Saturday, August 18, 2018

Prompt # 321 – Through the Lens

The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.
– Yousuf Karsh

These days, there’s a lot of camera-watching going on (in malls and stores, via body cams, on cell phones, at traffic lights, on lamp posts and buildings, and as part of in-home, school, and business security systems). Our society has been called a cameras are everywhere culture.

This week, the challenge is to think about cameras and one in particular that’s watching you.


1. Write a poem about being filmed when you're not aware of it, or a poem from the perspective of a surveillance or security camera that’s “watching” you.

2. Where are you?

3. What are you doing?

4. What does the camera see? This isn’t just the average “spy camera” or “nanny cam.” This camera sees your feelings, records your moods, shows you as you really are.

5. Remember that the camera sees everything: smiles, tears, guilts, griefs, boredom, happiness, and excitement—not to mention loves, wishes, and dreams.


1.  Come up with a unique first line or two—invite your readers in with something surprising.

2. Write in the present tense to create a sense of immediacy. You may want to try writing a narrative poem (tell a story.)

3. Where are you? What are you doing? Who’s photographing you? Why?

3. Think in terms of creating striking imagery (just as a camera captures images, work toward capturing images in written language).

4. Create a sense of the mysterious. Use language that’s imaginative even if the situation isn’t.

5. Create a sense of the “uncomfortable” for your readers. That is, what is it about being filmed when you’re not aware of it that “speaks” through your poem?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Prompt #320 – More than Window Dressing

The finest clothing made is a person's skin,
but, of course, society demands something more than this.

– Mark Twain

Have you ever thought about poems that have been written on the topic of clothing? There are many, notably:

“Couture” by Mark Doty

“The Plaid Dress” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Shirt” by Robert Pinsky

“My Shoes” by Charles Simic

and, of course Robert Herrick’s “Delight in Disorder”

Clothing is often considered an extension of an individual's personality. Interestingly, among the poems, there are also numerous stories about poets and clothing. For example, Randall Jarell once traded ties with colleague Robert Watson, gloves and scarves with his wife Mary, and jackets and hats with his friend Peter Taylor; and when James Laughlin first met Ezra Pound, he wrote in terms of clothing, “There came Ezra, dressed to the nines in his velvet jacket, pants with equestrian seat, his cowboy hat, swinging his silverheaded cane .…”

You guessed it! Our prompt this week is for poems about clothing.


1. Go through your closet and pick out something you haven’t worn in a long time. Think about associated memories, people, etc. and use those memories as “fuel” for a poem.

2. Take a “field trip” and visit an op shop (used clothing store). Walk up and down the aisles and think about the clothes you see. Choose a piece of clothing that you are especially drawn to or repelled by. Buy it and take it home. Use this piece of clothing as your inspiration for a poem (a poem about who wore the article of clothing, about what happened to someone who wore the clothing, etc.).

3. Write a poem about a favorite piece of clothing or about an article of clothing that had special significance for you.

4. Think about someone from your past, and note his or her clothing in a poem.

5. Think about articles of clothing as metaphors and try writing a poem in which you use clothing (one article of clothing or several) to represent something else.

6. In dreams, it is said that clothing represents two things: the way we would like the world to see us and the way we’re afraid the world sees us. Dreaming about clothing may also represent our attitudes about ourselves and about others. Write a poem about the way you are seen, or would like to be seen, by others.

7. Think about your clothesline (even if you use a dryer, imagine a clothes line that you might use). What’s hanging on that line? Write a poem about your clothesline (what laundry would you hang out to dry – actual or metaphorical).

8. Take a humorous approach to clothing and write a funny “clothes poem” (i.e., “Ode to Underwear”).

9. Thoreau wrote, “It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.” Do you remember the Hans Christian Anderson story about the Emperor’s new clothes? (You can read it here: Was there ever a time when you felt figuratively naked in a crowd of people? Write a poem about that time.

10. Create an article of clothing, something never before seen or worn and write a poem about it.

11. Write a poem about the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing (was there ever one in your life?).


1. Include such things as color, texture, and patterns.

2. Show, don’t tell—through striking imagery, a strong emotional center, and an integrated whole of language, form and meaning.

3. You will write about clothing, but don’t forget that the best poems have obvious meanings and unstated meanings. Your poem should be about more than simply clothing.

4. Clothing is often considered extensions of people’s personalities, clothes can express emotion and mood. Keep these in mind while writing.

4. Think about things that certain garments might symbolize.

5. If you enjoy writing humorous poems, got for it with this one! "Dress your poem up" with laughter.

Examples: Please see above (first paragraph).

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