NaPoWriMo 2021, Day 0

Ladle, circa 1850, Chinook, Native American, on view at the Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 746

And just like that, spring came back when winter was getting a tad too long in the tooth and she brought NaPoWriMo along with her. Many thanks to Maureen Thorson for gathering us together once more. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I honor this month that has always filled me with hope, the month of my birth. Looking forward to reconnecting with other poets, many of whom I haven’t seen or read in a year. Here’s to NaPoWriMoing together, fellow poets–may this spring bring you joy and renewal!

Below are a few photos of what spring looks like here, in Lausanne, and below that, today’s prompt and my response.

Today’s early-bird prompt challenges us “to spend a few minutes looking for a piece of art that interests you in the online galleries of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. […] After you’ve selected your piece, study the photographs and the accompanying text. And then – write a poem! Maybe about who you imagine making the piece, or using it. Or how it wound up in the museum? Or even the life of the person who wrote the text about the piece – perhaps the Met has a windowless basement full of graduate students churning out artwork descriptions – who knows?” (Full prompt available here.)

I chose to write about the ladle pictured at the top of the page and, intent on being respectful of the Chinook culture, did some research and learned a number of fascinating things in the process. There’s more to learn for sure and I blame my current ignorance for any historical details I may have gotten wrong. I’m providing a quick list of references I used below. Also, the beginning of the poem borrows a couple of things from Mary Ruefle’s “28 Short Lectures”, which was another delectable resource NaPoWriMo offered us today.

Quick references about Chinook Culture:
Chinook history
Facts about the Chinook Tribe
The Oregon History Project: Chinookan canoes
The Native American Potlatch
The Oregon History Project: Chinookan Head Flattening


PS–As in past years, most of the poems written this April will remain online for a couple of days, after which they will be replaced by an excerpt, an erasure, or a thoroughly amateurish art piece that will only allow for bits of the original poem to peek through. At least, this is the plan. The reason being that, at some point, in the hopefully not too distant future, these drafts will undergo revision and begin their multiple-year pilgrimage through the slush piles of many a literary journal. So help me, O Muse. (OK, I totally plagiarized my own post scriptum from last year. Why amend something if it’s not broken?)


PPS–The posted poem has expired, but here’s a mysterious creature to keep you company (and a line from my poem as caption). I think it’s a raccoon, but I don’t mind if you see something else.

Being an artist is not remotely useful, unlike fishing.

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