I got back from a wonderful writer’s conference this week- The Writer’s Hotel. I’ll write more about the experience in some follow-up posts. So this week, the prompt is inspired by a poem I was introduced to by my workshop mentor, Tim Seibles. The poem is When A Man Hasn’t Been Kissed, by Jeffrey McDaniel. In it, the speaker starts with an action stemming from a strong emotion that seems odd but still within reason. By the end of the poem, the actions that the speaker has taken are dangerous, almost absurd. I’d like you to start with an emotion or motivation, and escalate a string of actions that the speaker takes in the poem to absurd heights.
This week we have a guest prompt offered up by Adriana Rambay Fernandez:
Play with patterns and repetition by structuring your poem as anaphora. Draw out the emotion and imagery in a piece by repeating the first words in each line of the poem as Joe Brainard does in his book-length poem, I Remember or begin and end with the same line as Angelina Weld Grimké does in, El Beso. As an added extra or alternative, using Grimké’s example, repeat the same word twice in one line at various intervals within the poem. Consider other ways to begin such as repeating; I’m sorry, I lost, or in the mornings we…
We’re off this week for Memorial Day, but I thought I’d give you a little prompt as you do your long weekend reading. Grab the book that’s closest to you and turn to page 42… the first sentence you read can be your inspiration. The book I grabbed was The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma, and the sentence was “Right about now, I’d hear a song.” It made me think of music and memory, how I often attach certain songs to certain people in my mind. Enjoy the long weekend!
What secrets do you keep from your friends, your lover, your mother, even yourself? I want you to write a poem this week which reveals something vital about the speaker in the poem. It doesn’t have to be true or about yourself- although hopefully it comes from a place of truth. Perhaps the poem merely reveals the reasons why the secret is kept, but only hints at what the secret might be. In what situation might the truth be revealed? For inspiration, read Stephen Dunn’s A Secret Life.
The example poem this week is Jack Gilbert’s Alone, in which he is mourning his late wife Michiko. Imagine someone you’re grieving– someone you’ve lost to death, or perhaps it is an ex-lover. What form would they take if they returned to you somehow? Would they be a certain type of animal, or perhaps an inanimate object? How do you interact with this loved one, now that they are in new form? Write a poem in which this interaction takes place.
So I was searching for the perfect poem to share with my mom for Mother’s Day, and I came across a poem of Dean Young’s. It’s a wonderful little poem with some time travel in it. Then, of course, my mother reminds me of the BEST MOTHER POEM EVER! It’s called The Lanyard, by Billy Collins, enjoy! Also, check out this beautiful picture of my mom in her prime. I’m really very lucky to have such a wonderful mother.
The first prompt this week is inspired by Marie Howe’s poem Part of Eve’s Discussion. Think of a moment that was significant to you, heavy with meaning, with a lot of emotion behind it. Perhaps it was your sister’s wedding, the birth of your son, or a time you failed a math test. Get in touch with that emotion.Then think of other situations where you might feel that same emotion, or perhaps that might heighten that feeling. I want you to start your poem with “It was like the moment when…” and list some of those moments. Try using vivid language that engages the senses. See if you can take your readers to the same emotional place without mentioning what the actual moment was. Then, if you like, give a hint as to what the moment was in the title of the poem. Continue reading
This Sunday, May 8th, 6pm at Porta (135 Newark Ave, Jersey City), Cross Poetry will be featuring another fabulous quartet of poets, including Yasmin Belkhyr, Nancy Hightower, Caleb Kaiser, and Joy Priest. In anticipation of this event, read my interview with the reading’s co-curators, Jen DeGregorio and Claudia Cortese:
I like to think of the Jersey poet William Carlos Williams as the originator of fridge poetry. Nowadays, even Kanye West is getting in on the action (“You left your fridge open, somebody just took a sandwich”). You can even buy mixable magnetic words to make poems of your own on the fridge. So, when I needed to come up with a prompt for Jersey City Writers‘ Tuesday night group, I thought writing a “fridge note” would be fun! To add a little challenge, I had folks draw a word from the magnetic poetry kit and use that word in their note, but for the online folks, try going to the Random Word Generator and use the first word that pops up for you. In the fridge note, think about who the speaker is (is it you or a character?), who the speaker is addressing in their note, and what they have to say. HAVE FUN!
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith chose to read (on the air!) Aileen Bassis’s poem Beth-David Cemetery Bill. She even discusses it a bit in the clip. Congrats!