Saturday, April 28, 2012

Prompt #98 - Looking Out, Looking In

Before beginning the prompt for the first week of May, I extend my sincerest thanks to all the poets and readers who visited "The Music in It" and who posted their poems and thoughts throughout April. You all made National Poetry Month a richer celebration because of your sharing! (Special thanks go to Basil for posting poems based on the inspiration words every day!)

If there were no poetry on any day in the world,
poetry would be invented that day.
For there would be an intolerable hunger. 

– Muriel Rukeyser

Now … imagine yourself in a room: you stand in front of a window and look out. What do you see? What are the actual things in your line of sight? What metaphorical images do the actual things suggest? Is the window open or closed? Do you lean on the sill? Do you feel the sill’s wood under your elbows? Do you touch the window glass with your hand, arm, or face? Is it cold or warm? How does what you see compare with what you’d like to see? What does the window symbolize for you? Do you take a step back and see your own reflection looking at you? Now imagine yourself standing outside and looking in through a window. What does the outside feel like in comparison to what you see inside? Do you see people? How do they relate to one another? Do you feel left out? Why? How is this “looking in” a metaphor? What about the window itself: is the glass clean, dirty, clear, smudged, tinted, broken?

In workshops with students I use a prompt dealing with windows and ask the students to write a poem entitled “When I Look Out My Window I See.” I tell the students that their window views may be real or imaginary. I encourage them to be creative, to fantasize, to use the window as a vehicle to describe home, family life, school, relationships, or to use the window as a means of seeking, defining and clarifying (looking back, looking to the future). Often, the poems are quite extraordinary. Of course, you know where I’m going with this prompt – the same suggestions apply but you will, of course, approach the writing with your adult perspective. Look through a “window” (real, imagined, symbolic, metaphorical, or in a dream) and create a poem.


(Remember prompt #53 in which this poem was the model?)


  1. I've enjoyed the National Poetry Month post immensely and will continue to do so until the very end of April! But - it's really great to see the weekly prompts back! Thank you so much, Adele!


    1. Thanks, Jamie! I have to admit that while I enjoyed doing the whole month as one "prompt," I really missed posting every week.

  2. I tried to get into the prompt by using a particular kind of window, the back window of my parents' car


    My favorite window
    was the oval one
    at the back of the family Buick
    through which I'd see
    street lights on wooden poles
    fade into the distance
    on the Belt Parkway,
    the ride back from just about
    everywhere; how I'd fall asleep,
    then awaken when my parents
    would place me onto my bed
    in the living room of our
    three room apartment,
    their friendly faces,
    like brother and sister moons,
    affording protection.

    1. Another wonderful family poem! Thanks so much for sharing it! I think a lot of us can identify with that window in your family car. I'm so glad the prompt took that memory into words!

    2. This is a wonderful poem that brings back memories of car trips with my mom and dad. Poems like thins remind me of childhood and how much I miss the way things were back then. Thank you, Bloom306!


  3. Something's awful outside my window
    A big fleshy man
    half dressed
    with his ass crack
    delicately holding a cell phone
    to his ear
    pacing back and forth
    I turn my eyes eastward
    to the rising sun
    to burn out the image

    1. Risa -- something awful indeed! Thanks so much for sharing your poem! You've written the scene so visually, and what contrast between the fleshy, half-dressed man and the way he delicately holds his cell phone (made me wonder who he's talking to).

    2. Risa,

      I had a plumber here this morning and his jeans were, well, shall I say "slipping!"

      I thought of your poem with a smile.


  4. This week's prompt made me think of the following quote by a famous haiku poet:"Throw open your window and let the scenery of clouds and sky enter your room!" (Yosa Buson)

    1. Great "window" quote -- thanks, Bob, for posting it!

    2. Great quote. Thanks for posting it, Bob!

      Something Mary Oliver would subscribe to, I think.