This week (Sat Apr 16) during the Jersey City Writers poetry workshop, we will be trying out two prompts. The first is to write a poem using some geographical terms in new ways. For inspiration, read Zachary Schomburg’s THE THINGS THAT SURROUND US. You can also check out Wikipedia for a glossary of geography terms.
The second prompt is to write about a blessing or sacred text (perhaps scripture, perhaps scientific document), but focus on your reaction to the text. How does it make you (or the speaker) feel? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a positive reaction. For inspiration, read Tony Hoagland’s Bible Study.
Check out this masterful poem by Craig Arnold, titled Hot. I still remember reading it in high school, fascinated by the tale of addiction, and impressed with the tight couplets. Can you write a poem about addiction that is this visceral, where readers can understand the draw of the drug, even if they’ve never taken it? Try it.
I’m assigning two prompts today to my poetry workshop. The first is to write a cinquain, a form similar to a haiku. The version I’m demonstrating is a counting of syllables, like this:
- 2 syllables
- 4 syllables
- 6 syllables
- 8 syllables
- 2 syllables
For a great example of this form, see Adelaide Crapsey’s November Night. For me, keeping the poem focused on one image is just as important as counting the syllables.
The second “form” is not a formal structure, but an idea to write a mobius strip poem. You know, when you take a strip of paper, twist it once, and tape it closed. If you run your pencil along the strip, it will eventually end up traversing the entire surface, and ending up exactly where it began. How can you write something like this? You want to end up the same place where you started (perhaps by repeating a line or refrain) but there is a turn along the way, so something new is gained by the time you return. The inspiration for this “form” is Mark Strand’s The Tunnel (one of my favorite poems). Enjoy your writing!
So I’ve decided to get serious about promoting my writing and create a website for myself. This past year, I’ve been writing nonstop and publishing a bit, too, thanks to Jersey City Writers pushing me along. I can’t recommend the group highly enough.
Last night I branched out a bit and attended Wordsmithing, an open mic night that Lana Rose hosts. It was a talented and diverse crowd, and very welcoming. I was blown away by the talent of high school student Celeste Sena (pictured), 2016 NJ Poetry Out Loud Champion, who performed some T.S. Eliot, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and more. Carolyn Light of ArtHouse also co-hosted the night, and I loved hearing her voice as she sang an impromptu song in response to one of the writing challenges. Carolyn will be performing at Transmission on Saturday April 16 at 8pm to benefit Art House. Many thanks to Brightside Tavern for having us over last night.
Next Wednesday, April 13th at 7pm at Barrow Mansion, Jersey City Writers, Jersey City Independent, and Art House are hosting a poetry reading for National Poetry Month. We will be featuring poetry by Claudia Cortese, Abigail Pillitteri, Rachel Poy, Kevin Singer, Simon Pereira Shorey, Holly Smith, John Trigonis, Beth Bentley, Carol Lester, Joe Del Priore, Aileen Bassis, Kay Dominguez, and Adriana Rambay Fernandez. I’m very excited about the lineup, as I got the opportunity to be one of the judges who selected the poetry. Hope you can make it!