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April 15, 2015

Poetry: Day 15

Today, I challenge you to write a poem that addresses itself or some aspect of its self (i.e. “Dear Poem,” or “what are my quatrains up to?”; “Couplet, come with me . . .”) This might seem a little meta at first, or even kind of cheesy. But it can be a great way of interrogating (or at least, asking polite questions) of your own writing process and the motivations you have for writing, and the motivations you ascribe to your readers.

Smile, haiku, Smile big
You are short but so poignant
Each word matters here

April 14, 2015

Poetry: Day 14

 Today, I challenge you to write a poem that takes the form of a dialogue. Your conversant could be real people, or be personifications, as in Andrew Marvell’s A Dialogue Between the Soul and the Body, or Yeats’ A Dialogue of Self and Soul. Like Marvell, and Yeats, you could alternate stanzas between your two speakers, or perhaps you could give them alternating lines. Your speakers could be personifications, like those in Marvell and Yeats’ poems, or they could be two real people. Hopefully, this prompt will give you a chance to represent different points of view in the same poem, or possibly to create a dramatic sense of movement and tension within the poem.

A Conversation With My Heart

Why do you ache, poor thing?
                 Lots of reasons...
Name one:
                 I'm going to stop beating some day

                 What! Does that surprise you?
Well... that's going to suck for me
                 Yeah, so... 

                 Just thought I would let you know
                You know, as a reminder to "live every moment," and all that
                It's not like I make the rules or anything.
I know, but jeez.

               Well, you can either believe it now or you can believe it later when it happens.
All right, all right.

April 13, 2015

Poetry: Day 13

In keeping with the mysterious quality of the number 13, today I challenge you to write a riddle poem. This poem should describe something without ever naming it. Perhaps each line could be a different metaphor for the same object? Maybe the title of the poem can be the “answer” to the riddle. The result could be a bit like our Day One poems of negation, but the lines don’t need to be expressed in negatives. 

Sleepy, snoozy fur
Hides from barking, snuggles well
Claws, paws, whiskers, tail

April 12, 2015

Poetry: Day 12

And now for our prompt! Yesterday’s was a doozy, so today’s is much more laid-back (and optional, as always). It comes to us from Dr. Cynthia A. Cochran of Illinois College:
Here is a great prompt for anyone who likes to write descriptive prose but shudders at writing poetry–and it really works:
Describe in great detail your favorite room, place, meal, day, or person. You can do this in paragraph form.
Now cut unnecessary words like articles and determiners (a, the, that) and anything that isn’t really necessary for content; leave mainly nouns, verbs, a few adjectives.
Cut the lines where you see fit and, VOILA! A poem!

Growing up we journeyed by car
to the family cabin on Flat Head Lake each summer
We played on the dock, scrambled up and down
ladder cut my soft feet climbing up and down
Old wood stove, always cool, wondered how it
heated during the winter
The dock had initials carved in to it that
made my cousin realize her mother had been married before
The boats never worked but one could always
fish off the dock and never catch anything
The red rubber raft was always fun to push out
as it was tied to land and safe for the adults
to not need to watch us the whole time
Such fun memories of walking around
and throwing stones in to the lake

April 11, 2015

Poetry: Day 11

Today, rather than being casual, I challenge you to get rather classically formal, and compose a poem in Sapphics. These are quatrains whose first three lines have eleven syllables, and the fourth, just five. There is also a very strict meter that alternates trochees (a two-syllable foot, with the first syllable stressed, and the second unstressed) and dactyls (a three-syllable foot, with the first syllable stressed and the remainder unstressed). The first three lines consist of two trochees, a dactyl, and two more trochees. The fourth line is a dactyl, followed by a trochee.

It may be easier to hear the meter than to think about it – try reading this poem in Sapphics aloud to yourself, and you’ll see what an oracular tone it produces – the stressed beginnings of the lines produce a feeling of importance, while the unstressed syllables of the trochees keep the pace measured. Rhyming is optional, and if you begin to bridle at the strict meter, feel free to loosen it up!

I have no idea what to do
It doesn't make any sense
this doesn't have a rhyme or reason behind it
oh man, puts head down on desk

April 10, 2015

Poetry: Day 10

Today I challenge you to write an abecedarian poem – a poem with a structure derived from the alphabet. There are a couple of ways of doing this. You could write a poem of 26 words, in which each word begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. You could write a poem of 26 lines, where each line begins with a successive letter. Or finally, if you’d prefer to narrow your focus, perhaps you could write a poem which focuses on a few letters, using words that repeat them.

A Bitty Cat
Dancing, Eating, Feasting
Goes Hog-wild over I.
Just Kitty Loves Me
Not Other People
Quests Real Snores
Tiny U Very Warm
X-tremelly loYal...Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

April 9, 2015

Poetry: Day 9

Prompt: Today I challenge you to write a palinode. And what’s that? It’s a poem in which the poet retracts a statement made in an earlier poem. You could take that route or, if you don’t have an actual poetically-expressed statement you want to retract, maybe you could write a poem in which you explain your reasons for changing your mind about something. It could be anything from how you decided that you like anchovies after all to how you decided that annoying girl was actually cool enough that you married her.

I should never have said
"that teenager deserved what they got"
I should never have said
"your baby looked "a little down's"
I should never have said
"if we stay together"
I should never have said
"you have a big butt but that's okay I have wide shoulders"
I should never have said
"just buck up and be a man"
I should never have said
"I'll try harder next time"
I should never have said
"I hated you"
I should never have said
"sticks and stones can break my bones"
                 but words CAN hurt!