Describe Joy #SOL19 10/31

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He copied the phrase
into his agenda
Wednesday, February 6
“Décris la joie.”
Describe joy.
After Math.
Before Reading.

Décris la joie.
Describe how wonder is suddenly more necessary than air
when I check on him before I sleep.
The silk of his hair
The satin of his skin
The even slip of his breath.

Décris la joie.
Describe the way my heart seizes and jumps
when they bound in after playing outside.
The whirl of the air
The whoosh of their hugs
The carefree wildness of their laughter.

I ask
Have you done your homework?
Yes, he says,
It was easy.

Reflection on my process:
I originally jotted this exchange down when the assignment came home. I kept coming back to it, and tried to write it as a humorous piece because it made me laugh out loud when it happened. It sort of worked as a funny bit, but there wasn’t much to it.

I hesitated to turn it into a poem, but decided to take the plunge because Slice of Life writing is, in part, about learning to become better writers. If I can’t try new things in this supportive community, when will I try them? Also, it’s the weekend, so I had some time to work on this if I wanted.

The first and last stanzas came easily because they are what literally happened. I nearly published the poem like that, but I know I tend to cut my poems off at the knees by not offering enough development. The middle two stanzas then, were my attempt to show how hard it is for me to describe joy. I made some of the lines longer because I wanted them to reflect the complex nature of the task. I let the sensory details be shorter because, in the end, they seemed to me to be the essence of the feeling.

In the end, I don’t love it, but I like it. I’m still a nervous poet, but I like how this combines the humour of the initial situation with the complexity of the thought behind it. I’m not sure I love the middle two stanzas, but I’m glad I pushed myself to add them. And hey, maybe I’ll try another poem or two this month. We shall see.

 

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26 thoughts on “Describe Joy #SOL19 10/31

  1. Your poem builds from a tone of normalcy to the sublime. The observations set on paper offer a subtle commentary on joy. We do t need to say “joy is…” We can merely gaze in it in the lives of those we love. I glad you did not go the total humorous route w/ this one.

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  2. I love that you included notes on your process for this poem. You are very much the model student and the teacher in this post! Seriously, though, it is really a great and helpful idea to include your thought process for your writing. SOL is the perfect place to experiment with new genres of writing and to hone your skills. The second stanza is my favourite, btw. 🙂

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  3. The middle two stanzas are the meat of this poem, the meaning for which you live and write. The other parts, the assignment, were the instrument for playing your true song. Don’t ever shy away from truth that wants to be told. Keep writing.

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  4. Kudos for trying a new thing! Contrast of your take & your son’s play off each other well.

    As for cutting off poems at their knees,
    sometimes there’s something to be said for ellipses…

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  5. I love the joyful feeling in this poem especially the lines: The whirl of the air
    The whoosh of their hugs
    The carefree wildness of their laughter.
    Thank you also for including your process. It helped me understand your thinking.
    By the way – I think you are way too humble – this poem is wonderful.

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  6. I’m thrilled you took the plunge to craft a poem AND that you shared it. It is beautiful. It made me weepy since I was thinking about all of the ways I could describe the joy I arrive from my children. Thanks for the inspiration, Amanda.

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  7. Yeah, Amanda! So glad you shared your poem and the backstory. The juxtaposition of quiet sleep (stanza 2) and boundless energy (stanza 3) is wonderful.

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  8. Bravo!! Your poem is so clever, and it is beautifully evocative of a mother’s feeling for her child. “After math. Before reading.”-I love how joy gets sandwiched between the mundane and how you effortlessly captured that in these two lines. My favorite part, however, is when you admit to cutting your poems “off at the knees”. It just makes me giggle, and it’s exactly what I do all.the.time. Sigh. I did the opposite tonight-wrote in prose (good heavens!), so I’m feeling the discomfort of dabbling in a not-oft-used style.

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