When did you feel you were no longer a child, and had crossed the threshold into adulthood? Was there a particular moment? Perhaps you were invited to sit among the adults at a holiday dinner. Perhaps it was the day you first had sex. Perhaps it was the day you realized your father was truly vulnerable, that he was mortal and would die one day. What emotions came with the transition? Tap into those emotions as you write this poem. Either write about what distinguishes childhood from adulthood for you, or try to recapture childhood in a poem. For inspiration, read Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies.
Have you ever wanted to step into someone else’s shoes? Write from another’s perspective? You can do this in your poetry. It’s called a persona poem, where the speaker of your poem is someone other than yourself. Choose wisely who you will write about- maybe you want to write from the perspective of a suicide bomber; maybe you want to write a poem that Trump or Hillary would write; maybe you want to write from your brother’s perspective when he saw his first child born. Whatever you choose, try to ground yourself in some emotion you think the speaker would feel. Use images and sensations that make sense for the speaker to use. Steer clear of anachronisms if you are writing about a historical figure- but if you find yourself doing that accidentally, maybe change the nature of the speaker. Perhaps Walt Disney was in fact cryogenically preserved and has now been reanimated with new insights about our modern society. As always, have fun with it!
For inspiration, read a classic persona poem by T. S. Eliot.
This is a particularly hard topic to write about, even think about so many years later. I want you to examine the way the poet attempts to honor the dead in this poem, Photograph from September 11. Does it work for you? Do you think the respect the poet offers the victims is sincere, the desire not to “add a last line”? Why might using metaphors and similes in poems about grief distance the reader from the feelings? It is hard not to be cliche, to try to say comforting things. I would like to encourage you to write about a grieving, not necessarily 9/11, perhaps something more personal to you, and attempt to allow yourself to simply describe things that happen in the poem, trying to evoke emotions that way, without resorting to metaphors that might allow you to wrap things up in a bow. Allow yourself and your readers to sit and experience the grief and pain. Can you leave the poem open-ended in some way?