Posts Tagged ‘writing prompts’

Friday the 13th & Superstition

I wanted to find a really good Friday the 13th poem to link here, but I had no luck (there’s irony in that last statement!) — however, I did find a great mini-essay about superstition and how to incorporate superstitious beliefs and ideas  into your own writing.  Click here to read poet Aimee Nezhukumatahil’s essay, “The Poetry of Superstition and Supposition.”  Then, before facing the weekend, try one of her writing prompts she lists at the end of her piece.

I’m Wearing White

Well, not really.  It’s just one of those rules that should be broken.  To be honest, I don’t wear white that often, mostly because I’m one of those people who seems to be attracted to pen ink and spaghetti sauce whenever I am wearing white.

The true reason for this post?  I just got done reading a small column in the newest issue of Poets & Writers.  In this column, the editors of Tin House (which is celebrating its 10th anniversary), talk the submission process to their journal.  The column is written in a quick question and answer fashion, with the last question being “What do you not want in a submission?”   The editors’ answer:

This is not particular to our submitters, but here’s the thing: For such a small insect, cicadas sure show up a lot in poetry and fiction.  It sounds silly to take issues with it, but the point is that it smacks of device, which in turn interrupts the dream.  Watch out for stuff like that.

I had to laugh at this response.  A few years ago, a poet I was working with told me to watch those cicadas!  Still, I have to admit these little creatures constantly sneak into my poems.  One of my favorite poems (and it has been published) uses the image of cicada shells cracking underneath a child’s feet.

So here is a writing prompt for the day. Use this title:  Why I Must Have (insert an image that may be considered overused) in My Poems.  What do you come up with?  Just like wearing white after Labor Day, are there rules to be broken in poetry?

Writing Prompt for the Weekend

I’m thinking of one of my favorite poems in Anthracite Country  by Jay Parini.  The poem, titled “Playing in the Mines” contains a warning from fathers to their children to never go to the mines where “The hexing cross/nailed onto the cross read DANGER, DANGER.”  This poem made me think of all the dangerous places I was warned about as a kid.  I grew up in a small town, so one would think there wouldn’t be that many, but the adults in my life seem to find plenty of things to worry about. I can name three:  under the bridge that split our town into two; the railroad tracks; and the old clay mines.  Interestingly enough, I have written (and published) poems about two of these three places.   “Under the Bridge” is in the newest issue of Slipstream, and “The Girl Who Turned Cartwheels” can be found here in a past issue of The Coal Hill Review.   Now I have to work on those old clay mines outside of town…

So, here is a weekend challenge: write about a “forbidden place.”  It doesn’t have to be about a place from your childhood, but looking back at this place from an adult point of view can be fun (and insightful). Are these dangers real?  Or imaginary?  Are they “manmade”?   For example, my poem “Somewhere Under the Bridge” was about the recluse teenagers who hung out by the river.  For the most part, they were probably harmless.  However, in “The Girl Who Turned Cartwheels” the persona is exploring railroad tracks — a real danger considering that trains would travel through town at record speeds.  And yes, in the background of this poem is the disapperance of two children.  Keep in mind that your dangerous place doesn’t have to be an over-dramatic piece of the world — you don’t have to write about a location where mass murders or severe abuse took place, although of course, we all know of poets who have used such stories for great poetry.

Seems like a grim note to end this post (and wish everyone a good weekend), but it doesn’t have to be!

Random Writing Prompt of the Week

This week’s Chautauqua workshop under Rick Hilles is a workshop of “jailbreaks” — roughly taking chances with your own poetry and writing “differently” — that is writing a different type of poem than you are used to writing.  So, my jailbreak of the night? The writing prompt is to make a list of 10 things you fear or 10 things that allure  you.  Then, write a poem from the point of view of that thing.  What am I going to write about? Leeches.  Yep, leeches.  They disgust me, yet they are strangely fascinating — believe it or not they have such an interesting history.  So, I’m off to my leeches poem.