Saturday, April 30, 2011

Poetry Prompt #51 - Look Into Nature

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
(Albert Einstein)

It’s good to be back from the National Poetry Month’s Poem a Day! I’ve missed posting weekly prompts but didn’t want to overload readers, and although there’s still a day left in April, I thought you might like to have something new for the coming week, so I’m posting again according to the usual schedule. I hope you enjoyed the inspiration words and example poems for NPM, and my sincerest thanks to all of you who posted poems and comments.

I also note that Blogger is apparently having an issue with comment posting. When trying to post comments one of our most faithful commenters repeatedly gets a message that reads “error bX-edze7m." Research shows that this is a new and common problem with Blogger. Hopefully, the issue will be resolved quickly and won’t prevent you from commenting. If you can’t post using your Google or other ID, try using “Anonymous.”

This week’s prompt begins with a walk outdoors. Regardless of where you may live, our goal this week is to create a poem in which imagery drawn from nature enhances the subject –­more specifically, a poem that praises nature but isn’t necessarily about nature. We’re not writing haiku on steroids, or nature poems with identity crises – nothing formulaic or derivative – but, rather, poems that incorporate nature imagery to heighten effect and enhance meaning!

1. Begin by taking a walk. This may be right outside your home or you may drive to a spot in which natural elements inspire you. Be sure to take a notebook and a pen or pencil.

2. Look around as you walk. Look deeply; notice details. Make a note of anything that catches your attention. Now, close your eyes and just listen. What natural sounds do you hear? Birds? Wind? A bee humming? A fly buzzing? Leaves moving in the trees? Take notes. Open your eyes and take a deep breath. What do you smell? Flowers? Trees? The earth? Nearby water? Moss? The ocean? Touch leaves, trees, soil, water. Keep taking notes.

3. How do you feel as you walk (what’s your mood)? Spend as much time as you like and repeat any of the preceding steps. Continue taking notes. When you’ve returned home, review your notes and begin to work something in your notes into a poem. Let the poem take you where it wants to go. (Consider using images from nature as metaphors.)

Writing in The Poet's Notebook, Pulitzer Prize recipient Stephen Dunn says: "The trouble with most nature poetry is that it doesn't sufficiently acknowledge nature's ugliness and perversity." In that statement, Dunn suggests that the problem with some nature poetry is that the poets haven’t paid close enough attention to what nature is really about. And, yes, there is a caveat here: the goal this week isn’t to simply write a “pretty” poem about nature. Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Oliver wrote in Blue Pastures, "Nothing in the forest is charming... nothing in the forest is cute... Animals are not toys." Simplistic words, she says, make "impossible the other view of nature, which is a realm both sacred and intricate, as well as powerful, of which we are no more than a single part. We are all wild, valorous, amazing. We are, none of us, cute." Both Dunn and Oliver invite us to LOOK. That’s what I hope you'll do with this week’s prompt!


Illustration: “In the Woods” by Asher B. Durand

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Blog Birthday & Happy Easter

Today, dear readers, is Easter AND the first anniversary of this blog! 

I send you my sincerest thanks for visiting and participating, 
and I wish those of you who observe Easter a blessed and joyous day.

The jeweled goose egg above was made about forty years ago
by my mom (Adele Petro Kenny); 
the rose window door opens to a tiny tableau of Christ's Resurrection.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Poetry Prompt #50 – A Poem A Day

April is National Poetry Month! As you know, many poets participate by writing a poem a day throughout April. With that in mind, I thought you might enjoy a prompt for each day (you can do them all or pick and choose as you wish). In the list below, you’ll see a date and an inspiration word. Immediately under the date and word, you’ll find an example poem. The idea is to use the inspiration word and the example to "jump start" a poem of your own. 

Begin by noting the inspiration word, and then read the example poem. (Remember that the example poem is just a sample; you'll want to give your poem it's own spin.) Next, do a short free write. Take a look at what you’ve written. Look for an idea, a line or a phrase, to develop into a poem. There’s one rule: you may use the inspiration word only once in your poem (twice if you use it in your title). Of course, if your muse is off on a three-martini lunch or vacationing in the south of France, you may just read and enjoy the poems without writing anything at all.

April 1 – Loveliness

April 2 – Light

April 3 – Nature

April 4 – Love

April 5 – Loss

April 6 – Letters

April 7 – Aging

April 8 – Morning

April 9 – Night

April 10 – Dancing

April 11 – Faith

April 12 – Choices

April 13 – Peace

April 14 – Freedom

April 15 – Darkness

April 16 – Wilderness

April 17 – Lost

April 18 – Beauty

April 19 – Forgetfulness

April 20 – Obstacles

April 21 – Death

April 22 – Despair

April 23 – Living

April 24 – Fear

April 25 – Seasons

April 26 – Sorrow

April 27 – Happiness

April 28 – Silence

April 29 – Animals

April 30 – Blessings

Be sure to visit where you'll find a wealth of materials to help you celebrate poetry this month. You can read and listen to poems, download lesson plans, look for events in your area, and check out the National Poetry Map. You can also order copies of the poster seen in the illustration above.

If you'd like to listen to poems, there are over 400 audio clips available at

Happy Poetry Month, and happy writing!