Today I”m going to jot a poem down without a lot of thinking. I’m going to choose one word (probably something nature but for sure a noun) and use it as much as seems prudent in the poem. Then I’m going to the dictionary like Harryette Mullen and look up my noun. When I find out, I’m going to count 7-10 nouns away in either direction and find a substitute for the chosen noun. I’ll go back to my poem, substitute it and see if there are any interesting lines or phrases that work. Perhaps it changes everything for the better. Perhaps it’s stupid. You won’t know til you try.
From friend Eben Gering: Write a poem about a carnival ride. Then get in a brawl with it at the end. ( I don’t exactly know what that brawl part is about, but carnival rides: what a rich source!) Thanks, Eben.
Read the poem “Your Birthday in the California Mountains” by Kenneth Rexroth. Write an elegy the way he does, misleading the reader that the subject of the elegy is still alive. Address the poem to the person who died. Keep it simple, clear, straightforward, and honest. From In the Palm of Your Hand by Steve Kowitt.
A Member Responds: Niagra Falls in Winter – David Jibson
From Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write.Set aside a half hour:
Settle yourself in to write. First take ten minutes to describe where you are. (I’m in my office and furious.) Try to capture your mood, the room, anything delightful or interesting that catches your attention. Number your paper from 1-5. Very quickly list five things that would be interesting to write about. Choose one topic. What would you write about it? Why would you write about it? Spend five or so minutes writing about that.Do not go for Art, capital A, or even writing, capital W. Think of this instead as word play. Do not worry about being deep or sensible or practical.
Think about a drive you often take. What is your favorite view/crossroads/mile-maker? Why? Are you going or coming back? Does it make a difference? I recommend mile markers 48 and 56 on westbound I- 94, sheep and orchards, respectively.
Take something you love, something you hate, something you don’t understand. Put them in the cement mixer of your brain and write a poem. Below you’ll find a response to this promt from Becky Ventura.
Sparely, create a setting that doesn’t exist. Make sure there’s earth, air, water and fire in some analogous form. (Fire: matchstick, candle, hot sauce, shame.) This is the moment after something has happened. Do NOT be explainy. Write the poem/prose poem. No “I” allowed.
Write a poem that celebrates some special occasion, whether it be an epithalamium for a marriage; an elegy for someone who has passed away; or an ode which can commemorate anything from a battle to a hangnail. From Writing Poetry by David Starkey (no relation to Ringo)
Write about a time you mistook something for something else. Once I thought a person was flagging my car down in the dark, but it was a garbage bag wrapped around a tree. Today a branch blows in such a way that it looks like someone is walking past.
I had a post up a couple of months ago having to do with writing about death. Someone complained that now was no time to do that. I disagree. Death is a fact of life and cannot be ignored. From In the Palm of Your Hand by Steve Kowit. Write a poem in which you are reminded that you too will one day die. It could be prompted by something you see (roadkill) or a song loved by someone who’s passed. Talk about the objects more than your feelings. They will come through.
Here’s an example by Ted Kooser, Death of a Dog.