The other week, Angela Yurko Smith, editor at Space and Time magazine, put a call out for writers to contribute a line to her revolution-themed exquisite corpse poem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exquisite_corpse).
Having followed news of those powerful protests in Hong Kong against the imposition of extradition laws which allows those in Hong Kong to be extradited to China, I chose to write something reflecting current affairs. Protestors were seen marching with umbrellas and the umbrella has pretty much become a symbol of that protest. Whilst this is a protest and not exactly revolution, it could lead to more and that’s where the reference to the ‘velvet hands’ came in – a nod to the ‘Velvet Revolution’ in Czechoslovakia in 1989. I do not need to explain the dragon.
My line came out as:
‘umbrellas form a shield wall, held by velvet hands, to stand against a dragon’
In this, I wanted to show how something as flimsy and everyday as the umbrella can become a powerful symbol against an aggressor. Reading the rest of the poem, there is a similar juxtaposition of something regarded as lesser, weaker, rising up against those who would crush them ‘but still it rises’ and in fighting against an oppressor, so ‘re-evolution’ begins. It’s heartening to see that from over twenty different voices came an overwhelming expression of the power of the human spirit in the face of tyranny.
Why did I join in with this exercise involving only one line?
As a writer who is often left waiting for results of publication submissions, who works on pieces that take weeks and months to complete, it is refreshing to find something else to do in between these more marathon tasks. I already take part in Visual Verse’s monthly call – and you will find all my published work in that forum here – which challenges you to write 50-500 words of prose or poetry in an hour. I do this pretty much as soon as the image has been released on the 1st of the month and as a matter of honour, do not take longer than the allotted time.
Now I’ve got another little monthly challenge.
But why poetry?
I have written, and had some poetry published, and it is very much a form in which I feel at ease, particularly in the way I am allowed to play with language to create an image or feeling. Often something serious or dark will emerge from these efforts but I have so much fun in their creation. I can ignore rules, I can ignore punctuation, I can do what I want. Poetry is my break from the weight of a novel’s structure, the pacing and voice of a short story, the tyranny of grammar.
Poetry is my playground.
Poetry is time to play.