For National Poetry Month, we’re holding a Moundsville-related poetry contest with African-American Appalachian (“Affrilachian”) poet Crystal Good. Email her your poem, to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner, to be declared in May, will receive a free Moundsville DVD, a custom piece of Good’s sassafrass jewelry, and publication and promotion on this website. Submissions (which are free) are due by April 30.
To help, Good wrote 17 Moundsville “prompts”, short ideas intended to start or suggest a poem (if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you can rent it for $3.99 here):
- How to pronounce my hometown.
- A man/woman shouts “Top Of The Mourning” or “Morning” to you from a hill. Your response.
- The day you lost your job.
- Listen to this and write about your favorite childhood toy.
- Rockem Sockem Robots. The Red is one industry (coal) the Blue another (gas). Commentate the “fight”.
- You’re walking by a prison to get an icecream cone…
- Imagine you are a child being raised in a town by a ghost, a prisoner, an ancient “indian” and a pioneer frontier settler.
- A lullaby by Charles Manson’s mother.
- Tell the story about (you name them) who got drunk in the bar on top of an Indian Mound and rolled down. Spoiler: He dies.
- Write about your first ______.
- You are the Mayor of _______ville. (insert your name).
- First line: They carried the earth in baskets.
- Write a bilingual poem. One language is: West Virginia/Appalachian
- Take up a collection of words.
- You find a bone.
- What do old people eat?
- You meet a woman crying. You ask her why. She says: For labor.
An acclaimed activist and poet based in Charleston, WV, Good is the author of “Valley Girl”, a book of poetry. In 2013, she gave a thought-provoking Tedx Talk entitled “West Virginia & Quantum Physics” which posited that whether you think her state is “alive or dead” depends on the observer.
She tells me she likes Moundsville‘s treatment of race, its meditation on the cyclical nature of history, and the voice given in the movie to Marc Harshman, West Virginia’s poet laureate. “Marc is a fantastic poet and human,” she writes me in a follow-up email. This month, she plans to read his book “Believe What You Can”, which “explores the difficulty of living with an awareness of the eventual death of all living things”. Poets, says Good, “are keepers of the past, present and future. Poets look for the poem and Moundsville is full of them.”
She counsels not to be intimated by National Poetry Month — “a delightful way of dread if can dread can be delightful.”
The month creates anxiety in me to do the thing I love, write. The cause? Traditionally in writers circles the month challenges poets to write a poem a day. I have yet to write a poem a day in any month much less April. I do however enjoy the month by reading new poems as the month opens the door to so much poetry.
This year, says Good, “I have decided to write 30 poetry prompts for myself. The idea was sparked while receiving Moundsville.”
Besides email you can also find Good on Facebook (Crystal Good) or on Twitter @cgoodwoman
John W. Miller
PS: Here’s my entry:
Build and tell, show and burn
Towns ancient and modern
All these stories in order
Fire the glory recorder
Spirits linger below and above
We’re still trying to sort it out, love