2021 NaPoWriMo April 24 Guugu Yimithirr, Understood


Today’s (optional) prompt is a fun one. Find a factual article about an animal. Replace the name of the animal with something else. Rearrange and edit into a poem. (See detailed prompt below.)

Article: Wikipedia. Freely adapted.(Animal, see below.)



Guugu Yimithirr, Understood

Commandeered by James Cook,
the Endeavour was beached 7 weeks due to heavy leaks,
shook by a collision
with an off-course “understanding”, reports Cook, agog,
in his onboard log.

The word “understanding”,
in Guugu Yimithirr, depicts
an “understanding”, eastern grey, recorded in 1770, strictly in May, centuries ago, thanks
to a diary of Sir Joseph Banks, delivered, as he lay low,
on the banks of the River Endeavour.

As Cook and Banks
explored surroundings
they happened, confounded,
on their first “understanding”.

A native, not to blame,
asked for the creature’s name,
replied “understanding”,
the local Guugu Yimithirr phrase
meaning “I don’t understand”,
(which was the case),
which Cook understood
and sensibly took
to be the name.

The story makes plain,
why “understanding”, not in vain,
is a distinct, sought-after pet,
though some, reluctant to bet,
think the creature’s on the brink
of becoming extinct.

(You guessed it: a kangaroo.)

* * *


A Wikipedia article or something from National Geographic would do nicely – just make sure it repeats the name of the animal a lot. Now, go back through the text and replace the name of the animal with something else – it could be something very abstract, like “sadness” or “my heart,” or something more concrete, like “the streetlight outside my window that won’t stop blinking.” You should wind up with some very funny and even touching combinations, which you can then rearrange and edit into a poem.

Happy writing!

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