Friday, July 8, 2016

Poetry Friday -- taking the "in the style of" challenge

or, Riffing on Ryan (hat tip to Sarah Lewis Holmes)

I could not get last Poetry Friday (thank you Tabatha Yeatts) out of my head....or the news of this week. Part of being on summer vacation is catching up with news of my world. And, I am heartsick at all there is to see and pray for these days.

Poets from last Friday's Poetry Friday challenged each other to write a poem in the style of Kay Ryan, poet and US Poet Laureate 2008 -2010. Ryan's compressed style is appealing and much harder to mimic than one (ok, I) first thought.

The mimicry exercise is one of learning to hone, to weed, to sculpt....pilates poetry.

This is a rough attempt at a riff on Ryan's poem Insult which I found here:
"Persimmon Tree." Persimmon Tree. ArtsMart, n.d. Web. 08 July 2016.

As you can see, I am completely absorbed with the tragedies of shootings these past days. I hope my attempt to put into words my thoughts is seen as a grief reaction and respectfully creative. It's very soon to write poems.

Many thanks to Katie Mc Enaney for hosting today's Friday Poetry. Discover poetry with her at: 


-They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal,
warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. -Justice Sonya Sotomayor*

Shooting, the noun,
rips choice away from choosing
to take it personally,
appallingly. When humanity
aims, squeezes, fires
not just at any coal mine canary
suffocated in the dark
but dads selling CDs
boyfriends driving home
with beating--then stopped hearts. Then
officers protecting a peaceful march.
This word, this utterance reminds us that
some nouns are too dangerous, broken, lethal--
that we must say, You must stop this.

(c) Linda Mitchell

*Ford, Matt. "Justice Sotomayor's Ringing Dissent." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 20 June 2016. Web. 08 July 2016.


  1. So powerful, Linda, and so sad. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Powerful, spare and moving. We must stop this.

  3. I keep imagining the "day before" each of the deaths, and how life for those who loved those who were killed changed. This is a loving tribute and cry for other change, too. Thanks, Linda.

  4. Thank you for your thoughtful response, Linda. Now we need poetry more than ever.

  5. you must we must I must they must

    Kay Ryan would say so too, I think.
    Thank you.

  6. Powerful and profound poem in a compact style, Linda. It. Must. Stop. =)

  7. Wow. WHat a powerful response to such a horrible chain of events. Bravo.

  8. Well played. I haven't gotten the "Riffing on Ryan" out of my brain, either. I just haven't had time to sit down and work at it. That Sotomayor quote...ouch.

  9. Powerful poem, Linda. All of your strong "ing" verbs echo like gunshots. The last line really hits home.

  10. Powerful, Linda.
    Thank you for writing this


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!