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The "I am" Anaphora

November is a special month for me. I love when the trees let down, allowing in the lowlights of the season. The fair-weather crowds have thinned. Here, the world quiets. We had our first frost on this morning of the November new moon. It’s here, the cold, the darkness, and it’s hunting season, too, so our woods walks are limited. We don blaze-orange hats and take to the beach, or the leaf-littered roads. It’s a wonderful season to go within, to look for the ancestors in the shadows, to think about where we come from, where we stand now, who we are. Pondering thoughts, such as these, are supported by the night.


It’s also National Native American Heritage Month. We opened our November Gateless Salon Series with a sudden prompt inspired by the poem, “The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee” by the Pulitzer Prize winning author, N. Scott Momaday, who was born to a father of Kiowas Indian heritage and a mother of European and Cherokee heritage. He grew up on reservations in the southwest where his parents were teachers. “The Delight Song…” is a twenty-four line poem, the first eighteen lines beginning with the phrase, I am. The nineteenth line opens the second stanza, breaking the pattern with a new repetition, you see, followed by another, I stand. I read the poem and invited writers to write into the lead lines after N. Scott Momaday’s poem. Twenty-two writers. Twenty-two new poems. The results were gorgeous.


All year I have been exploring the nature of repetition in the form of anaphora, not just in writing, but in life. I have been fascinated with the practice of repetition as a repetitive practice. For example, last week, I vowed to walk the beach every day at the same time, at the nearing of a low tide, for the same number of steps as recorded by my phone. I found the walking, repeating the same route, rather soothing. I have missed feeling soothed these past half dozen years.


Here’s a list of verbs that mean the same or similar thing as anaphora.





Creativity ​Prompt


~ Read the poem, "The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee."


~ Or hear it read by Elizabeth Mo at Poetry Out Loud.


~ Write the following lead lines on a piece of paper. Then set your timer for four minutes and write, following the lead of the phrase offered, allowing whatever wants to come to come. When you bump into the next line, let it take you somewhere else.


I am a…

I am the…

I am the…

You see, I am…

I stand in relation to…

I stand…

I am…


~ Circle the line you like best. Then draw, paint, dance, collage with images cut from magazines, or take a photo of your phone, make some kind of art that expresses that line about who you are or where you stand in a way other than in words.


"I am a finder of hearts on the beach at low tide."



If you want to read more of my thoughts on anaphora, see last month's new moon post, "Finding Calm in the Anaphora."


Many thanks to N. Scott Momaday, and to you all who are here reading and creating.


~ Jodi xo