Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sunday Mini Challenge - Goodness Gracious!


A few weeks ago, President Obama delivered a eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of nine African-Americans shot down at a bible study meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Don’t worry.  This is not a political prompt.

President Obama’s speech focused, remarkably, on the concept of grace.  This is perhaps not remarkable for a eulogy, but it is pretty extraordinary in a speech by a sitting U.S. president.  He talked specifically about the religious idea of grace, what he called “the free and benevolent favor of God.”  He even, to the astonishment and joy of the mourners, sang (acapella until the organ joined in) the hymn “Amazing Grace.” 

Don’t worry--this is also not a religious prompt.  But the idea of grace has been on my mind since President Obama's speech and I ask you today to use "grace" as a springboard for a poem. 

As always, I mean for this prompt to be as open as possible. Do not feel bound to write about a spiritual or religious idea of grace.  (Of course, you can.)   But also feel free to think of the concept of grace in non-religious terms--as, for example, a sudden opening or spaciousness.  You could also write about the physical idea of grace--a graceful person or gesture. 



You could write about saving graces, coups to grace, Grace Kelly, the Toads’ own wonderful Grace, who posts at Everyday Amazing.  Of course, you can write about the  gracelessness!   



Finally, do not feel compelled to use the word “grace."  

When I was thinking of a poem to illustrate this concept, I kept returning to a sonnet that I remembered reading in my college years.  When I finally found the poem, it seemed, superficially, to have little to do with conventional ideas of grace, and yet it still felt right to me.  Here it is, written by Rainer Maria Rilke,  translated by Stephen Mitchell:

Going Blind

She sat just like the others at the table.
But on second glance, she seemed to hold her cup
a little differently as she picked it up.
She smiled once.  It was almost painful.

And when they finished and it was time to stand
and slowly, as chance selected them, they left
and moved through many rooms (they talked and laughed),
I saw her.  She was moving far behind

the others, absorbed, like someone who will soon
have to sing before a large assembly;
upon her eyes, which were radiant with joy,
light played as on the surface of a pool.

She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way;
And yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.





So, grace!  

Re Rilke and Stephen Mitchell--no copyright infringement intended.  I urge you to buy one of Rilke’s books with Mitchell’s absolutely terrific translations. And re Obama, if you have any interest in American culture, I urge you to watch the speech.

Mostly, I urge you to feel free to be your full self writing a poem today or in the coming days. 


Finally, finally, I did not realize till this morning that it was Toads 4th Anniversary and also Mandela Day--I send both congratulations and heartfelt thanks to Kerry O'Connor for all her work and her example. 

And now, for optional musical accompaniment (and for Shay), here's Emmylou Harris.  (Note that all the pics are mine--the top one the detail of a light sculpture by my husband, Jason Martin.  Do feel free to use one with proper attribution to me Karin Gustafson, a/k/a Manicddaily and (agh) Outlawyer and to Jason Martin, if you use the light sculpture.)










35 comments:

Outlawyer said...

PS -- Sorry--when this was first posted I had somehow included about a zillion Mr. Linky's. I think that may come from editing on all of the computer, iPhone and iPad (where I had various pics.) Sorry! k.

Marian said...

Hi Karin, thank you. I love this prompt. I have been thinking about "grace" since listening to the eulogy, too. Got some very non-poetic stuff I must work on but will attempt to let some of those ideas bubble up and participate here later this weekend. xoxo

Marian said...

P.S. Actually I think we should all write poems about Grace from Everyday Amazing. !!!!! :)

Outlawyer said...

Ha! Yes! Thanks. k.

Magaly Guerrero said...

I wasn't going to write anything today, but how can one stay still when someone else asks for "grace" in such a way? Thank you for this prompt. It's wonderfully appropriate today... these days, I guess. ♥

Outlawyer said...

Thank you, Magaly.

hedgewitch said...

A very inspiring presentation of your challenge, Karin. While I am still a bit groggy, I have done what I could--excuse the length!

Outlawyer said...

I haven't visited yet, but would note that mine is too long! k.

Fireblossom said...

Emmylou!!!!!!!

Isadora Gruye said...

Great submissions so far...let me noodle this one out. I shall return with an offering.

Outlawyer said...

