Trinkets / James A. Hillman

Trinkets

Many are the things we hold onto
Silly trinkets we continue to treasure
Physically unable to part with these
For once, they brought us great pleasure

That is a lesson each one learns harshly
When a beloved object we no longer find
Until we realize it is stored safely
Occupying space in our cluttered mind

Sometimes it is the same with the people
We are attached to with such devotion
We may long for a tangible reminder
Instead of grasping hold of emotion

Still we survive with our memories
Finding joy in the words which they said
Lest we curate our own museums
And are unable to bury our dead

James A. Hillman / Flint, Michigan

Prompt: Writing from a Photograph

From girlswritenow.org contributed by Robin Church. Choose a photograph. Write a poem from the perspective of the character n it. Be sure to use details in the photo as images in the poem. Focus on creating a distinctive and and consistent voice.

Here’s an example from poet, Richard Blanco: Photo of a Man on Sunset Drive: 1914. (Full text of the poem here). Notice how Blanco describes a scene from a hundred years ago.  From there, he goes on to tell us how this scene has changed.  His poem is a time machine of sorts that carries us back and forth through time at the same location.  This is a great way to build a poem around a photograph, going well beyond description of the photo itself.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske



Another technique is offered by poet and teacher, Steve Kowit in his book, In the Palm of Your Hand. He suggests a poem in three parts:

1) Describe briefly what is in the photo, focusing on just a couple of details.
2) Animate the photo by suggesting movement or other sensory input.
3) Enter the picture and interact with the objects or people in the photograph.

Here’s a poem demonstrating Kowit’s technique from The Ekphrastic Review that was written by one of our PSM members.

Prompt: Write a Haibun

Try a haibun.Haibun (俳文, literally, haikai writings) is a prosimetric literary form originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem, short story and travel journal. Usually the prose is in the present tense, not longer than 180 words, and the entire thing ends with a haiku I’m trying my bunkhouse piece in this format. You can find lots of info online about them. The Haibun Hut is a Facebook group where Haibun can be posted by anyone. The masters of the Haibun were Issa and  Bashō. Here is one from  Bashō (translation by Franz Wright):

Basho_by_Hokusai-smallAs the freezing rain of early winter began falling desolately over everything, I sought warmth and company at a roadside inn. Allowed to dry my soaked clothes at the fire, I was further comforted for a time by the innkeeper who tactfully listened to me relate some of the troubles I met with on the road. Suddenly it was evening. I sat down under a lamp, taking great care with them as I produced my ink and brushes, and began to write. Recognizing my work, he solemnly requested that I consider composing a poem in honor of our one brief encounter in this world:

At an inn I am asked for identification
traveler let that be my name
the first winter rain

 

Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Prompt: Place or Building

From Crossroads: Creative Writing Exercises in Four Genres by Diane Thiel. (textbook, 2005) Choose a place or a building that has evocative memories for you. Let your piece stay focused on the place as a “container” for memories.(I’m going to write about a bunkhouse. First line: Skunks lived under it.)

Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Prompt: A Contemporary Sonnet

Have you written a sonnet lately? Now is a good time. Yes, there is the rhyme scheme but you can squeeze that a little bit. You don’t want to have your lines end at the breaks. That will result in Dr. Seussishness. Enjamb, let the lines flow into the next. The rhyme should be really subtle in this old rhymed form. Write the Black Lives Matter poem. Did Ovid write about Covid? He would’ve. (He didn’t write sonnets either but so…as I used to say as a teenager.) Make it contemporary. No flowery handkerchief language.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske