Pastiche: a literary, musical, or artistic piece consisting wholly or chiefly of motifs or techniques borrowed from one or more sources.
I wholeheartedly believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Sometimes I read a poem and am inspired to write a similar one of my own using the same style. I really like pastiches because they give me a chance to experiment with styles different from my own. I also like them because the finished pastiche holds a part of the poet I borrowed from, but also a part of myself and my own voice.
Here are some of the pastiches I’ve written, along with the original poems I was inspired by:
Table of Contents
Glitter Glue Heart (“Silver-Lined Heart” – Taylor Mali)
The Lab (“The Raven” – Edgar Allan Poe)
I Refuse to Change (“The Lost Generation” – Jonathan Reed)
Theme for English IB (“Theme for English B” – Langston Hughes)
Glitter Glue Heart
I’m for painless periods
and afternoon naps in cozy places
like the small squares of sunlight created
by the skylights in my family room.
I adore hopping on trains for spontaneous adventures
but also sipping tea at my kitchen table.
Traveling the world, the confusion of learning new languages
but also staying home on a Friday night;
Here’s to life— unnecessarily complicated but devastatingly
beautiful and ridiculously simple.
See, things that are prudent, things that make sense
planning for the future and commuting to work,
paying taxes that drive you berserk,
that’s all well and good.
And as far as all of that goes,
I guess you should.
Your career just might lead you to do something great,
become a compassionate leader, govern the state.
But as far as what gives, what makes me live,
I’ll be honest and admit taxes isn’t quite it.
See, there’s a part of my heart that’s a bit more abstract,
it’s lined with googly eyes and glitter glue and it doesn’t listen to fact,
it doesn’t worry what the next day will bring
just lives in the moment and enjoys everything.
That’s why I’m for hot chocolate on snowy days,
road trips, hikes, and learning crochet.
For family reunions and playing outside:
may I never cease to enjoy doing cartwheels in the grass.
For being on your own when you need it,
and asking for help when you need it.
And the wisdom to know the difference.
I’m for singing in the shower when nobody’s home,
and singing in the shower when everybody’s home,
and pretending to be a rock star, even when you’re eighty years old—
especially when you’re eighty years old.
For loving people with all your heart,
and for laughing when they fart.
For the sound of birds at the crack of dawn,
and for stargazing at night. Definitely for the stars.
Philosophizing at two in the morning,
getting messy, shaving cream fights,
and eating pickles right out of the jar.
For Shel Silverstein, and Bill Watterson,
and Tom Chapin, and Freddie Mercury,
and listening to rain pattering on the roof.
For the self-confidence it takes to know your face is pretty.
For the satisfaction you feel after saying something witty.
I’m for affection more than perfection,
and accepting rejection,
and knowing when to ask for directions.
For dressing up for weddings,
and dressing up for fun.
For crafting eloquent prose and horrible puns.
I’m for being around little kids, for learning from little kids,
for making a little kid’s day,
especially if that little kid is related to you.
I’m for saying “please” and “thank you” and holding the door open for people.
For calculated risks and doing things that scare you and excite you,
for sophisticated conversation but also talking nonsense that delights you.
I’m for writing poetry in the dead of night.
I’m for the smell of the sea and the smell of old books
and pancakes for breakfast on weekdays
So it’s not that I’m saying to start shirking your working,
it’s important to be professional, thoughtful, and smart.
But it’s something less sensible, more incomprehensible
that inspires and urges and enlivens the heart.
August 10, 2015
*Inspired by “Silver-Lined Heart” by Taylor Mali
Once upon a night most haunting, when my homework was quite daunting,
And I was constantly wanting just to sleep and nothing more,
My Chem project loomed before me, as if threatening to gore me,
“Could someone just do it for me?” I said, looking at the door.
“I can’t study anymore.”
Suddenly I heard a knocking, which to me seemed very shocking,
So at first I sat there gawking, gawking at my bedroom door.
I stood up and started striding since the sound was not subsiding,
Wondered what the night was hiding, was a bit scared to explore.
Yet I opened up the door.
There she stood, raven hair gleaming, with a smile that was beaming,
And I wondered “Am I dreaming? Is this the help I’d asked for?”
She said, “I have Chem on A-days, and I nearly always get A’s,
So your lab average I can raise since I’ve done the lab before.”
And she stepped onto the floor.
Quickly she began the write-up; as she wrote her eyes would light up;
Was she going to use the night up? When would she finish this chore?
In a moment she’d completed that lab from which I’d retreated,
And she was no longer seated, but walking across the floor.
“Do not worry anymore.”
After that I slept quite soundly; peaceful dreams seemed to surround me;
Since that lab no longer bound me, I was free to sleep and snore.
The next morning I was cheerful; those who weren’t done were tearful;
I was not the least bit fearful, turned my lab in at the door.
I would get an A for sure.
But that night when I checked Zangle, my insides were in a tangle;
All I wanted was to strangle that girl who’d knocked at my door.
My lab average was unnerving, and there was no hope of curving,
Though I knew I was deserving of that terrifying score.
Out of twelve I’d got a four.
I just stared at the computer, thinking, “I wish I could shoot her,”
Should’ve picked a better tutor, not just someone at the door.
I had thought I was so clever, that I’d not have to endeavor,
But I swear now that I’ll never leave work till the night before.
I’ll fail Chem labs nevermore!
February 7, 2012
*Inspired by “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
I Refuse to Change
I refuse to change.
You may not agree with my point of view, but
Life is nothing but pain
It is not true that
We can focus on the bright side
Because, you see,
Happiness does not exist
It is a lie that
Something good will come out of life
Putting forth our best efforts means that
We will never get anywhere
And if we constantly think of failure
We can avoid disappointment
We shouldn’t do certain things just so
We can be happy.
(Depressing, right? Now read it in reverse!)
*Inspired by “The Lost Generation” by Jonathan Reed
Theme for English IB
My teacher said,
Sit here, write a poem
You’ll type it up when you get home.
When you’re done writing it here, just wait
I’ll approve your paper with a stamp that says “late.”
But I know it’s not that simple (the IB makes everything so much more complicated than it needs to be).
I am sixteen (though I may not look like it), born in New Delhi, India.
I grew up here, went to preschool, then kindergarten, then elementary, then middle school, and all the while taught people the difference between Sarah and Sarrah.
Now I go to International Academy East, and I am the only Sarrah in my class.
At the end of the day, at 2:35, I leave school and get home as soon as I can, while others (who seem to spend their lives there) hang around until three or four.
I sit at the kitchen table (my room is too secluded) and type this poem that I wrote in class:
It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at sixteen, my age. But I guess I’m what
I want to be, and I want to be a dreamer, a believer, a wisher, someone who swings from a star.
I like to read, write, dream, feel, touch, smell, drink hot chocolate on snowy days.
I like to drink tea at 3:27 every day after school.
I don’t celebrate Christmas, but if someone wanted to give me a gift, I wouldn’t mind a new book to add to my collection,
any genre— mystery, sci-fi, fantasy.
I guess loving books doesn’t make me NOT like
the same things other folks like who do not love books.
So, what will it look like, this poem that I write?
Well, I think it looked better on notebook paper.
Either way, it will have come from me
And so it will be a part of me
But also a part of Langston Hughes
(It is his style that I use.)
Perhaps he doesn’t want to be copied by all the kids in my class
And maybe I don’t want to copy Langston Hughes,
Though I have learned a lot from his views.
And as I learn more from what I read and write
I do suppose that it just might
Be true that others learn from me
And the things that I write for them to read.
This is my poem for English IB.
April 16, 2012
*Inspired by “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes