Sunday, January 10, 2021


It all began when I was discussing the sounds that instruments make as expressed by onomatopoeia. While we have rather simple expressions such as "tootle" for the flute or "rum pum pum" for the drum, I couldn't think of any word that would reveal the mellow tone of the French horn, and when I went on the internet to research it further, there apparently was nothing. From there we wandered into other onomatopoeias and my oldest granddaughter, who is not quite 21, said there is a word in Korean that is similar to an onomatopoeia, "banjjak banjjak," that means sparkle or twinkle. Since I love anything that sparkles or twinkles or shines, I immediately fell in love with the word. It had something mesmerizing about it. I had already picked my word for the year (this was the first time I ever did this, but I decided I was tired of New Year's Resolutions and much preferred a word  to give me a focus for my hopes and dreams for 2021). My word for the year is "create," but I then decided that "banjjak banjjak" is the effect I hope to have on both myself and others who experience what I create. Then I plunged into a new poem that I hoped would express both the experience and the desire that seem to be poured into that word and sound.

At first, I just titled the poem "Banjjak banjjak," but eventually I decided that I needed to intrigue the reader but not bewilder them, because I doubt that I have a large readership who speak Korean. I changed the title to "SPARKLING ON THE ROAD TO 21," since I owe the departure on this whole poetic adventure to my granddaughter who is on her own adventure to becoming 21.

The first version was very bland, almost prose, but it was an effort to get my ideas on paper, in lines, and in a first poetic attempt.  Very often, these first versions almost put me off from doing anything further with what I've written.  They frequently seem simplistic, puerile, and superficial.  What I've learned over the years is that they are like the marble Michelangelo had that he turned into David. Although Michelangelo always seemed to know exactly where he was going--he allowed the marble to speak to him--I just have to believe that there is a more finished poetic form hidden beneath the bland words and awkward phrasing.  

I begin by marking off the line endings since what I have come to recognize as my voice is that every line has another rhyme or slant or inexact rhyme somewhere else in the poem.  Sometimes I discover a couplet as I am writing the poem, but most of the time, I have to rework the line or change the final word in order to sychronize the whole poem.  This is where the excitement begins--looking for a word that will work, that will bring the poem to a new height, that will exactly express what I want it to.  Often I can reach that in a second draft, but more often it takes three or more to work everything in. And some poems have lain dormant for years before I've felt up to tackling them. Now that I have taken "create" as my word for 2021 I have worked more intensely just in the week or so since 2021 began to craft better poems out of the ones I scribbled down in the last few weeks, and I believe that I am going to create amazing, sparkling writing as I delve into the new year.

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