In front of the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

National Poetry Month: April 30, 2015

Prompt: Today, I challenge you to write a poem backwards. Start with the last line and work your way up the page to the beginning. Another way to go about this might be to take a poem you’ve already written, and flip the order of the lines and from there, edit it so the poem now works with its new order. This will probably feel a bit strange (and really, it is a bit strange), but it just may help you see the formal “opening” and “closing” strategies of your poems in a new way!

I decided to go the revision route. Here is the revised poem. The original draft is below.  

Which one do you like better? I'd love to hear. 
Happy National Poetry Month!

Green (2)

down the river
a leaf
I will float
into the green
green world
I will bend
my body
into the wild
under shadows
of tree canopy
mown grass
corn stalks
I will wear
tree frog
chartreuse aspen
just before fall
soft underside
of mallow leaves
pea shoot
spring leaf
I will robe myself

Green (1)

I robe myself                                                
in sagebrush
spring leaf
pea shoot
chartreuse aspen
just before fall.
I wear
tree frog
soft underside
of mallow leaves.
I grace my self
with corn stalks
mown grass
shadows under
tree canopy.
When I walk out
into the wild
no one will see me.
I will blend my body,
fold myself
into the green,
green world.
I will float,
myself a leaf
down the river

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

National Poetry Month: April 29, 2015

Prompt: Today, I challenge you to write a poem in the form of a review. You can review either animate or inanimate things, real places or imaginary places. You can write in the style of an online review (think Yelp) or something more formal that you might find in a newspaper or magazine. (I imagine that bad reviews of past boyfriends/girlfriends might be an easy way to get into this prompt, though really, you can “review” anything in your poem, from summer reading lists for third graders to the idea of the fourth dimension).

Day 29: This started as a review poem, but turned into more of a rant. 

             -- The Washington Post

Like God, poetry is said to be dying.
Proclaimed by an article
from the Washington Post
using statistics, 
America’s favorite weapon.
Readers decline in number,
poetry only slightly more popular
than opera, less desirable 
than knitting or jazz.
I bet the guy who wrote this 
doesn’t read poetry 
or go to poetry readings,
has never been to a slam.
Maybe he still resents memorizing
“Annabelle Lee” in fourth grade.
What should I tell that sixth grader
who told me she is a poet,
who sat scribbling lines in class yesterday?
Stop, don't bother, 
only 6.7% of all Americans
will care about your words?

No, I will say, "Let me read your poem."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

National Poetry Month: April 28, 2015

Another combo today.

NaPoWriMo Prompt: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about bridges. A bridge is a powerful metaphor, and when you start looking for bridges in poems, you find them everywhere. Your poem could be about a real bridge or an imaginary or ideal bridge. It could be one you cross every day, or one that simply seems to stand for something larger – for the idea of connection or distance, for the idea of movement and travel and new horizons.

My good friend Barbara Yoder taught me the technique of rolling a die whenever I become stuck in my writing.  Each number represents a word you can add to your writing to take it further or in a different direction:

1 = But -- add an obstacle
2 = So -- you make a decision
3 = If -- gives you more options/establishes stakes
4 = Or -- gives you options or alternatives
5 = As -- saying more
6= And -- generative/helps create scenes

For some reason, I thought about this today when I began to write about bridges.
Here’s what I came up with:


a bridge can add and to our lives
but only when we let it take us farther
if we cross to the other side
so we find what is there
there or we can stay where
we are as we figure out this what

Monday, April 27, 2015

National Poetry Month: April 27, 2015

I combined two prompts for today:

#1 NaPoWriMo Prompt: And today’s prompt – optional, as always — comes to us from Vince Gotera. It’s the hay(na)ku). Created by the poet Eileen Tabios and named by Vince, the hay(na)ku is a variant on the haiku. A hay(na)ku consists of a three-line stanza, where the first line has one word, the second line has two words, and the third line has three words. You can write just one, or chain several together into a longer poem.

#2  Prompt from Julie Bruck’s Poetry Workshop through the SF Writing Salon: Have you ever been seized by the strangeness of a particular but common word--be it a noun,  a proper name, a verb, a personal pronoun, or even an article--and rolled it around in your own internal soundbox until it started to break loose of its original meaning?
When you get down in the sandbox with those words, you begin to discover all the surprising things that repetition can create, or the ways in which a proper name makes a great verb (see below), or how juxtaposition of the word in question with other words  can tease out multiple meanings from what might have seemed a self-limiting word.

Find a word and s-t-r-e-t-c-h  it.  Don't know where to start? Pick your word and riff on it--do a free-write and repeat your word every time you get stuck. Just keep going. Once you have a draft of something, you can go back and expand the possibilities your word presents. Bat your word around. Tease it. Fluff up its hair.

Day 27:

scurries past
carnelian her tail

spins carnelian
sun glistened web

I carnelian
her deft composition

the flower
of carnelian desire

Sunday, April 26, 2015

National Poetry Month: April 26, 2015

Today's Prompt:  Our last two prompts have been squarely in the silly zone – this one should give some scope to both the serious-minded and the silly among you. Today, I challenge you to write a persona poem – a poem in the voice of someone else. Your persona could be a mythological or fictional character, a historical figure, or even an inanimate object. Need some examples? Check out this persona-poem-themed issue of Poemeleon from a few years back.

Day 26:

“This is my letter to the world
That never wrote to me”

From Emily

Everyone believes my domain is simple.
Here in my white dress,
pen in hand, cool and unhurried.
What fire swells up inside,
words that shout to be set free.
No one understands.
Do they think I don’t desire
the world beyond these four walls,
yearn for a greater journey?
I open my father’s green atlas
tracing map lines.
I would wend my way
far from home,
but bird wings beating
in my chest won’t let me be.
Instead I write
my heart’s flight, trailing  
a silken thread.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

National Poetry Month: April 25, 2015

Today's Prompt: It’s the weekend, so I’d thought we might go with something short and just a bit (or a lot) silly – the Clerihew. These are rhymed, humorous quatrains involving a specific person’s name. You can write about celebrities, famous people from history, even your mom (hopefully she’s got a good name for rhyming with).

I seem to be on a math kick...

Day 25:

Leonardo Bonacci or Fibonacci
Would have loved sunflower seeds in Karachi
He swooned over numbers so many
he would have munched much more than twenty

Friday, April 24, 2015

National Poetry Month: April 24, 2015

Day 24:  It seemed that every prompt I tried today did nothing for me, so I decided to go back to my current favorite writing trick: Haikubes. I chose 5 words to use in a poem.

Here is what I came up with: 


Before you arrived,
competition had no name,
the world all mine.
You quickly clapped
illusion away.
I learned the taste
of jealousy
in the salty folds
of your baby legs
as you chased
after my assurance
to catch as your own.
I learned the word rival.
Ever after would I check
over my shoulder
for your reflection,
but never did I think ask,
which of us started this?