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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I Am Woman

It’s International Women’s Day! Here at AngelSpeak I’m celebrating poets with a sampling of the women whose work I love and who have inspired and taught me so much.

Some writers I’ve learned from:

  • Jorie Graham’s poetry taught me to not shy away from my intelligence in my writing – it’s okay to be a smart woman.
  • Sharon Olds‘ poetry taught me to write with fearlessness and stark honesty about everything and anything.
  • Larissa Szporluk taught me to pay attention to something other than subject matter: the power of the sound of words.
  • Annie Finch taught me pay attention to something other than sound: the impact of rhythm on the body.

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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

The Important Thing Is…Card Game by Marjorie Tesser

Marjorie Tesser’s The Important Thing Is…Card Game requires a bit of open-mindedness. It’s published by Firewheel Editions and marketed as a chapbook and game. The only problem is, it’s not really either. Not really. The “poetry” comes in the form of seemingly random words placed on bingo-esque cards that are placed in such categories as: Location Cards, Dramatis Personae, Pairs and Bowery Poetry Club Edition (after Brenda Coultas’ “Bowery Box Wishes”). And this is where I have to consciously open myself to what poetry “can be” instead of what I think it “is.”

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