Jun 03

The Great Poets Challenge

[Art: Alden Bond, YWP]
Hey YWP, you might know me on the site as Nightheart. I want to introduce you to some great poets I've discovered – from all walks of life. June's Poet is Allen Ginsberg, one of the Beat Poets (See more below.) Learn about their style, their themes, their contributions to the poetry landscape. Gain inspiration from the topics that they choose to write about, and become inspired by some of their most famous poems! Write to the Great Poets challenge if you're inspired by these poets' work. The poets are organized by months, but you can write about any of the poets anytime in this ongoing challenge.

JUNE 2021 – Hey poets! Happy Pride Month! In honour of pride month, I've chosen one of the most influential LGBT poets of the 20th century to be this month's poet. The extraordinary poet Allen Ginsberg was one of the Beat Poets, a generation of poets and writers including the likes of Jack Kerouac who challenged the idea that poetry had to be written with a certain poetic meter, and what exactly was acceptable content for a poem. Ginsberg was very involved in politics, and participated regularly in protests against the Vietnam War. Ginsberg was openly gay during a very dangerous time, and his words still ring true with queer people all over the world today. 
A Supermarket in California-https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47660/a-supermarket-in-california
Apr 16

it's been a year

Maybe it's been a year, 
I know this house like 
The lines of my mothers face now.
My life is contained 
Inside four walls, five rooms 
And three bathrooms, specifically, 
A projector in the basement 
That we made exactly a year ago.
I don’t know what else to tell you 
Except that my cat likes to 
Sleep next to the couch in a cardboard box
With glittery purple tissue paper inside. 
Please know that this is not a metaphor
For my loneliness, I don’t need metaphors
To make my loneliness palatable now, 
I just want to tell you that I am sick of my bed
And the glow of my computer screen. 
I bury myself under my old interests 
Like a worn out blanket, hoping against hope 
There’s some joy that I can pull out
Of this threadbare garment. Blankets used to keep me warm, 
But now I'm just using them to keep the cold out. 
I want you to know that this poem is not a metaphor
Mar 24

marie curie

Marie curie’s grief is buried 
In a lead-lined coffin, 
Thick and unyielding 
The taste of dirt on her tongue 

I want to dig her up and ask her 
How to get over the things you love 
Breaking you open and carving 
Out your guts, 

How long is fifteen hundred years? 
How long is a lifetime? 
How long is long enough to wait
So that the thing that you slaved over half your life 
Will stop rotting inside of you, 
Like an apple gone soft in the flickering kitchen light. 

I want to ask Marie Curie 
Whether her grief made her glow green in the night, 
Whether she can still feel the vomit
At the back of her throat, i want to 
Wipe her tears while she cries even if 
They come out glowing like a string of little suns in the sky, 

Our fate was to be forgotten, 
I read it in the keys between my fingers 
And your husbands name on that grand prize, 
Feb 01

The Great Poets Challenge

Jan 17

your poem

I am trying to write a poem about a tree, 
I look outside and there it is, another tree,
There are trees everywhere, really,
Can you tell that i have never been good at writing
What other people want me to write? 
My pen wanders away before i can corral it,
Always directions to go other than the one I have chosen. 

Right. Back to the tree. Let’s imagine our tree, shall we? 
Imagine our tree stretching up, stretching down,
It must be painful for the tree to be constantly stretched 
Out like that. Am I using simile? Metaphor? Personification? 
Am I comparing the tree to me? You decide. After all, 
It is your poem. No, i insist. Take it. It’s all I have left to give. 

Never mind the devices, let’s talk about cutting down the tree,
Lets talk about feeling the wood splinter 
Underneath your fingers, and running your hand over 
Rings upong rings, 
Jan 08
poem challenge: Spoken

an open letter

(Inspired by Allen Ginsberg) 

America, you’re scaring me. America, it’s not funny to turn out the lights like that. 
America my mom told me you’re fragile. America, there’s a man with buffalo skin dancing 
At the edge of my eyes. America, I wish this was a joke. America, how does it feel
To have so many people put faith in you? America, how does it feel to fall so hard? America, 
Did you build that wall that you told me you were gonna build? America can you stop 
Trying to kill me it kind of hurts. America my teacher said that when someone upsets me 
I should ask why they did it. America, why did you do it? America, you're being selfish. 
America if this is heaven I wonder what hell is like. America, if a man with a gun came 
Into my classroom, would you save me? No, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. America, 
I’m not going to school anyways, there’s this virus that kills people. America you don’t 
Jan 06
poem challenge: Insurrection

Matar (to kill)

I am doing history homework 
when I watch the Capitol fall. 
                  (Ironic, isn't it? History always repeats itself.) 

We were trying to watch the 
electoral votes being counted and suddenly 
a push           no a wave 
of red, exclamations about gas masks 
and armed rioters and for a second 
I thought we had been transported 
right back to where we came from.
                  (God! my mother exclaims. It reminds me of Iran!
Please tell me what to do.
I am fifteen years old and I am watching 
democracy burning, burning. 
I am fifteen and I am watching a red man sprawled over
the vice-president's seat, confident. 
                  (It's funny, the smoke kind of smells like spit & passion, 
                   like hurt & tears, like treason & smashed glass.) 
There are pictures, guns drawn 
and I watch the news anchors repeating 
Dec 23

to love a villain

The girl is the most beautiful thing 
You have ever seen, oh she gleams like the knife that 
Your dai used to cut up the lambs on eid e ghorban with, would you 
Sacrifice yourself when she asked you to? 
You can remember your grandmother's voice telling you 
Stories older than you will ever be , but remember that the girl is no Abraham, 
And you are not her son, but sometimes you wonder 
How quickly she would agree to give you up for 
Something greater, something more like God,

Is it a crime? She asks you, 
And you don’t have the heart to tell her yes, 
If that is red on the floor then 
Everyday with her is Christmas, you start locking the door 
And checking it, just in case, tell me, 
Do you think she’d stop if you had told her yes

Is it not murder to love so deeply, to 
Kill our wants over and over again 
For the smile on someone else’s face?
Nov 28


does it anger you, i wonder, 
when i do not write of prejudice? 

I think perhaps you love devouring my words, 
but only when they are about you, 

what is american culture but masochism, 
after all, we are rife with pain. 

does it please you, when you see your aging portrait 
hanging in the back of my poems? 

this is not a reenactment of dorian gray, 
or at least i hope it isn't, i hope you won't turn around 

and stab me when your portrait gets too ugly 
for even your own love of ugliness, 

you sins to monstrous for even 
the most devoted of lovers. 

but the knife is already buried, and at this point, 
you just enjoy watching us scrabble at it, 

so true, you nod, while we scream about the pain of it.
so heartwrenching, you say, while we're curled up on the floor. 

does it bore you, i wonder, 
Nov 19

to all the mothers that came before me

Mother,    your heart is a tragedy, 
& your family tree a well of pain. 
I think all daughters inherit their wounds 
From their mothers before them.
Gaping gashes are our inheritance,
The currency of our survival. 

Mother,         i am picking
At the bruises and scabs on my skin
They are the very same patterns that 
I traced on your body when i was a child, 
They say beauty is pain, but they neglected to mention
That only poetry can make pain beautiful,
And my pen has run dry. 

Mother,           we are something so ugly
Turned so, so good. We are the warmth 
Of an open fire and the welts it leaves on your skin, 
We are the brilliance of a sudden spark
And the darkness that is left after it, mother, 
Albert Camus said that beauty drives us to despair,
& you are living with no hope in your eyes.  

Mother,    i am a language that you can’t read,