Saturday, November 26, 2011

Poetry Prompt #80 - Who Would You Be?

Have you ever thought about changing roles with someone or just being able to live someone else's life? Have you ever thought about becoming someone other than yourself? If you could become anyone (alive, dead, fictional), who would you be? 

This week, step out of your skin, become someone else, and write a poem about it.

Some things to consider before writing:
  • Who am I?
  • Who am I meant to be?
  • Who would I like to be?
  • Who would I choose to be if I could become someone else?

Alternative ideas for this week:
  • Write a poem about a poem that you’d like to “inhabit” (enter a poem, become part of that poem by writing about changing places with a character from it).
  • Write about becoming a character in a song or a movie.
  • Write about becoming the subject of a famous sculpture or a famous painting.  (Ever wonder what life would be like for the woman in DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa” or what the Venus de Milo might be like if she were flesh and blood instead of stone? What would you be like if you were the Mona Lisa or Venus de Milo?)
  • Write from the perspective of your avatar, doppelgänger, or alter ego.
  • Write about why you don’t wish to change places with someone else.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Poetry Prompt #79 - From Painting to Poem

"Il Penseroso" by Thomas Cole (1845)

Ekphrastic poems are based on other forms of art, most often paintings, but may also include  sculpture, musical composition, dance, etc. You can read more about ekphrasis if you click on fifth tab in the page bar above. You will also find the following informative: Ekphrasis: Poetry Confronting Art  and Notes on Ekphrasis.

This week, I thought it would be interesting to move from painting to poem by writing about a painting (with an invitation to post your poems for sharing). I've chosen "Il Penseroso" by Thomas Cole, one of my favorite painters and the founder of the Hudson River School. Interestingly, Cole's "Il Penseroso" was inspired by a poem of the same title written by John Milton in 1631 ("Il Penseroso" by John Milton)

Keep in mind that ekphrastic poems do more than offer textual descriptions or verbal interpretations of visual art. Take a good look at Cole's "Il Penseroso" and see where it leads you. (Click on the image for a larger view.) Notice details.

You may want to begin by jotting down your impressions, images inspired by the painting, and feelings, memories, or experiences that the painting calls to mind. Think in terms or your emotions and your spiritual response to the painting.

Some questions to consider before writing:

What is happening in the painting?
Who  or what is the subject of the painting?
What mood does the painting suggest?
How do you relate to that mood?

You may want to create a dialogic in which you journey in "conversation" between the painting and your text. Or you may avoid referring to the painting at all (other than, perhaps, a mention in the title or subtitle).

If the Cole painting doesn't work for you,  feel free to work with one of your own choosing!

Famous Ekphrastic Poems:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Poetry Prompt #78 – Home

This week’s prompt invites you to write a poem about “home.”

“Home” may mean many things to us – it may be a physical place or it may signify the center of our world (the heart of our immediate reality). “Home” may be the brick-and-mortar of childhood homes, homes in which we’ve lived as adults, places in which memories were made, or places in which joys were shared and hearts were broken. “Home” may be imagined or mythical locations, dreamscapes, or the metaphorical geography of a particular place. “Home” may include specific attachments, relationships with others, things we said and did, and experiences that helped or hurt us.

“Home” has long provided inspiration for poets. In William Stafford's "One Home," a childhood home is remembered; in "Home Again Home Again," A. F. Moritz reflects upon time, aging, and family.

“Home” may represent both place and people as in Gerald’s Stern’s "The Dancing," and relationships may be revealed through “home” as in Adrienne Rich’s "Living in Sin."

W. H. Auden’s collection About the House (1965) is an extended analogy between the house as a building and the building of the self. For Auden, “home” becomes an extension of “self” through poems that look into physical rooms as well as into their metaphorical equivalents. Click Here to Order About the House

Other Examples:

Some things to think about before writing:

What memories do you have of a childhood home?
What’s your “dream home?”
If a genie granted you the wish to go home for a while, where would you go?
When you think of “home,” what people do you think of?
How has a particular home impacted your life?
What memories of a home can you express through attachments within and to that home?
Does where you live (or where you have lived) define you in any way?
How does a home have two inner spaces – physical and metaphorical?
Is there a “home” in your life that isn’t a physical structure?
Is there a person in your life who represents “home” to you?

By way of sharing, here’s a poem from my book What Matters about the day I sold my childhood home: 

Selling the Family House

I didn’t plan to be undone
by a catbird crying, irises in
bloom where a cherry tree stood,
the baby, born dead, buried there;

or those ovals on the wall where
our pictures were hung, holes
from the nails that held them.

The house – empty or nearly
empty –  crumbles into itself.
I leave a few books on their shelf.
Some shimmer, the others are rags.

What voice do I hear (or want to
hear)? The catbird cries; the earth
turns on wing-boned fingers.

Saturday, November 5, 2011



September 15, 1994 - November 3, 2011

Sire: All Star's Rambo
Dam: Lucy At All Star

Derivation of Name: From the French,
meaning a small, dainty, exquisite jewel; 
something infinitely special, precious, 
and delicately beautiful.

AKC Registration #TN160180/01
January 16, 1995

With much sadness, I write this morning that my dear little Yorkshire Terrier, Bijou, died on Thursday evening. She was seventeen and to her last moment the "personification" of her name. Her passing was very sudden and a great blessing to have happened quickly and peacefully at home and in my arms. Bijou was the last of my Yorkies. I miss her terribly.

There's an Irving Townsend quotation that touches me deeply and expresses what I believe many pet lovers feel about the "little creatures" with whom we share our lives and our love. In memory of Bijou, and in memory of pets you've loved, I offer the quotation as the prompt for this week's poem. (If you write or have written poems for beloved pets, please feel free to post them.)

“We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own 
live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. 
Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. 
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, 
never fully understanding the necessary plan.”

– Irving Townsend from “The Once Again Prince”