Saturday, October 13, 2007

Totally Optional Prompt by Liu' Chang-ch'ing

This week's prompt is a poem from an old paperback that is written in Chinese. The only English is the translated poems and the title, 'Three Hundred Poems of the Tang Dynasty'. The Tang Dynasty dated from 618 to 906. Since I don't read Chinese the only other thing I can say about the book is that it has a red cover. The translations and typos suggest to me that English was not the translator's first language. It's a book with character that I treasure.

On Hearing a Lute-Player

Your seven strings are like the voice
Of a cold wind in the pines,
Singing old beloved songs
Which no one cares for any more.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Tiel and I sent messages announcing 'Totally Optional Prompts' to a lot of people and places. No doubt we missed a few, so please invite anyone who hasn't shown up yet. After all, more poets makes life more interesting.

Remarks on the prompt, your latest discovery, or this 'poetry exchange' blog, can be made as comments to this posting. Late Wednesday night, between Letterman and Conan O'Brien, I'll post a Request For Poems, where you can leave a link to your poem inspired by the prompt, or any other poem you want to share.


Anonymous said...

I have left a message at some places. Next week the hoard should arrive. It is not bad for a first week. Writers Island to is going great.

Glad we are converging yet again at one place!

Great going.

Lest I forget, another great prompt!

Cassiopeia Rises said...

Again, the prompt is vague. I understand what you want but you should say this is the prompt. Quoting poetic translations means nothing to me. I read many poets work and know when the "The Tang Dynasty" ruled and ended as I have many examples of what they left behind. I minored in History and majored in Art...
I see that you made the prompt in darker letters for us stupid people.

Much thanks-bd

Anonymous said...

I admit that I was confused by the prompts at first too, and initially wasn't sure that this format would work for me, but I'm finding that I just love working with a short poem as the prompt rather than a single word or phrase - it's a different creative experience for me, and it is just lovely to be introduced to these poems. I hope this form of prompting continues, though perhaps with some clarification about poem-as-prompt, using it as inspiration rather than the other kinds of prompts some of us are more used to.

Keep up the good work! I'm excited about the community that is forming here. :)

Jone said...

I will attempt to write for this week. I have been swamped. Thrilled that this is up and running.

Anonymous said...

TGR: Thanks for you comment. My experience has been that single-word prompts are usually followed by a paragraph or two of explanation and interpretation, and are therefore not single-word prompts at all. Presenting a poem allows the writer to respond to the title, any line or phrase, or the theme of the poem. I maliciously resist interpreting the poem, I don't want to substitute my interpretation for the poem itself. This not only allows me to share the poems I enjoy but also learn how other people respond to them.

Modern writers don't seem to write short, it's usually more like a Ginsberg Brain Dump. That means I'll pretty quickly run out of poems-as-prompts, and any prompt suggestions will be greatly appreciated. As far as how long the poems-as-prompts will continue is a little up in the air. I agreed to do the prompts for October, after that depends on the boss, Tiel, and her faithful assistant, me.

Jone: If activities are getting in the way of writing then it's time to rearrange priorities (please note tongue firmly planted cheek).

Mad Kane said...

I'm a musician, so I particularly like this prompt! Thanks!

Mad Kane

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love the 'poem as prompt' idea. There are so many creative possibilities to it. It's also so different from the other prompts that are out there, which all seem to focus on the one word or short phrase.

Christine Gail said...

I hope I am doing this right. Here is the link to my response to this prompt

Norma said...

I just found T.O.P. and have planned one for this week's prompt. If links to the poem are left in Mr. Linky they disappear, don't they the next time you use it, plus we have to post twice if leaving a comment. I've stopped using it on my blog.

Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

Norma: what happens with Linky is that older posts, instead of displaying the list of links, display a message that says:

"This site is using Auto-Linkies. Click here to display the links for this post."

and if you click on the word "here" you get to see all the links. So they don't really disappear, it's just one extra step to get to them (just as if they were in the comments section).

Anonymous said...

Hi all, although this I am posting as a way to share all a very different thing which I tried yesterday night.
Just wanted to share it. Do tell me, how was the treatment of the subject.

Arash: An Adaptation

The Soul and The Witness

Cassiopeia Rises said...

OK, you win..... This time around I loved both the PROMPT and the poetry. Yes modern poets are different and long winded but poets like William Carlos Williams and Plath, Langston H etc. have much to offer and teach,,,,
I hope to read some wonderful poetry at TOP'S. I was wrong in my posts as it was I who did not take the time to read and understand what you wanted.
I would hope that I am forgiven. Poetry is my life, I both breath and exhale words. I am glad to post here. When and where can I read the the poems....