Poem? — Maw

We all seek refuge.

Refuge from the storm that rages outside.

Outside, there is nothing but howling.

Howling. Yes. But worse still is that most call it home.

Home is where we find Ourselves… and for those that are lost, well…

Well. We don’t all make it.

It is tragic, then, that this cave we have found… Can we really call it a cave?

‘Cave’ often implies some shelter. But this place… It provides none.

None would ever live here willingly, yet few that do ever leave.

“Leave?” they ask. “But there is comfort in suffering. And that storm outside rages on.”

On moist beds, they sleep. Telling themselves that things simply are the way they are.

Are they blind? These stalagmites aren’t rock. They are made of bone. They are… Teeth.

Teeth that hiss with hunger. It hungers for our flesh.

Flesh is no shield to the maw of this leviathan. And its thirst is eternal.

Eternal… Like the war it wages with that storm. Who is to blame for more lives lost?

Lost souls end up here not by choice. But the end comes for us all.

All who find themselves here reach a truth, though.

Though the storm is less lethal, the maw is a quick, painless death.

…And who are we to deny its embrace?

Story — This is Ketha

You there! Yes, you! What, you think I’m talking to these vagabonds? No, just look at the way they’re dressed! You’re obviously not from around here, judging by the, well, everything about you. Care for a song? I’ll only charge three taps.

What, haven’t you got any money? You weren’t robbed once you got off the boat, were you? I’d imagine somebody would have warned you about that. Well, you don’t have to stare so blankly at me. I’m a bard, not a servant. You think I’m carrying this lyre around to floss? Now, run along, and mind your shoes. The truly desperate will wrestle them off you if you aren’t wary.

Well? What are you staring at me for? I can’t help you if you haven’t got any money. If I didn’t charge per song I’d be out of business within a week. No, I don’t get a lot of business around these parts, as you’d imagine. Mostly your sort: travelers that can actually afford the leisure. Speaking of, were there others on the boat you came on? Perhaps a song could attract some attention. Just don’t tell anyone you got this one for free, got it?


 

A man may see here beggars

Strewn all about the street

But I, no– I see treasure

Who have no coin to eat

It wasn’t always like this

This conclave of the poor

But often luck can run amiss

And it’s gone dry along this shore

But this is no song of poverty

This land to one attunes

This is an Archon’s property:

The Spirit of the Dunes

 


That shadow there, up in the sky

It leaves the wind in short supply

That half-dome shelters everyone

And under it, there is no sun!

Outside the cities there is sand

And in that sand you’ll find no man

The cities are your safest bet

The beggars here, they are no threat

This, oh guest, is Ketha

The land of burning gold


 

There’s magic here, yes that is true

But Kethan’s cannot craft anew

They need fire, water, earth, and such

Without these things, they can’t do much!

But with those tools they should be feared

One candle flame and a field is cleared

The Archon, Keht, he could do more!

Entire kingdoms he did floor!

This, good sir, is Ketha

The land of strength untold

 


You may wonder, why not leave?

What could we possibly receive?

But to us, this is our home

If not this place, where would we roam?

The lucky few can flourish here

Otherwise cities would disappear

Struggle breeds greatness, as they say

So we’re all strong in our own way

This, dear friend, is Ketha

The land where dreams unfold


We’re not all beggars, not all thieves

Is a man not anything he believes?

Nobody is a giver here

There isn’t even a river near!

We’re not all thieves, but I sure am

This humble song is just a scam

I’ve got your purse–you are too kind!

Maybe next time you won’t be so blind

This, poor fool, is Ketha

The land where lies are told

Prompt — Wordsmiths

The two men stood on opposite ends of the basin. The best champion each rival nation had to offer. The fate of those nations would be decided today.

As one, the soldiers stepped into the basin, approaching each other. They wore armor of leather and chain-mail, but neither carried a weapon.

“We meet again, old friend!” the larger of the two said to another as they got within earshot. Barlen the Painter, as they called him. The many scars on his face did nothing to undermine his jovial demeanor.

“So it seems,” his colleague replied. Pelleas: the master of the arts, by now pushing seventy. While he hadn’t had as many victories in battle as the Painter had, his experience had left him undefeated. “I suppose we will find out once and for all who is the better wordsmith.”

Barlen nodded. “It has been an honor to have known you, friend, and may honor favor the victor.”

Pelleas smiled. “Honor favor the victor, Barlen.”

At that, the two left the center of the basin to claim positions further back, just within shouting range.

“Let’s see you put your title to work!” Pelleas yelled to Barlen. “I would have you call the first song.”

“Very well!” the Painter yelled back. “Defend yourself if you can!”

At that, Barlen extended his hands outwards, arms outstretched as wide as they could go. Then, he began to chant.

“Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.”

The first sign of a successful summons was the hooves. Like rolling thunder, a swarm of cavalry approached the end of the bluff. Knights in glowing armor upon unarmored horses, equipped with lances and sabres.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.”

The Light Brigade stormed down the hillside, crashing over the grass and rocks like a wave of light flooding in and painting the landscape with liquid gold. They flew past Barlen, and he vanished into the cacophony. A summons couldn’t hurt the wordsmith, so he had nothing to fear.

“Very impressive indeed, old friend,” Palleas mumbled. “I’m not sure even I can face the mighty Light Brigade.” After a slow exhale, he threw his palms out ahead of him.

“And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!”

At his summons, a gray-green wood sprouted from the ground. The trees grew taller and taller, and as it grew wider, a black, hulking beast with scales and evil wings emerged from the forest, growling with an intense severity. It’s eyes blazed with an indiscriminate hatred, and it locked its gaze on the incoming cavalry.

