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.
Full confession: This was supposed to be the prompt for April 18th. It was written and ready to go, but was never published. What happened? My apologies for missing a day. Now, without further ado…
Letter poems are written from a specific speaker to a specific recipient. Prayers are said to a specific listener.
Today’s prompt, from The Daily Poet, is to write a poem for a friend or a relative in the form of a prayer. For an example, see William Butler Yeats’s poem “A Prayer for My Daughter.”
Advice from The Daily Poet: “Share images using all of your senses; flood the poem with metaphor.”
What do you wish for the recipient? Where are you—are you, like Yeats, near the recipient—and what are you feeling as you offer this prayer?
I confess that I do not usually read the paper. I listen to NPR and I get The New York Times headlines in email—and often they are repeats of what I heard earlier on the radio. My husband reads The Seattle Times every morning, and sometimes I glance at the front page. This morning, I sat down with it—three stories got my attention, leading with lead in the water.
While the news may not be good, it’s a solid way to start a day when we take up “Journalistic Inspiration,” from The Daily Poet. Choose an article in the newspaper and circle the words that jump out at you, intrigue you. Next, write a poem that uses those words but is about something else.
To celebrate, write a letter to green, in any or all of its shades. Think emerald, Kelly, or chartreuse. Think cedar bough, grass, fluorescent lighting, pond scum. If green were a person, who would green be?
Or, as water covers more than two-thirds of the planet, write a poem to blue.
This just learned, according to Wikipedia: “In some languages, including old Chinese, Thai, old Japanese, and Vietnamese, the same word can mean either blue or green.”
Today’s prompt comes again from The Daily Poet: “Write a poem addressed to an artist, living or dead. It can be an artist you admire or one whose work you do not particularly like.”
It can be any kind of art—painting, sculpture, music, dance, literature, or, as The Daily Poet points out, “cartoonist and creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening.”
What do you want to tell this artist? What do you want him or her to tell you?
Quick reminder: Reading tonight
I’m reading tonight at Edmonds Bookshop, with Lana Hechtman Ayers, David D. Horowitz, Christopher Jarmick, and Herb McClees.
Edmonds Bookshop, 6:30 PM
111 5th Ave S