Thursday, February 22, 2024

Open for poetry business

I fell in love with her because I thought she was the first feminist. Second, because she was a philosopher, an artist, a writer, and she was trying through literature to humanize the king and men around her.
~Hanan al-Shaykh on Scheherazade

Happy Poetry Friday! The round-up is here! Thanks for joining me.

I wondered if I use the word "open" (my OLW 2024) a lot when I write poems so I checked and yes, I do! Here's a poem I found from 2013 that I'm not sure I showed anyone? Let me know if you feel like you've seen it before.

Scheherazade comes from The Thousand and One Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights). She marries a king who, to avoid being betrayed, kills his brides the day after their wedding. Scheherazade avoids this dire fate by telling him stories that end with cliffhangers. "The king kept Scheherazade alive day by day, as he eagerly anticipated the conclusion of each previous night's story."

by Tabatha Yeatts

At the open door
she forces herself to enter his room,
lifting up her anchor
to launch into his turbulent waters.
She expects to ride the caliph's moods
holding on with both hands,
but she staggers,
loses her balance,
until she calms her chills
at the sight of his unkempt beard,
the wild sweat that beads in the nooks of his brow,
and his eyes that land nowhere.

it is she who wraps words around the mast,
and blows the sails full with story,
his pleasure steers the ship.
Only he may scoop out the water
that pools at their feet.

Her guiding star
is visible through clouds,
even present in the rain,
beaming down between
strikes of lightning.

She cups her hands,
fills them with the future,
and lets him drink.


Speaking of characters from stories, I have an idea for my National Poetry Month project! I'm giving early notice in case you want to take part. My project is short story-based:

Take a short story (from a magazine, anthology, one you've written, wherever) and...
* write a black-out poem
* a poem for two voices (two of the characters talking)
* a poem about the setting
* a summary
* a poem imagining the inspiration for the story
* a poem that changes the story in some way

or whatever you want to do!
Email tabatha (at) tabathayeatts (dot) com.
(Addendum: I thought of one I've already written! If I Could Write Like Poe)


Leave your links below!


jama said...

What an enchanting poem --love it (hadn't seen it before)! Now I want to read the Arabian Nights again (it's been decades).

My favorite lines: "It is she who wraps words around the mast,
and blows the sails full with story, "

Thanks for hosting this week!!

Michelle Kogan said...

Wow Tabatha, your poem is terrific, and I haven't read it before, what a tale you wove-powerful woman and powerful poem! I too love the lines that Jama shared with you from your poem–beautiful and so telling. Thanks for hosting the Roundup!

Alan j Wright said...

A most impactful poem, Tabatha. Historical and literary characters make for fascinating poetic responses. Your poem paints a picture of Scheherazade as an artful story teller. I love the marine analogies and the powerful last stanza. Thank you for hosting.

Janice Scully said...

I find it interesting how fearless and confident the protagonist in your poem is. I loved imagining this scene. Thanks for hosting!

Linda Mitchell said...

I'm game for the short story idea! Love it. And, no I have not read that poem before. What an incredible image...filling her hands with the future and letting the king drink. Wow! Beautiful story poem, Tabatha. Thanks for hosting his week!

Buffy Silverman said...

Love the idea of one story inspiring a series of poems. And this is a terrific model--such vivid details. I especially enjoyed these lines: "it is she who wraps words around the mast,
and blows the sails full with story,"

Robyn Hood Black said...

Oh my, Tabatha - no, that poem and the story, is new to me! What an accomplishment. As others have said, that "words around the mast" line, and all of the imagery, is so powerful.
And what a great idea for Poetry Month! :0) Thanks for hosting us all this week.

Susan Thomsen said...

What a cool poem. And yes to "words around the mast." Thank you for sharing that with us and for hosting the roundup.

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

Wow, Tabatha, there is so much to this poem - the imagery, the emotion, the entire scene unfolding. Love her blowing the sails full of story! Thanks for hosting.

Linda B said...

I don't remember your poem, Tabatha, and it is wonderful. I love the story of Scheherazade, wishing every girl could know it, know what a smart woman she was. Let me think about your poetry month idea. I hadn't thought that far along. It sounds very creative! Thanks, for hosting, Tabatha!

