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


  1. This is a great springtime prompt. There's poetry happening everywhere in nature!

  2. Nothing like a nice, leisurely walk in early May after writing a poem a day through all of April!

    Thanks, Adele!

    Jamie :-)

  3. Adele Kenny's Poetry Blog define all about the National Poetry. I also note that Blogger is apparently having an issue with comment posting. Look around as you walk. Look deeply; notice details. Make a note of anything that catches your attention.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Calina Jane!