P&W Prompt 18: Dear Me at Thirty,

This week’s Poets & Writers‘ prompt:

Think back to yourself ten years ago–where you lived, what your preoccupations were, who your relationships were with, who you were. Write a letter in the form of a poem to yourself then from yourself now.

I had the most ridiculously hard time writing this thing. And even now, three days into it, I have nothing. Nix. Nil. Nada. Bupkis. Maybe it’s because I’m approaching another decade (40, here we come!) and ten years ago I was doing the same – but I just cannot seem to write this thing. Here’s what I started out with:

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P&W Prompt 17: Passage to America

This week’s Poets & Writers‘ prompt:

Write a prose poem, a poem that doesn’t use line breaks to convey its meaning. Read [the siren’s story] by Barbara Jane Reyes for an example.

I actually really love the prose poem and, for a period of time, wrote a good many of them. Because I am so woefully behind schedule with these prompts, I opted to use this opportunity to revise an earlier prose poem that I love but that has, for any number of reasons, not been able to find a published home. It’s one of those poems that gets great feedback from editors – feedback like: I really like this but it’s not quite there yet. Humph.

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P&W Prompt 11: TBW

This week’s Poets & Writers’ prompt:

Choose a poem that you are in the process of revising. Draw a map of that poem, paying attention to the details of its landscape, its realities and abstractions, its landmarks, the spacial relationships among its features. Use the map to guide a revision of the initial work.

This week’s prompt is TBW (to be written). The whole “mapping out” thing is a little too abstract for my very concrete mind. But, I’ll give it a shot – just not now (I am in Europe at the moment, after all!). Nonetheless, I wanted to make sure YOU have the prompt. And if you have ideas on how to tackle it, I’d love to hear from you.

I promise to link to my own attempt when I get around to doing it. Give me a couple of weeks 😉

P&W Prompt 10: Nothing But the Kitchen Sink

This week’s Poets & Writers’ prompt:

Choose a cliched phrase (“fit as a fiddle,” “think out of the box,” “running on empty,” etc.) and turn it around. Use the new meaning created by this reversal to fuel a poetic meditation.

I struggled with this prompt not because of the prompt itself, but because of the subject matter that has been weighing on me lately. As I’m sure you are all aware, Japan is in the midst of one of the most devastating natural disasters in history. Coming up with a cliche to turn around was pretty easy – I almost immediately when to “everything but the kitchen sink” and flipped it to “nothing but the kitchen sink.” There’s a good site you can go to if you need inspiration for cliches: Cliches: Avoid them Like the Plague.

So, having my cliche in hand, and knowing that the Japanese situation was heavy on my mind, I immediately decided to attempt to NOT write about it. Maybe you’ve tried this before – it never really works for me. If something is filling my brain, it’s going to come out on the page. There’s just no avoiding it. But, just for fun, I thought I’d show you some of my failed attempts at NOT writing about Japan. Here’s the first:

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P&W Prompt 9: Spring Ritual

This week’s Poets & Writers prompt:

Flip through the dictionary and randomly choose 10 words. Write a poem with each word in every other line.

Sigh. Yep. Here we go, another random word prompt. I chose 10 random words from the dictionary but opted to not do the “each word in every other line” part because that just seemed ridiculous to me. Instead, I just wrote a poem using the random words. What I decided to do when revising that first draft was to say “screw it” to the random words and just try to make it a good poem. And I think this overkill of random word prompts is actually getting me somewhere. The idea, always, is to start with the rules and then break them as quickly as possible. Being a rule follower (I am, I really am), I’ve historically tried to stick as close to the prompt as possible. This time, I didn’t. And maybe that’s the point.

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P&W Prompt 8: Photograph, Pittsburgh 1972

This week’s Poets & Writers prompt:

Write a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem made up, typically, of three stanzas of four lines, and a fourth of two lines, or a couplet. Use the following rhyme scheme: In each of the first three stanzas, rhyme the first and third lines and the second and fourth lines (a, b, a, b, c, d, c, d, e, f, e, f); and rhyme the lines of the couplet (g, g). For a traditional example, see Shakespeare’s “From you have I been absent in the spring….”For a contemporary example, see Denis Johnson’s “Heat.”

Aye, aye, aye! The dreaded sonnet. What this prompt doesn’t tell you (and I can’t for the life of me figure out why) is that sonnets are also traditionally written in iambic pentameter (hence the “aye, aye, aye!”). I switched up the form slightly to four tercets instead of three quatrains and used an ABA, BCB, CDC rhyming pattern to mimic Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night” – a poem I have no illusions about ever being able to write but love desperately. Continue reading

P&W Prompt 7: Abject Recipe

This week’s Poets & Writers prompt:

For one week, collect words and phrases you encounter throughout the day from signs, advertisements, menus, overheard conversations, radio programs, headlines, television, etc. At the end of the week, write a found poem, using these snippets.

Here’s what I came up with:

objectum-sexuality; Camille Paglia; abject; documentary; hava nagila; spicy black bean soup; cayenne; sazón goya; erika eiffel; amazon jungle; tena, ecuador; illegitimate and unenforceable

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P&W Prompt 6: Memphis Blues

**I’m slightly behind on the P&W prompts – this is the sixth which should have, technically, been posted last week. I have no excuse for such behavior except to say that my closets are completely, beautifully, and happily organized! I’ll try to get caught up by doing the 7th prompt this week as well.

This week’s Poets & Writers prompt:

Choose a poem that you’ve written and rewrite it in its reverse, making the last line the first, etc. Revise this version, creating a new poem.

I figure: what better poem to put through yet another revision than Memphis Blues? So, I went in search of the 47 versions I had of the poem to realize that it was one of the many (including my entire, more than 200 page, dissertation) items that were lost in the computer crash of ’09. That crash, by the way and completely as an aside, led to my switching – forever and ever, amen – to a mac. I may, in fact, write a post dedicated to my teenage crushing all over some awesomeness that is my macbook.

But that’s another story.

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