April’s final prompt, again from The Daily Poet, is called “A Life Worth Writing About”: Write down three things you did yesterday, in great detail—sounds and smells, tastes and textures, as well as the visual. Write a poem about one of the things, or write a poem in three sections, with one section for each thing, or braid two or three of the things together.
This is not the end
How has the month gone? Did you write any letter poems? I confess that I’m a little behind, and I’m committed to catching up. If any of the prompts have worked for you, feel free to leave a comment (let me know that I haven’t been blathering on into the darkness—or perhaps I have).
If you’ve checked in during the month, you’ve seen quite a few prompts from The Daily Poet. Many thanks to Two Sylvias Press and to Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano for this book. If you don’t already have a copy, keep it in mind as you write into May.
You can revisit these prompts, check out prompts from previous years, try prompts on Poetic Asides (after the challenge, the prompts remain) and Chris Jarmick’s site POETRYisEVERYTHING site. Visit Tweetspeak and sign up for their newsletter to receive prompts.
Or write without prompts. Be open. Read as much as you can. Be ready. For me, this is hard sometimes, but when that poem is tugging at your sleeve, when that poem is whispering—or yelling—in your ear, pull over to the side of the road and honor what you’re given.
Be well. Keep writing. Let me know how it goes.
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.”
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?)
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
(from “Mangoes,” The Body’s Question, Tracy K. Smith)
What images can you find that show time?