I am caught up in those last lines. It makes me pause a bit and wonder. Very powerful words shared here today.

    1. I wonder too, Betsy. Was he incredibly brave? Foolish? Short-sighted? Desperate? I never quite know what to make of these extreme acts of protest/sacrifice. Are they the ultimate sacrifice, or are they the almost easy way out for someone who feels things are not going to change. Sigh.

  16. I am caught up in those last lines. It makes me pause a bit and wonder. Very powerful words shared here today.

    1. I wonder too, Betsy. Was he incredibly brave? Foolish? Short-sighted? Desperate? I never quite know what to make of these extreme acts of protest/sacrifice. Are they the ultimate sacrifice, or are they the almost easy way out for someone who feels things are not going to change. Sigh.

  17. What a wonderful form the pantoum is — like waves on a seashore, coming in over and over. Thanks for posting it, Laura, and for hosting Poetry Friday. Over at The Drift Record I’m celebrating Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize by going 100% Canadian with the song “Hallelujah,” written by Leonard Cohen (Canadian!), and sung by k.d. lang (Canadian!)

  18. What a wonderful form the pantoum is — like waves on a seashore, coming in over and over. Thanks for posting it, Laura, and for hosting Poetry Friday. Over at The Drift Record I’m celebrating Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize by going 100% Canadian with the song “Hallelujah,” written by Leonard Cohen (Canadian!), and sung by k.d. lang (Canadian!)

  19. Pantoums are so good for death poems when understanding the death is difficult. Great use of form. Your execution is excellent. Thank you for writing this and for sharing it.

    1. Thanks, Joy–I appreciate the kind words. I agree about pantoums and grief. The form can be so meditative, so it’s good for pondering hard topics.

  20. Pantoums are so good for death poems when understanding the death is difficult. Great use of form. Your execution is excellent. Thank you for writing this and for sharing it.

    1. Thanks, Joy–I appreciate the kind words. I agree about pantoums and grief. The form can be so meditative, so it’s good for pondering hard topics.

    1. Thanks, Donna. Tricky to repeat and try to make it new. Some of the other Poetry 7 were definitely better at that, but I enjoyed working on it:>)

    1. Thanks, Donna. Tricky to repeat and try to make it new. Some of the other Poetry 7 were definitely better at that, but I enjoyed working on it:>)

  21. As always, I can’t figure out which of yours I like the best. I’m always drawn to the gloomy poetry, but I loved your otters, so much!

    The stark imagery of this poem — and of the photograph of the memorial — is going to stick with me forever.

    1. Thank you, Tanita. Me, too, on the sticking with me… The memorial is just there in the ground, with people unknowingly walking right over it. It’s not all that noticeable in person, if the area is crowded. That’s what really struck me, I think. I felt like an imposter writing this, because I did it with only the barest of research into Palach, so it’s really a work of complete fiction. But I enjoyed (in my own gloomy way) putting myself in his head.

  22. As always, I can’t figure out which of yours I like the best. I’m always drawn to the gloomy poetry, but I loved your otters, so much!

    The stark imagery of this poem — and of the photograph of the memorial — is going to stick with me forever.

    1. Thank you, Tanita. Me, too, on the sticking with me… The memorial is just there in the ground, with people unknowingly walking right over it. It’s not all that noticeable in person, if the area is crowded. That’s what really struck me, I think. I felt like an imposter writing this, because I did it with only the barest of research into Palach, so it’s really a work of complete fiction. But I enjoyed (in my own gloomy way) putting myself in his head.

  23. I’m with Tanita on loving the otter poem, but this one is heartbreakingly good. It packs quite a wallop when you read it. I think Palach’s voice is what makes this, and what does me in.

    Thank you for rounding us all up and for sharing!

    1. THanks, Tricia–I felt like my roundup should have been MUCH more insightful and personal. Oi. I’ll be sharing the otter poem next week, probably:>) It was kind of fun to write.

  24. I’m with Tanita on loving the otter poem, but this one is heartbreakingly good. It packs quite a wallop when you read it. I think Palach’s voice is what makes this, and what does me in.

    Thank you for rounding us all up and for sharing!

    1. THanks, Tricia–I felt like my roundup should have been MUCH more insightful and personal. Oi. I’ll be sharing the otter poem next week, probably:>) It was kind of fun to write.

  25. I hope I’m not too late! I have the Mortimer Minute today at my blog. Thank you for hosting! I’m rushing off to do a million more things before I can go home, and I’ll be back later this weekend to read everyone’s posts.

  26. I hope I’m not too late! I have the Mortimer Minute today at my blog. Thank you for hosting! I’m rushing off to do a million more things before I can go home, and I’ll be back later this weekend to read everyone’s posts.

  27. Laurie, your pantoum is amazing! “I’ve got better things to do than survive” is such a powerful line. I agree with Mary Lee, the “Poetry Princesses” should publish all your wonderful poems. Thanks for hosting the Round Up today!

    1. Thanks! It would be fun to gather our poems in a closer, more cohesive way. Time–if only there were more of it! Thanks for coming by!

  28. Laurie, your pantoum is amazing! “I’ve got better things to do than survive” is such a powerful line. I agree with Mary Lee, the “Poetry Princesses” should publish all your wonderful poems. Thanks for hosting the Round Up today!

    1. Thanks! It would be fun to gather our poems in a closer, more cohesive way. Time–if only there were more of it! Thanks for coming by!

  29. Hi, Laura. Thanks for hosting today, and I enjoyed your meaningful poem. I always love stopping by Poetry Friday because I learn so many new things — today it was what a pantoum is!

  30. Hi, Laura. Thanks for hosting today, and I enjoyed your meaningful poem. I always love stopping by Poetry Friday because I learn so many new things — today it was what a pantoum is!

  31. Started with Tanita’s take on motherhood, then went to Liz’s pair. Both thought provoking and excellent use of the form, but yours somehow resonates for me. Makes me wonder how long it WAS before the Soviets withdrew…
    Thank you

    1. Thanks, Elle. Twenty years later, in 1989, there were demonstrations in memory of Palach and his cause. It was called “Palach Week,” and was considered (as I understand it, anyway, given my limited research) a turning point and one of the things that led to the fall of Communism in Czechoslavakia within the year.

  32. Started with Tanita’s take on motherhood, then went to Liz’s pair. Both thought provoking and excellent use of the form, but yours somehow resonates for me. Makes me wonder how long it WAS before the Soviets withdrew…
    Thank you

    1. Thanks, Elle. Twenty years later, in 1989, there were demonstrations in memory of Palach and his cause. It was called “Palach Week,” and was considered (as I understand it, anyway, given my limited research) a turning point and one of the things that led to the fall of Communism in Czechoslavakia within the year.

  33. I’m finally finishing reading the PF posts from last week, just in time to start thinking about this week! Thanks for hosting, and for your haunting pantoum.

  34. I’m finally finishing reading the PF posts from last week, just in time to start thinking about this week! Thanks for hosting, and for your haunting pantoum.

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