Monday, April 14, 2008

April Poem Prompt 2 - Take a colour, any colour

In March I had a haiku published on tinywords:

all this green forgiving the rain

which I wrote as I was driving home from Wales last year (there can't be many literary forms you can write, edit and re-edit in your head as a complete thing!) and anyone who was living in the UK last summer will remember the amount of rain we had between the end of May and the beginning of August.

The green in this haiku is the literal green of the landscape but green has other associations too, e.g. youth, naivety and jealousy.

Here are a couple of groundwork 'colour' exercises:

1. Choose a colour and brainstorm for associations around it: single words and phrases, concrete objects, emotions, songs, familiar expressions, whatever comes into your head. Keep making random notes for at least 10 minutes.

2. Working with the same colour: .......... is the colour I remember. Continue writing for at least 10 minutes.

3. Now look at the colour wheel above and, using the opposite colour to your choice, write freely about what you like and don't like about this colour, what it reminds you of, what it makes you feel. You might even try addressing the colour directly, e.g. you were my school years, or, you're the taste of guilt... .

By this stage you might already feel the theme and shape of a poem emerging. If so, work your ideas and images into a draft then let it sit for a day or two before going back to edit. If you're still stuck, don't read back over your notes. Leave them for about a week and look over them then; it's possible that something will strike you as worth working with when you have a little bit of distance.

Happy writing.

1 comment:

Mary Rose said...


The deep blue of your eyes
playing so large a part
in every smile you gave.

My favourite colour, yours too.
Our bedroom’s blue,
the vinyl wallpaper you pasted
still there.
Blue curtains and carpet
laid before you died.

Forget-me-nots grow wild
in the garden, bright, happy flowers -
I do not need their name’s reminder.

Sometimes on a fine day
the deep blue cloudless sky lifts me.
Why should our favourite colour
spell sorrow and depression?
I liked musical blues,
sang along with them once.
Not any more.
I’ll still love blue,
the shade I’ll always share with you.

Yellow doesn’t suit me.
Buttercups printed on a
hand-me-down summer dress
I’m given to wear by my mother’s friend.
I see it now, white peter-pan collar,
a poor fit, the feel of the thick cotton
from over seventy years ago.

It’s Mother’s favourite colour,
next to mauve,
her bath-towel I didn’t take to Oxfam,
but kept in my cupboard,
rarely used because I don’t like yellow.
Her small bright tablecloth
a misfit too.

How differently I feel for yellow flowers.
The garden smothered in celandine,
their golden buttery glow
a joyous colour
following aconites now faded.

Primroses rampant this year,
so beautiful I must watch
where I tread among the grass.
I dig up dandelions,
feel guilty, selective.

Daffodils in clumps,
succumb to heavy winds,
I pick their bent stalks
and bring them indoors.

Mary Rose.