Ruth said...

I love the way you've used metaphor in this poem. I know I haven't read it before. Thanks for hosting!

Carol Varsalona said...

Tabatha, thank you for hosting today. Your poem is fabulous. Here is the line that I think stands out: "blows the sails full with story". It is such a visual and holds more than just an image. I think of what you wrote as a story poem. Your National Poetry Month project sounds wonderful
I had to redo my blog post because it flew into winds of the computer. Thank goodness I could find it on my IMac because it disappeared on my MacAir. I now have the correct URL at #16.

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

I have not seen this poem before. It's so intriguing. And I love that you are finding your OLW in your poetry.

mbhmaine said...

You wove your own enchanting story with this poem, Tabatha. I love the imagery of "blows the sails full with story". That entire second stanza is so powerful! As I read your poem, I realized I don't think I've ever read "The Thousand and One Nights". Surely that's something to rectify! Thanks so much for hosting this week.

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks for introducing me to Scheherazade and your throw-back poem, Tabatha. The lines about who actually steers the ship and who is allowed to "scoop out the water" is all too resonant even today. Thanks for being 'open' to hosting. :)

Irene Latham said...

Ooh, I like the poem that changes the story in some way option. Thank you for hosting, Tab. xo

Liz Garton Scanlon said...

What a gorgeous, harrowing poem, Tabatha. What a way to save yourself..

Tricia said...

Tabatha, thank you for sharing your beautiful poem. It's made me see the story in an entirely new way.
And thank you for hosting today!

Sara said...

Your poem is gorgeous, and I was swept along. I love how the lines get shorter and shorter, packing even more of a punch, and how you portray the power dynamic between king and wife. I don't know that I've read a version where her fear is so viivid, and his madness so clear. I adore Arabian Nights (have you seen the mini-series that was made several years ago?) and your poem makes me want to revisit it.

Anonymous said...

(this is Patricia)- such a gorgeous poem Tabatha esp “ wraps words around the mast,
and blows the sails full with story” —dreamy. I enjoy this kind of “response” poem, putting words and poems in conversation with one another, continuing the story. Thanks for hosting!

Margaret Simon said...

Your poem makes me want to know more and to jump into story as a daily practice in April. I haven't thought that far ahead, but what a wonderful idea. I recently attended an exhibit of poetry and art (In Media Res) which has me thinking about story and poetry and art. Thanks for the invitation and your model poem. (And for hosting!)

Elisabeth said...

What a beautiful poem, Tabatha! I love these lines:
"it is she who wraps words around the mast,
and blows the sails full with story,"

Thank you for hosting the roundup today!

Karen Eastlund said...

Tabatha, this is fabulous. You have inspired me! Thank you!!!

Mary Lee said...

Thanks for hosting us and for this terrific poem, Tabatha! You captured perfectly her strength and cunning, and the sailing metaphor works brilliantly. Kudos!

And good onya for having such a solid Poetry Month plan. I really am leaning towards being an audience this month and lifting up the work others do. Every year I get so caught up in my challenge that I never adequately appreciate all the wonderful things others are doing. I'm still going to keep up with the Stafford challenge and daily cheritas quietly posted in my IG stories, but I might not do anything big this year. Maybe.

Sarah Grace Tuttle said...

Thank you for hosting and for sharing this poem! Your Poetry Month project sounds like a delight!

Karen Edmisten said...

Tabatha, I don't think I've seen this poem from you before (and wow, btw) but I can't seem to remember my own posts and poems from last week or last month or last year, so .... :)

What a terrific prompt this would be: write a poem about what Scheherazade is thinking and feeling each night.

Your poetry month idea is wonderful. Maybe I will actually participate this year because April always seems to slip away from me. Who knows what it will hold this year? :)


Karen Edmisten said...

I forgot to mention that one of my favorite lines from your poem is about the king's "eyes that land nowhere." It gave me chills and made me want to mastermind a rescue for Scheherazade.

laurasalas said...

Tabatha! What a powerful poem--such a beautiful use of extended metaphor. You share lots of fabulous poems here, but I'd like to see more of your OWN wonderful work. (Just throwing in my vote here in case you're ever wondering about your blog content/direction :>D ) Thank you.