The November Word of the Month is…

Hi everyone,

As I say every month, and mean it every month, “Where did this past month go?” And, “Thank you for all your poems!”

We started Word of the Month Poetry Challenge in October 2009 so at 12 months per year times 12 years, we’ve completed 144 months of poems. A handful of you have followed the blog that long and some have contributed a poem in almost every month since the beginning. My heartful gratitude for your longtime support and friendship.

Also, as I do each month, I open the beautiful booklet arranged and published by Cory Corrado in 2018, to remind me of all the words we’ve every used as I choose the new one. Cory, I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful gift.

Before Cory came to my rescue, I had inadvertently used the same word twice on six occasions — water, promise, sour, window, may, and renew. For November, for the first time, I’m intentionally choosing a word prompt we’ve used before. The first Word of the Month word, back in October 2009, was DIRT. It turned out to be a lucky choice. We had a number of excellent poems to help kick of what has now become a traditional part of this blog.

I’ll write a new dirt poem this month, but for now here’s the one I did for the original episode of Word of the Month. I’m seldom so wordy. Oh well. And to think that my book that came out in August, THE DIRT BOOK, might have already been fermenting twelve years ago.

DOWN AND DIRTY

I liked you the first time we met,
at least I thought I would like you
if I got to know you,
except for your nails.
I couldn’t help noticing
the foul moon-rims of grime
clutching at your cuticles.

The thought occurred that dirt,
which you like enough
to pack at your fingertips,
might have a poem buried in it.

Honestly, I had little hope for my subject.
It’s hard to hold something in high esteem
that one tracks in on one’s shoes.
Only my respect for you kept me going.

Turns out there’s more
than meets the eye with dirt.
Roots slow-motionly wriggling down
like moles in the dark after water
prize off tiny flecks of bedrock.
Mix enough rock parts with humus
and you’re getting somewhere, dirt-wise.

Humus is a dry gumbo,
the handiwork of dentrivores,
a multiracial gang of ruffians, mostly
fungi, worms, bacteria, mites, and insects –
mercenary goblins that dine on decay,
slurping dead plants and animals

till you could easily mistake diner for dinner.

Thanks to dentrivores, not all dirt
tastes the same. But considering
the supply you keep on hand,
I may not be telling you something
you don’t know.

When you think about dirt,
and I can’t seem to stop,
dirt provides lodging for a zoo
of creatures that grub, grope, and burrow
through its gritty underworld.

Mixed with water dirt fortifies bird nests and
helps mud daubers stick their homes
in annoying places such as
above my garage door.

By contrast, dust courts the corporate crowd.
Swirling like a truant genie,
dust grants wishes to carwash owners
and supports entire industries
of polish, soap, and facial tissue makers,

but I digress. The thing is, I was right
about liking you in spite of your nails
crammed with limestone powder, worm goo,
and the odd molecule of bee leg or roach
(all in a day’s work for humus).

But I can’t resist suggesting that dirt
should stick with dirt and you might consider
returning your private stash to the garden

or perhaps to a trash sack headed to
the dump. Then, I believe,
at least I hope very much, that
I can put down this thing about dirt
and wipe it off of my worry list.

—       (c) 2009 David L Harrison

The word for March Word of the Month Poetry Challenge is…

Hi everyone,

Thank you to all who joined us during February for Word of the Month. We had some exceptional efforts. Kim Jasper posted a strong poem last night and I’m sorry to have to take it (and all February poems) down this morning to make way for March. Kim, I’m leaving yours up for a couple of extra days to give people a chance to see your work. I hope you’ll give us another sample for March.

Speaking of March, the word for this month is TIME. Cory Corrado, you have kept track of all the words we’ve ever used so you’ll know if this is a repeat. I don’t have with me the alphabetized list you were kind enough to send me so if this is a duplicate, in my defense I can only say it feels like time again.

A new twist

Hi everyone,

I met poet Joy Acey Frelinger in 2011 when she attended my Highlights Foundation poetry workshop near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Joy, Jeanne Poland, Ken Slesarik, and Cory Corrado were in the same group and I love it that we’ve all stayed in regular contact over these last eight years. That’s Ken and Joy (in red) in the picture.

Yesterday Joy sent me a note about my contribution to Jane Yolen’s new form, which she has dubbed the Tendrillon. Here’s Joy’s note/suggestion.

“I like your reply poem to Jane’s challenge BUT your ending couplet didn’t make much sense to me. I’d like to suggest for the last line:
I’ll drink martinis, very dry.”

And here’s my response.

“Thanks for the suggested revision. I meant my tongue in cheek ending to smack of irony: after over imbibing on wine for so long, my speaker decides to turn to vodka until he gets all that vine out of his system. Your suggestion changes my meaning but is a clearer solution. I’ll mention this on my blog.”

Sometimes when a writer dashes off a line to reflect his meaning, the result isn’t as clear to his reader as it seems in his mind because he knows what he means to convey and the reader has to be told. This may be a good example of it. The floor is open if you care to add your own thoughts to this example or perhaps to speak in general on the subject of clarity of expression. Thanks, Joy, for creating the teaching/learning moment.

A poem from a special friend

Hi everyone,

Yesterday Cory Corrado, our good friend in Canada, posted a poem inspired by this month’s Word of the Month Poetry Challenge word — celebrate. She added that she began writing W.O.M. poems in October 2009 and this new one is her 109th poem “that would not be if not for this challenge.”

THE CHALLENGE

It began with a word
One four letter word.
No! Not a “dirty” word―
An earthy, ‘clean” word.
A wholesome down to earth word
An inelegant word
A curt matter of fact word
A no-nonsense-straight-shooting, tell-it-like-it-is word
A “soiled” word.

You guessed it!
The ‘face’ that launched thousands.
YESSS! Thousands . . . more priceless than ships.

Almost ten years!
Something to CELEBRATE
Poetry―W.O.M. style

Seems like yesterday . . .
And it all began
with some very fertile
D-I-R-T

Cory Corrado (2019) ©
(Thank you, David)

And I thank you, Cory. We met at my first Highlights Foundation poetry workshop in 2011. I love the picture of you on a swing in the yard of the farmhouse where we held the workshop. That was a great group. We’re still in touch with Jeanne Poland, Ken Slesarik, and Joy Acey.
I did five poetry workshops in Honesdale, most recently in 2016, and appeared as a Skype guest for Larry Brimner in 2015. I occasionally wonder if I should offer another one, but my friends, Georgia Heard and Rebecca Dotlich, do a stellar job each year and I doubt that two poetry workshops are needed. I’m glad for the ones I did, though, and have many great friends and memories to treasure.

Word of the month for July is . . .

Hi everyone,

I choose this month’s word challenge with confidence that I won’t screw up and name a word used previously. Know why? Because of Cory Corrado, that’s why!

Just look at the lovely gift she has sent me, a booklet listing every word I’ve used since the beginning in 2009. They’re listed alphabetically! And she included a printout of all words by month and year, in which it’s apparent that on five occasions I have indeed reused a word.

So here is the all new, never ever used before Word of the Month word for July! It is FRESH.

Go for it, ladies and gentlemen!