Saturday, July 1, 2017

Prompt #283 – In the Good Old Summertime

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, 
just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life 
was beginning over again with the summer.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Summer is the season of abundance. Also abundant are our memories of summers past. This week, pick one summer and one specific memory (something happy and upbeat), and write about that summer and that special time.

1. Think about what makes summertime so special.

2. Go back in time to a summer that stands out in your memor

3. Re-create the feeling of that time through written language. Show (don’t tell) how you felt.

4. Convey mood and tone with just enough detail (don’t overdo).

5. Appeal to the senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.

6. Incorporate things that are season-specific. Here are a few examples:

baseball and stickball
building sandcastles
camping out
catching fireflies
daylight saving time
diving into waves
eating ice cream
going barefoot
picking wildflowers
sipping iced tea or lemonade
summer camp
swimming pools
tending your garden
the ocean
walking in a park
willow trees

7.  Recreate who you were and what happened to make that summer so special. 

1. Start with a free write to get things started (you might want to jumpstart the process by looking through a old photo album or two).

2. Write in a comfortable place (whether that means outdoors or in an air conditioned indoor space), that’s conducive to reflection and writing.

3. If you’re writing, for example, about summer’s heat, give examples rather than simply stating that it was hot. If you’re writing about the ocean, use words to conjure up imagery that “speaks” of the ocean’s sounds, smells, etc.

4.  Always be specific, avoid general terms, phrases, and statements, abstractions, and philosophical musings. 

5. Watch out for clichés.

6. Create a sense of sound (music) through alliteration, assonance, anaphora, and rhythm.

7. Remember what Robert Lowell said: “A poem is an event, not the record of an event.” Make your poem a summer event!

“Midsummer, Tobago” by Derek Walcott
“I See the Boys of Summer” by Dylan Thomas
“My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer” by Mark Strand
“Summer Night, Riverside” by Sara Teasdale    

And just for fun—the old song that "prompted" this prompt's title.


  1. Ahh, so nice for a summer reflection! And ... I love the old song ... can you imagine anyone saying "tootsey-wootsey" these days?

    1. So glad you like the prompt and the song! Thanks, as always Jamie, for your comment.

  2. Oops, I forgot to mention that the example poems are all fantastic! Thanks, Adele!

  3. Hello, Adele, I've never commented on a blog before but just wanted to let you and your readers know that although I live in Australia and it's winter here, this prompt is so wonderfully adaptable. I simply changed the season and seasonal words, and wrote a winter poem that I feel very good about. So, to you, many thanks!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Hannah! I'm really happy to know that you were able to make "adjustments" to the prompt in order to fit your season.

  4. Ah, summertime! Swings in the park, lemonade, swimming in the backyard pool, stickball in the street, driking water from the garden hose. These were things my generation remembers. I often wonder what today's generation of children will remember.

    1. I hear you, Sandy! Things have changed so much ...