 

Prompt: Warrior-Poets, champions whose magical abilities manifest based on the poetry they read in battle, prepare to go to war.

Learning! — Writing Basics (315)

When people get into writing, whatever the genre, there’s a lot to consider. Obviously, since it’s an entire field of study and there’s so many ways things that are important, it can be a little daunting for some people! That being said, let me talk about a few things an aspiring author might want to consider when tackling their first project, be it a novel, fanfiction, whatever.

First things first, the most important thing is to write. It should be obvious, but it’s worth saying. You can’t just do hundreds of hours of research and then write a pristine novel. That’s just not how it works. To write quality stuff, you need practice.

The upside of that, is that you can learn so much from just writing. Practice will make you intuitively learn how to write better, and while research and actively learning things is important, practice can show you those things firsthand.

So, since you need a lot of practice, you need to find out a way to make it as enjoyable as possible. Just write down whatever you want to write about. If you’ve got this awesome battle-climax at the end of a novel in your head, but you’re not quite sure how the characters get to that point, who cares? Write that battle! It doesn’t have to be good to anyone else. You’ll enjoy writing it because those characters can be doing awesome things in your head. In the end, that’s what’s important when you’re practicing. You don’t have to worry about whether those awesome things are being translated into other people’s heads, too.

Once you get some stuff written, you may or may not want people to read it. Either way, that’s fine! In my personal experience, you shouldn’t expect pretty much anyone to actually read it. A lot of people feign interest or respond positively to your stuff to be polite, but nobody wants to read your stuff. Heck, nobody wants to read my stuff. But again, that’s fine. Remember, your primary goal is to practice and learn how to put sentences together properly. Trust me, it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

When you’re going back to edit the stuff that you’ve written, there’s actually more than one way to edit things. Very generally speaking, there’s what I call “line editing” vs. “content editing”. Line editing is going and cleaning up the actual words. Fixing sentences and changing descriptions to make the words on the page more cohesive. Content editing is going back, changing, adding, removing actual parts of the story to be more consistent, remove continuity errors, add dialogue, that sort of thing.

For an aspiring author, it’s important to learn both of these. Learn what grammar mistakes you have a habit of making, or learn where your weak points are in story structure (mine is setting descriptions). Honestly, though, don’t worry about making rigorous edits to stuff you’ve written. Your primary focus should simply be to get more written! You need to know what your weaknesses are, though, so you can write stuff with that sort of thing in mind. If you know you’re bad at giving descriptions of settings, just keep that in mind and remember to be more thorough on the next thing you write. Never get stuck constantly improving the same chapter/story over and over again, because that’s not where true growth lies.

Learning! — Annotating Poems

When I came up with this category of blog post, I intended it to focus on things I understood perfectly the first time, but are difficult concepts for people to grasp, if they ever do at all. (We all know the pain of going into an exam where one of the major topics is completely foreign to you.)

That being said, I accept that my knowledge is limited. I’d have to teach myself some things eventually, to get ideas for blog posts if nothing else. So why not start off with something I myself didn’t understand very well in class?

I asked a friend for the first thing that came to mind in regards to things that are hard to understand. She gave me something that wasn’t even given a full lecture’s worth of time in one of my English classes: annotating poems. Something I actually know very little about. Time to do some reading.

 

To me, it seems as though annotation is utilized as the simplest way to get students to understand the meaning behind a poem and literary devices in general. Perhaps the biggest failing of teaching a class to annotate poetry is the purpose behind it. It shouldn’t be used as a means to teach examples of similes or tone. But annotation isn’t as simple as learning what the poet’s intent was and what devices they used to accomplish it. Annotation is necessary for an instructor to be able to effectively teach a poem. It’s necessary to write an effective essay on a poem. It’s a tool that gives more genuine understanding for a poem than simply looking up the themes and metaphors online would provide.

So, how do you annotate a poem? What does annotating even mean? Well, annotating simply means to write explanatory notes. It’s a note taking process. But before we take notes, you need to read the poem. At least twice, preferably. First, read the poem for the information. “What is happening in the poem?”. Next, read it for the words. How does the poet tell this story? Third, read it out loud. Many poems are intended to be oral. You’ll be surprised at the things you didn’t notice the first two times you read it.

Once you’re familiar with the poem, read it a fourth time. Take notes. Underline everything that seems important, unusual, or just strikes a certain chord with you. Don’t underline things arbitrarily. Write down why you underlined it! If you see a lot of repetition, underline each instance in which its used and make a note of that somewhere that makes sense on the paper. You should actually end up with about as many notes as words in the poem! That’s when you know you’re starting to get at the true meaning behind those words.

I would argue that looking for literary devices is actually the last thing you should do. It’s not to say that it’s the least important, simply the last. That’s because you should already have a good understanding of what the poet has said before you analyze the devices they used to say it. Pretty much all poets choose their words very carefully, but if you don’t understand the point they are trying to make, you can’t figure out the pieces they used to make it.

Annotating poems isn’t difficult, either. It’s a simple process to piece together the poet’s meaning for yourself. You cannot be wrong. You may come to a conclusion that the poet wasn’t aiming for, but the information is still relevant. Many poems operate on several levels of significance. The best way to figure it out on that many levels is to spend some quality time looking at the poem and giving it your full attention. Enjoy it! It can be fun if you let it.

 

Bibliography:

Don’t Hate! Annotate! How to REALLY Annotate a Poem

http://classroom.synonym.com/annotate-poems-4986.html

http://www.brighthubeducation.com/high-school-english-lessons/29131-how-to-annotate-a-poem-class-discussion/