Friday, July 7, 2023

sudoku (the numbers must remain single)

Greetings, all, and I hope you had a sparkling* Interdependence Day. I have unilaterally decided that we Americans have taken the idea of Independence too far in an ugly direction, and that Interdependence is a lot more realistic and useful an ideal to celebrate.  Join my movement! (video diversion)

It's the first Friday of the month and time for an Inklings challenge.  I was so taken with Mary Lee's sudoku poem post last month that I passed the challenge on to all of us: "SUDOKU POEM! YES! Make yourself a grid at least 4x4. Reread Mary Lee’s sudoku poem post from June 1 for information and inspiration and create your own sudoku poem. If you need help with word choice, you could use some of the words in the poem “Numbers” by Mary Cornish."

I myself was very interested in the way the numeric content of a traditional sudoku puzzle could translate into words, so I offered the Mary Cornish poem as a starting point, but I don't think any of us used it, not even me! But I did find out that the name of the puzzle originates in the year 2000 and is from the Japanese, short for sūji wa dokushin ni kagiru "the numbers must remain single" (or "the digits can occur only once").  These words, along with the syllables su, do and ku, show up in my 5x5 grid poem below, which is homage to and curse against kudzu.

See, kudzu is that ugly version of independence in vine form--it just runs up and over everything else, unsubtly and selfishly "maximizing its photosynthetic productivity, by making sure its leaves have optimal exposure to the sun — even if it means smothering other plants in a kind of structural parasitism." It can grow a foot in one day. 

But also, you can eat it! I think our task here is clear, people.

Go see what my fellow Inklings have come up with, and thanks to our host for today, Marcie Flinchum Atkins, for rounding us up.  I'm off to Chautauqua with my folks for a week and plan to do a SHEDLOAD of writing and submitting....send focus my way!

*Speaking of fireworks: my Pride Poem was posted on June 21 and you can scroll down and see the video here. It's called "Federal Hill 4th of July".

Catherine @ Reading to the Core
Mary Lee Hahn @ A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche


  1. This form is certainly a puzzle to solve! I like the idea of interdependence - thanks for sharing, Heidi, and have a great and productive vacation.

  2. I love the idea of Interdependence Day! Good work on your Sudoku. I definitely had an "overgrown" feeling reading it.

  3. Suddenly, doldrums:
    Kudzu covered EVERYTHING.

    That's got to be my FAVORITE permutation of this poem. It's SO descriptive of so many places!!

    I love this whole translation thing - a very simple word, Sudoku from a whole sentence. A very simple idea made into a whole poem. Interdependence is an idea that's worth exploring and savoring as well...

  4. I am continually amazed at all of your challenges for the sudoku poems, & it seems to me that 'kudzu' fits, a growing poem, right? I know about this plant but have never seen it, still wonder why someone hasn't figured out how to stop it?

  5. Kudzu entwines throughout your lines devouring in all directions—thanks for your powerfully messaged poem Heidi, I like the image grid at the top too!

  6. Love how your sudoku metaphor reconsiders independence. Maybe that's what I'm loving about connecting with this poetic form. The video is awesome! Oh that we might be so free in our welcoming! Congrats on your Pride poem!

  7. I'll follow you in pushing for an Interdependence Day!
    Thanks for a fabulous challenge. I'm not sure I would have written another without you nudging us.
    I found this in the bottom right corner: "all must remain / rendered / each leaf counted / singly " Like kudzu, meaning vines throughout your poem/s!

  8. I truly appreciate your commentary on interdependence, and I agree wholeheartedly. The video is fantastic. I have not tried a sudoku poem, but I am excited to give it a go after reading yours!

  9. All of these sudoku poems AMAZE me. Truly!

  10. Yes to more interdependence...this independence of 'Moms for freedom' is kicking my butt.I did not know that one could eat Kudzu?! Yikes. Wonderful poem structure for you and how you can be complex and poetic all at once. My favorite line "suddenly filling in the gaps in the green." Was that your first line?

  11. I don't even know where to start my comment! As always I'm wowed by your keen eye and creative thinking as you tackled this challenge. I truly appreciate your thoughts on interdependence and that video is fabulous! And then your kudzu poem feels so organic. Each column and row works together, twining and climbing and "filling in holes." Wow!

  12. Independence is wonderful when talking about raising kids but yikes the powerful kudzu poem says it all. Kind of a mic drop! Nice work. Interdependence Day forward.

  13. Love your Interdependence take, Heidi, and I agree. You all are stunning me with these Sudoku poems. Yours is so creative, layered, and kudzu-ian!

  14. Wow. You never cease to amaze me with depth of your craft. Thank you for this challenge and for sharing the origin story of sudoku.


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!