Sometimes I stop, peering down the road and trying to make out shapes in the fog. There is something hanging from the trees. Yellow eyes wide. Watching— —“What are you?” I call out. It grins wider, mocking me in my own voice “Ore no kanojo?” I echo, “Maybe I should bring a bouquet for you.”
I looked away, into the trees and the mist. If I went off the path for a little bit— just a two-hour vacation— what would I see there? A mermaid, twisting through the grey air, or jewelweeds twined together with their friends? I could catch a midsummer shower, run with the wolves in the wilderness, follow them to the edge of the trees and peer into oblivion— It might be the best day of my life.
I step forward onto the road, flowing cherry blossoms catching in my hair.
If you break open enough fortune cookies, pretty soon you’ll find a fortune with enough mystery, pithiness, and flexibility to serve as a refrain line in a villanelle or pantoum. So have dinner in a Chinese restaurant, and you just might find that your dessert brings you a great line for a poem.
The fortune-cookie-refrain-line prompt is very effective in class. I sometimes buy a quantity of fortune cookies and hand them out in class, usually two to a student. Chances are at least one of the fortunes will work as a refrain line…and the students enjoy the snack.
Some of my students have written amazing poems with fortune cookie refrain lines.
Here’s an exercise for writing about a place. Choose a place that’s important to you (emotionally resonant) or simply very memorable.
Make a list of questions (10 plus) about each of the following:
Your town or hometown
One or more houses you have lived in
One room in the house (or each of the houses) you have lived in)
Answer these questions in detail.
Locate one or more artifacts relating to your writing.
Include words and descriptions based on this in your next draft of your poem.
After some time has passed, return to your writing. Try to convey the sense of the place through the language and syntax of your poem. Try to reorganize the ideas, stanzas, or images. (Try something completely different from the original order.)
For discussion– How is the spirit of place being hinted at or pictured?
Are you using place names and other proper nouns? If so, how and why?
http://www.leafscape.org/press1/v5n2/freewrite.html It begins: Write fast. This Vertical Free Write Fold Prompt was written by Meg Pokrass and published in Press 1 a few years back. Meg writes about telling a story, but this can be applied quite easily to drafting a poem.
First day of class? Ask students to write a series of questions that could be applied to this (or other) photograph. (What happens right after this moment? What is someone in particular doing/thinking? And so on….) Pass around the questions. Write a poem based on these. This could work as a fairly brief in-class writing […]