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An original pantoum

A while back, I got an email from one of my sister poetry princesses, Liz Garton Scanlon, asking if I and the others wanted to write another form together as a project. You can read more of that story over at Laura Purdie Salas's post, since she is not only rounding us up, but is doing the Poetry Friday roundup.

The form we chose is the pantoum, a Malaysian form involving internal repetition. We all had to use a line from an Ani DeFranco song - the line is "I've got better things to do than survive". As I said when I sent this off to the others, that line never really spoke to me. What could be better than surviving? Isn't a prerequisite for everything else? I really wanted it to be "I've got better things to do than JUST survive", so I could assume it meant that thriving was the goal, and getting by wasn't good enough, but I had to work with what was there. So I did, and here is the result:

On My List
by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

I've got better things to do
than survive; I get along
as best as I can --
so many things are on my list.

I survive, getting along
day after day.
Too many things on my to-do list
to ever catch up with, complete.

Day after day,
I start to question why
I try to catch up or complete
so many pointless tasks.

I stop my questioning
as best I can.
So many pointless tasks--
I've got better things to do.

I hope you'll read the pantoums by the other poetry princesses here - and be on the lookout for that Ani DeFranco line:

Laura Purdie Salas
Sara Lewis Holmes
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Andromeda Jazmon Sibley
Tanita S. Davis
Liz Garton Scanlon

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( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Laura Shovan
Oct. 11th, 2013 11:03 am (UTC)
Ani DeFranco
Hi, Kelly. What a great idea to use a short lyric as a repeating line. I like your poem's short lines -- fitting for the subject of busy-ness.
Oct. 11th, 2013 02:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Ani DeFranco
Thanks, Laura - it was Liz Scanlon's idea, so of COURSE it was a great idea to all use one line in common!
Oct. 11th, 2013 12:44 pm (UTC)
thank you!
So glad you played along even if it wasn't a favorite line :)
The poem's lovely...
Oct. 11th, 2013 02:09 pm (UTC)
Re: thank you!
It made the challenge more of a challenge, but more satisfying when conquered. Or something. So glad you organized us!
Oct. 11th, 2013 01:07 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, those pointless tasks . . . enjoyed how you played with the form, Kelly.
Oct. 11th, 2013 02:10 pm (UTC)
Pantoums are best for slightly obsessive topics, and fretting over what must be done seemed like a good fit!
Andi Sibley
Oct. 11th, 2013 01:32 pm (UTC)
So glad you played along Kelly! Your poem is smart and well-aimed. I'm taking it to heart.
Oct. 11th, 2013 02:10 pm (UTC)
Many hugs to you, Andi!
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Oct. 11th, 2013 06:21 pm (UTC)
I love the notion of the pantoum as a form for obsessive topics. I suppose the repetition does lend itself to this. While the line didn't speak to me either, your poem does. It describes where I am right now in life. Constantly chasing an endless "to do" list.

I love how you split the lyric in your first stanza. I too have better things to do. Writing poetry with you folks is one of them.
Oct. 11th, 2013 10:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Pantoum!
I am glad the poem spoke to you, though I'm also a bit sorry for that - I know you have a lot on your plate!
Oct. 11th, 2013 08:12 pm (UTC)
Like Laura Shovan, I love how short your lines are--in your vampire pantoum, too! I tried to do that when I sat down to write mine, but I just couldn't manage it! That line didn't speak to you, but your poem definitely speaks to me and my busy life. :>)

--Laura Purdie Salas, who can't comment on LJ blogs anymore!

Edited at 2013-10-11 08:15 pm (UTC)
Oct. 11th, 2013 10:44 pm (UTC)
You can always comment. Just not from your (canceled, I take it) LJ account!
Oct. 11th, 2013 08:32 pm (UTC)
Love this, Kelly!
Oct. 11th, 2013 10:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Amy!
Oct. 12th, 2013 09:46 am (UTC)
It's so good to have your voice back in the PF roundup! I miss you!

Your poem rings particularly true to me right now. You have described my life, my to-do list. I think you did a good job capturing the sense of not wanting to JUST survive that you wished had been in the line.

--Mary Lee
Oct. 14th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks, Mary Lee! I try to remember to get to PF, but as you can tell, don't usually make it. I will, however, keep trying!
Oct. 13th, 2013 03:25 am (UTC)
Great pantouminizing! So many things to do...and most of them really pointless! Pantoums are such a fun and challenging format. Nice job.
Oct. 14th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Oct. 13th, 2013 11:09 pm (UTC)
I like how you circumvented the challenge in your unique way, and the poem has the drive and power and punch of that. Wonderful.
Oct. 14th, 2013 09:07 pm (UTC)
That's me - rogue pantoumizer. But thank you for the compliment, Jeannine - it means a lot, coming from you!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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