Saturday, October 15, 2011

Poetry Prompt #75 – WHY?


Why? How often do we ask that question in regard to a cause, reason, or purpose? “Why?” is arguably the most common question we ask others and ourselves (and, at times, one of the hardest to answer).

Newspaper reporters begin by asking six questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Of the six questions, five may be answered easily. Think for a moment of the game (and the movie) called “Clue.” In answer to a reporter’s questions, the answers might be that (who) Professor Plum (what) 
murdered Miss Scarlet (when) early in the morning (where) in the conservatory (how) with a candlestick. The most difficult question is “Why?” because asking why calls the rational, analytical, conscious mind into action. “Why?” needs an explanation – it isn’t based on purely factual information, and there may be different, equally acceptable ways of understanding the question. For example: Why did Professor Plum murder Miss Scarlet? Why did he use a candlestick instead of a knife?  Why did he commit the murder in the conservatory? “Why?” has much to do with motive and meaning.

I know you can see where I’m going with this: the prompt for the coming week is to write a poem in which we consider an important “why?” 

Examples
  

Five “whys” to reflect upon before you begin to write:
  • an unanswered question in your life,
  • the reason someone hurt your feelings or the reason you hurt someone else’s feelings,
  • the cause behind your feelings about a particular person, issue, or idea,
  • how “Why me, why Not me?” fits your personal experience,
  • the reason you have avoided making a decision.

Think hard about a “Why?” experience. Remember the details of time and place. Remember other people (if any) who were part of the situation. Or, alternatively, think about a “Why?’ question that troubles you and focus on the question rather than on an experience.

Consider a light approach and make this a humorous poem (for example, a list of funny “Why?” questions).

You might even make the timeless “Why?” question – “Why is the sky blue?” –  the foundation for a poem.

Another possibility is a poem titled “Why I Write Poetry.” Or, how about a poem entitled, "Ever Wonder Why?"

Here’s the challenge: avoid becoming overly psychological or philosophical and work to create strong, effective images. Show, don’t simply tell. 


8 comments:

  1. Th eternal question: WHY?

    What a fantastic prompt idea to make us think and perhaps use poetry to help define and clarify the "whys" in our lives.

    Thank you, Adele!

    Jamie

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  2. Thanks, Jamie! Enjoy the writing!

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  3. Really creative idea - one that prompts introspection, healing, and personal growth.

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  4. Thanks, bob.fiorellino! So glad the prompt resonates for you.

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  5. Great idea and what a lovely way to encourage awarenesses!

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

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  6. Thanks, Maire! Always good to hear from you!

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  7. I had fun with this prompt, mulling over why I prefer writing poetry to fiction. My effort is linked in my signature. (Always enjoy these!)

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  8. Hi Violet,

    I'm so glad to see that you're working with some of the older prompts and really glad to know that you had fun with this one!

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