I look forward to it Izzy! k.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Yes, grace. Wonderful! I was so moved by Obama's lapsing into song.......what a graceful man he is. I adore him and hate to see him leave office. (Up here people can govern forever, even when they do it poorly. Sigh.)I am about to leave town but will write to this, even if I do it from where I am visiting.........I may be late. But I LOVE this prompt so much!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

It would be cool to write about Grace......once at writers group, we all wrote about one of the girls, who came in late and was so flushed, embarrassed and pleased when we read her our offerings. Cool idea! I may put a footnote on my poem, just for her, LOL.

Outlawyer said...

Have a great trip, Sherry. Will look forward to your offering! k.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Hey everyone,

Well I thought about what Marian said above, its a wonderful idea!! So yeah sharing my poem "Ode to Grace" dedicated to Grace aka Heaven :D

Thank you Karin for this lovely opportunity :D

Lots of love,
Sanaa

Outlawyer said...

Thanks, Sanaa.

Ella said...

A wonderful idea~ Sorry, I have been away~ I went to another state to visit my son! I just got home~

Grace said...

Did I hear and see my name??? Thanks Karin for the lovely prompt ~

And thanking everyone who thought of my name, ha ~

Happy weekend everyone ~

Outlawyer said...

Hi Grace, Ella! k.

Jim said...

I like your "Going Blind" poem selection, K. I watched my father go blind. That is what the males in our family have to look forward to at older age. My great grandfather was blind, I remember him, Blind Grandpa, playing his organ. I expect about eight to ten years before I am blind.
I will not be writing a 'Gracie' poem today, we are in the process of moving, boxes all over the house and more to come tomorrow. Mine would have been along the Gracie Allen line, I loved her radio acting.
..

Margaret said...

... this was not an easy challenge for me. Pondered it all day. Gave it my best shot. Thanks for prodding us in directions we wouldn't normally take!

Outlawyer said...

Hey Jim--I am so sorry to hear about your family genetics. Maybe modern medicine can help? I have very poor eye sight too, so I hope it can.

Margaret, I look forward to reading yours. k.

hedgewitch said...

Meant to say earlier I just love the elephants you gave us with this!

Outlawyer said...

Ah, thanks. k.

Fireblossom said...

Yes! Elephants! And Pearl, too!

angieinspired said...

Mine is more of a diary note from summer camp than a poem, perhaps, but i wanted to write it down.

Outlawyer said...

Thank you, Angie--much enjoyed. k.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I really enjoyed reading your prompt, Karin. Much food for thought here. My time is no longer my own as I return to work tomorrow to begin the busy third school term but I shall keep these ideas in mind for a future piece of writing. Thank you.

Outlawyer said...

Thanks, Kerry. So sorry that you don't have a longer vacation! But good luck with your school term. k.

Helen said...

Karin, just want to tell you how much I enjoy Monday mornings and your weekly dose of poetry. "In The Blink" .. "Found" .. "Talking of Shorter Days" were a joy to read. This line in "Found" resonated 'grace more the gift of caring than carrying -- the gift of somehow lifting up one’s self.' Still living life on the road, Minneapolis tomorrow for one week, followed by NYC for four days, St. Louis for one week. I am actually looking forward to being a homebody soon.

Hannah said...

Thank you, for the challenge, K!

manicddaily said...

Thanks so much, Helen, Hannah too.

Helen--good luck getting home! k.

Other Mary said...

This is great Karin, thank you! I'm really late with posting and I won't be able to read until tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to it! And thank you for mentioning Mandela Day!

Outlawyer said...

You are very welcome, Mary. K.

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Saya sangat bersyukur atas rahmat yg diberikan kepada saya dibulan ini karna alhamdulillah melalui MBAH RAWAIRE saya sekaran sudah bisa sukses atas nomor yg diberikan kepada saya dan saya yg dulunya cuma seorang TKW dari singapur yg gajinya tidak pernah mencukupi kebutuhan keluarga saya dikampun dan alhamdulillah berkat bantuan MBAH RAWAIRE kini saya sudah bisa pulang kampun,saya bersama keluarga dikampun sudah punya usaha sendiri dan saya tidak pernah menyanka kalau saya bisah seperti ini,jika anda ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi MBAH RAWAIRE di nomor 085-316-106-111...karna alhamdulillah saya menan nomor togel dari MBAH dan kalau uang indonesia 750 juta,,ini bukan rekayasa dari saya dari IBU RISKA.untuk lebih lenkapnya silahkan buka SITUS MBAH RAWAIRE