Today’s prompt turned out more mysterious than intended. The post that we all waited for was not posted as scheduled since yesterday the NaPoWriMo site was hacked. I took my father’s idea and wrote a poem to the hacker. Thank you, dad!
Prompt 27: “In today’s (optional) prompt, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. The entries are very vivid – maybe too vivid! But perhaps one of the sorrows will strike a chord with you, or even get you thinking about defining an in-between, minor, haunting feeling that you have, and that does not yet have a name.“
At first, in my case at 6 am, we only got one line on Twitter and Facebook: “Today’s prompt asks you to get in touch with some minor, haunting feelings.” When the full prompt above finally appeared, my poem had already been written, but I did infiltrate into it one entry from the dictionary.
To an unknown hacker You have lost your compass. Rich on the inside, poets make poor targets. Just as the month is almost done and our routines established, – each one is different, depending on location – you knock down our favourite site for a few hours. The next day, because of you, instead of the full site with features, daily readings and examples we get one sentence elsewhere. But bits by poets, so many poets, come in despite, and we click on this, and comment on that, and fail to read each single one no matter how we wish to, and it makes us feel much less alone, more connected, more well read and more well written, and we get this major haunting feeling that it is going to be okay, that we are in lilo* together, and that next year we meet again right here on this site which neither you nor any of your relatives will succeed in hacking. Why? Because what we know, possess, and are able to do is a surprise even to ourselves.
*lilo: n. a friendship that can lie dormant for years only to pick right back up instantly, as if no time had passed since you last saw each other (Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows).
Before he gets busted: Amore is NOT a hacker. I repeat. He is NOT a hacker. He just likes to assemble stuff. I’m fully untechnical and images like these, in order of acquisition, make me a bit nervous and fully incredulous how something like this can bring into my life all of you with your poems and kind words. Thank you all so much, including technology.
This day in my NaPoWriMo history (2019): By coincidence, I wrote two sonnets on this day two years in a row. The first one was assembled from the last five Shakespeare’s sonnets. The post was entitled The day pears got shaken, and the sonnet was introduced by this little thing:
There once was a girl in Toscana who thought she can do what she wanna: grab hold of a bard, shake up his vocab and run while his pears cry for Mama.
And this is the sonnet. I should call it XLV (155th), seeing that Shakespeare wrote 154 of them.
Thy worst all best exceeds Love: the general of hot desire, gentle cheater, poor drudge that in my mind is too young to know love-kindling fire to be what conscience is, proud of this pride. To stand in thy affairs, flesh born of love, betraying deep oaths of thy deep kindness, was vowing new hate after new bed-vow. Healthful remedy gave eyes to blindness. For I have sworn thee fair but found no cure against strange maladies, powerful might from holy fire of Love still to endure, which men prove foul – a lie to my true sight. To keep thy love, thy truth, thy constancy, my vows are oaths of insufficiency.
This day in my NaPoWriMo history (2020): The next year, for an unusual review, I chose the daily resource: a signature book of Harvard University lecturers, in which many are left anonymous. I recognised one and it made me angry enough for a (vaguely Petrarchan) sonnet.
If I can do it Is Harvard not what once it was? I wonder, perusing this strange book that lies before me with question-marks where there should clearly not be, and unknown signatures. What gives? I ponder. They took a goat’s skin for this ledger – sorry – dyed it to match with blended scratches under, retained the spine, rebacked it, and not squander with missing names some of old Harvard’s glory? I know it ‘fore I’m done: One name – I’ll know it. It’s then that I spot Charles Simic fondly, friend and translator of my favourite poet. And lo! Penult’mate page! Lest they have conned me… It is! I spot an “Š”. Make it a sonnet, says Šalamun. I grin and write it promptly.