Many (many) years ago, when I was in 7th grade, we had two periods of English every day. One was for all the technical aspects of grammar, and the other was for literature. Diagramming sentences was a little too much like math for me, and all the rules of where to place commas escaped me (I simply put them wherever there was a natural pause). Of course, I loved the literature classes best.
Our literature teacher was a young woman named Dorothy Muccilli (1932-2018). Miss Muccilli introduced us to all kinds of written art, but she had a special love for poetry, and she encouraged us to write poems as class assignments. She was the only teacher who actually told me she thought I had a gift for writing poetry. Needless to say, I adored her and her class.
That October (I was 11 years old at the time and would turn 12 in November), Miss Muccilli read a poem to us by a poet named Bliss Carmen. The poem was titled "A Vagabond Song." I remember how the words of that poem touched me and how my response to it was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. I could visualize the images but, even more importantly, I "felt" the poem in some deep place that I now call "spirit."
Something special happened with Miss Muccilli's reading of Bliss Carmen's poem that resulted in the moment I consciously realized how much I love poetry, that poetry would always be part of my life, and that I always wanted to write poems. Yes, definitely a conscious realization, although I wouldn't have called it that back then. Why that poem, why then? Who knows, but it brought about a revelation for me that has impacted my life ever since.
I memorized "A Vagabond Song" when I was in 7th grade and, believe it or not, I can still recite it from memory today (60+ years later).
A Vagabond Song
By Bliss Carmen
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.
The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.
There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.
The prompt I offer you is to simply write a poem about October (or autumn in general).
1. Jot down some ideas about this time of year.
2. Make an image "bank" from which you can draw when writing your poem.
3. Evoke a feeling through the details you include.
4. Put yourself into the poem; write in the first person and consider writing in the present tense to create a sense of immediacy. Also consider not including anyone but yourself in the poem—focus on your reflections and what the season means to you.
5. Watch out for "ing" endings that your poems can live without. Avoid the passive voice.
6. Be judicious in your use of adjectives. Remember that too many can spoil an otherwise good poem.
7. Edit carefully. It might be a good idea to write what feels like your final draft and then let it "sit" for a day or two before you come back to it.
8. Enjoy the writing!
I send you, dear blog readers, my very best wishes
for a healthy, safe, and beautiful autumn season!