Friday, May 09, 2014

Using the materials you have

Today my grandson and I were waiting for his sisters to practice for their dance recital. He was making airplanes and knives from sticks. I thought this would be a good time to share Erica Goss's prompt she shared on Facebook. It is about gathering your own material for poems.

Recycling this prompt from March 2013.

Consider this beautiful poem by Meena Alexander:

Fragment, in Praise of the Book

Book with the word for love
In all the languages that flow through me,
Book made of leaves from a mango tree
Book of rice paper tossed by monsoon winds
Book of pearls from grandmother’s wrist
Book of bottle glass rinsed by the sea
--Book of the illiterate heart--
Book of alphabets burnt so the truth can be told
Book of fire on al-Mutanabbi street
Book for a child who wakes to smoldering ash
Book of singing grief
Book of desire glowing as light pours through.

- First published in al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Poets and Writers Respond to the March 5, 2007, Bombing of Baghdad’s “Street of the Booksellers,” PM Press, 2012

This poem uses a simple, yet effective technique: the list. I use this often when generating ideas for my writing, videos, or events. You can start with the basic “who, what, when, where, how, why” lists, and then blend them to create a new story.

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