Think of a common everyday activity that you might do: feed the cat, scratch your head, make the bed, etc. Choose one activity. Let your imagination go wild. How can you make this activity into something weird, wild, or bizarre (or beautiful)? Write a poem that does that. Since you want to emphasize the physical as well as the strange, concentrate on good verbs. Limit the poem to fifteen lines.
Reading poetry can be good in hard times. Writing poetry can be better. How else do we figure out what is truly on our minds unless we set it down on the page? Because we are not seeing many people now (I have seen four people other than my husband and the mail carrier since early march) it is more important than ever that we communicate, even if it is with ourselves.
Sometimes I sit in front of the keyboard with nothing on my mind, and not in a good way. There’s actually too much spinning in my brain and I can’t seem to pluck one thought out of the mess to explore. So I use writing prompts from old textbooks, from books of prompts.
From now on, I’m going to post a prompt each day for you. I’ll tell you what book it’s from. At some point in the future, we can read each other’s when we meet again. And about prompts, do it even if you hate it. The point is not to write exactly what the prompt suggests, but just to write.
Today’s prompt, May 19, 2020
The Negative Inversion (from a hand-out I got somewhere)
Take a poem by someone else, place it on your desk and add a blank piece of paper beside the poem.
Go to the first line. On the blank paper, write the opposite of that line. For example, How I love thee? might become Why do you hate me? It’s kind of fun deciding what is the opposite of The Red Wheelbarrow: the blue LeSabre? the gray mitten?
Do this with each line. You may find yourself wanting to write something else, so go with that. After you run out of steam, go back to the prompt poem. Revise as needed. Keep surprises. Check the diction. Make it better.
Now you will never have a day when you can’t write anything! Enjoy.
For the next Poetry Society of Michigan Newsletter (June), I plan on a special issue—a selection of poems written by Michiganders—especially PSM members—during the time of the Governor’s sheltering-in order (roughly between March 24 to May 15 [?]). I am NOT interested in COVID-19 poems or poems of lamentation during Dark Times (isolation, depression, anxiety . . .). INSTEAD, I’m looking for poems that express the pleasures and joys and humor of living in Michigan during these times—It’s SPRING, for goodness’ sake! That is, poems of good nature and positivity and gratitude and . . . well, anything that hasn’t been showing up on the news feeds the past couple of months. I will make the selection of poems based upon those SUBMITTED TO ME by the end of May. Please send only one or two of your best new poems either as an attachment to my email address (above, or listed on the newsletter) or by regular post to Phillip Sterling, 3033 Court Dr. SE, Lowell, MI 49331. In either case, please be sure to provide me with your name and contact info. For the newsletter, I will select what I believe are most representative poems of what it means to be living where we are at this point in time.
Please share this Call for Submissions as you deem appropriate (websites, Facebook, affiliated local groups). I look forward to hearing from you.