Yesterday we wrote about our real shadow on the ground, or at least that’s where we started.

Now, let’s write about a different shadow, and we can start with these words from the playwright August Wilson:

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”

From The Poet’s Companion, write about your shadow, what Robert Bly has referred to as “that long bag we drag behind us.”

First, to warm up, write something that you would never show to anyone. Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux say, “Get it out, as much of it as possible, in as much shameful or horrifying detail as you can manage. Afterwards, feel free to tear it up or burn it; the exercise is successful if it has enabled you to get in touch with that place in yourself.”

Next, write a letter to your shadow as a specific being–with an appearance, with habits. Or describe your shadow’s reactions to specific actions that you perform. The book lists “tucking in a child, making love, going for a walk, writing a poem.”

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Today’s prompt, again from The Daily Poet, is to write about your shadow and describe the shadows around you. What do you see? The Daily Poet: “If you want, take it a step further, describing the shadow your father casts upon you or your shadow self.”

If it’s a gray day, this might be hard. If you’re in an area with streetlamps, go for a walk in the evening.

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Today, write a poem using words from a different process.

Start by making a list of those words. Now, start by choosing a process or discipline that you love or dread. The Daily Poet talks about using words from math. I recently wrote a poem using words from sewing. Or you could use words from a recipe, manual, or field guide.

After you have your list, use it to write about something else.

(The “something else” might be writing a poem. What other else could it be?)

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Five more poems for the month. Or five more prompts—hoping you get many poems.

Today we continue on our quest to convey the abstract through the concrete, and we’re going to get more specific.

From The Daily Poet: “Write a poem where the reader knows what time it is and what season it is through the details of your poem. Do not use words like morning, evening, winter, summer…” Instead, let what’s happening in the poem and the images you use provide that context.

An image I keep coming back to is from a poem by Tracy K. Smith:

“They have been waiting
Since before the station smelled
Of cigarettes.”

(from “Mangoes,” The Body’s Question, Tracy K. Smith)

What images can you find that show time?

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For today’s poem, write a letter to an abstraction without using that word or any other abstractions.

Abstractions can serve as shortcuts. If I say happiness, you have an idea of what I mean. Because it’s a shortcut, you as the listener don’t need to spend as much time with it. You don’t see it or feel it physically. I guess “idea” is itself an abstraction. Other examples include happiness, grief, loss, death, life (isn’t it odd to think of life as an abstraction?), and time, including all those time words: minute, hour, day, month.

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