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Poppies in October

Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.

Nor the woman in the ambulance

Whose red heart blooms through her coat so astoundingly –

 

A gift, a love gift

Utterly unasked for

By a sky

 

Palely and flamily

Igniting its carbon monoxides, by eyes

Dulled to a halt under bowlers.

 

O my god, what am I

That these late mouths should cry open

In a forest of frost, in a dawn of cornflowers.

 

~ Sylvia Plath, from Collected Poems (HarperCollins, 1992)

 

"Oriental Poppies" by Laura Muntz Lyall (1860-1930)

“Oriental Poppies” by Laura Muntz Lyall (1860-1930)

With the first of November just around the corner, writers everywhere are stockpiling food and saying farewell to their family and friends as they prepare to hole up in their writing caves until December 1. November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, an annual internet-based creative writing event that challenges participants to write a new 50,000-word novel in thirty days.

The project was founded by Chris Baty in 1999 with twenty-one participants, and the official NaNoWriMo website was launched the following year. The number of registered participants has grown steadily every year, and the affiliate Young Writers Program and official podcast were developed in 2005.  In 2010, over 200,000 writers registered for the challenge, and nearly three billion new words were written.  A summer version of NaNoWriMo (Camp NaNoWriMo) was introduced in 2011.

Many of us in Chapman University’s MFA program have impending thesis deadlines, and the NaNoWriMo challenge gives us the perfect opportunity and support to complete this critical component of our degree requirements, particularly if we have decided to start a new project for the thesis or complete a novel rather than a collection of short stories.

The novel can be on any theme and in any genre. However, it cannot be a project already in progress.  Writing of the new novel cannot have commenced prior to midnight on November 1, and the 50,000-word mark must be reached by 11:59 p.m. on November 30.

For a comprehensive list of FAQs and guidelines, visit the website at www.nanowrimo.org.

Have fun, and good luck!

 

NaNoWriMo

The Ghost

SOFTLY as brown-eyed Angels rove

I will return to thy alcove,

And glide upon the night to thee,

Treading the shadows silently.

 

And I will give to thee, my own,

Kisses as icy as the moon,

And the caresses of a snake

Cold gliding in the thorny brake.

 

And when returns the livid morn

Thou shalt find all my place forlorn

And chilly, till the falling night.

 

Others would rule by tenderness

Over thy life and youthfulness,

But I would conquer thee by fright!

 

~ Charles Baudelaire

 

"William and Margaret from Percy's 'Reliques of Ancient English Poetry'" by Joseph Wright of Derby, circa 1785

“William and Margaret from Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry” by Joseph Wright of Derby, circa 1785

Falltime

Gold of a ripe oat straw, gold of a southwest moon,

Canada-thistle blue and flimmering larkspur blue,

Tomatoes shining in the October sun with red hearts,

Shining five and six in a row on a wooden fence,

Why do you keep wishes on your faces all day long,

Wishes like women with half-forgotten lovers going to new cities?

What is there for you in the birds, the birds, the birds crying down

     on the north wind in September – acres of birds spotting the

     air going south?

 

Is there something finished?  And some new beginning on the way?

 

                                                                           ~ Carl Sandburg

 

"Oat Field" by Karl Nordstrom, 1887

“Oat Field” by Karl Nordstrom, 1887

Autumn Song

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf

How the heart feels a languid grief

     Laid on it for a covering,

     And how sleep seems a goodly thing

In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

 

And how the swift beat of the brain

Falters because it is in vain,

     In Autumn at the fall of the leaf

     Knowest thou not? and how the chief

Of joys seems – not to suffer pain?

 

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf

How the soul feels like a dried sheaf

     Bound up at length for harvesting,

     And how death seems a comely thing

In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

 

         ~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 

"Falling Leaves" by Philip de Laszlo, 1895

“Falling Leaves” by Philip de Laszlo, 1895

StoryQuarterly is currently accepting submissions to its Fourth Annual Fiction Prize.  The winner will receive $1,000, and the first and second runners-up will receive $500 and $250, respectively.  All three winners will be published in StoryQuarterly 48.  The online submission deadline is October 31.

Founded in 1975, StoryQuarterly has been publishing the literary fiction of emerging and established writers for over thirty years.  The journal welcomes short stories, short shorts, novel excerpts, and creative nonfiction up to 6,250 words.  Its contributors’ work has been selected for inclusion in annual collections such as The Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading anthologies.

For more information about StoryQuarterly and to submit online, visit the website at https://storyquarterly.submittable.com/submit.

 

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The Love of October

A child looking at ruins grows younger

but cold

and wants to wake to a new name

I have been younger in October

than in all the months of spring

walnut and may leaves the color

of shoulders at the end of summer

a month that has been to the mountain

and become light there

the long grass lies pointing uphill

even in death for a reason

that none of us knows

and the wren laughs in the early shade now

come again shining glance in your good time

naked air late morning

my love is for lightness

of touch foot feather

the day is yet one more yellow leaf

and without turning I kiss the light

by an old well on the last of the month

gathering wild rose hips

in the sun.

 

                   ~ W. S. Merwin

 

"A Wooded Path in Autumn" by Hans Andersen Brendekilde, 1902

“A Wooded Path in Autumn” by Hans Andersen Brendekilde, 1902

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