Saturday, November 08, 2008

November - Poetry Prompt 1

Often I don't know what I want to write until I start writing, and occasionally I'm surprised by what I discover. Here's a writing exercise in stages that might take you to a place, or encourage you to make connections, you hadn't though of.

Write a list of constants in the world that are general, universal: e.g. the sun rises, tides ebb and flow, politicians keep on lying... be specific and aim for about 10 to 12.

Write another list of constants in your own life: trivial and profound, silly and serious. Again be specific, e.g. I cry at sad films, I wash clothes that get dirty and I have to wash them again, I visit my parents.

3a. Choose one of these personal constants, one that involves some kind of activity/process and explore and expand on it, fill in the concrete details of what happens, what you have to do, what it feels like physically, etc. Start with the line: Perhaps this is how everything will always be…

3b. When you come to the end of this activity/process, look beyond yourself, physically and/or imaginatively and write down what you find, what is there, what you can see, what you feel.

4. Read back over your writing and identify the dominant emotional tone. Does the form (the shape of the poem on the page) support that? Do your line breaks add tension, or comfort? Think about what effect you want the shape of your poem to have on your reader.

Here’s a rough draft of a poem I wrote while creating this exercise. It’s very unfinished but I feel it has the core of something I want to say... though the theme isn’t quite clear enough yet, I don’t think. I’ll have to work on it some more.

Looking forward to reading your poems.

Perhaps this is how everything will always be

I leave my mother’s house
turn left along the sweep of Silver Avenue
and cross the road towards the sea,
over the crazed tarmac on the prom
where the sweetshops used to be
and down the concrete steps
where the tide is in, or out.
And if it’s in I sit and listen
to the waves breaking,
and if it’s out I walk
the flat plain of damp sand
to reach the shore,
my face sticky with salt.
And beyond the horizon someone else
leaves their mother’s house
walks towards another sea
wanting to believe this
is how everything will always be.


leila said...

Perhaps this is how everything will always be

She puts dandelion leaves on salad
and in-breaths the yellow air,
rides her bicycle as a child
free of stabilisers,
summer hats stumble
in the breeze of her hair,
her black-cat energy
mysterious, uncertain

By the bay she waits,
divining every reason,
anxious dragonflies
as lookouts, sea and sky
a rag of blue gentians,
she yields to the landscape-
stepping stones and pebbles
like rosaries beneath her feet.

Sharra said...
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Sharra said...
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Martin Cordrey said...

Perhaps this is…

When we met
We threw each other glances;
I gave you my lips
You returned your neck

We made a gift of fingertips, thighs
We went for a walk on the beach swapped footprints
Before children we exchanged genitals
after children you gave me your breasts

We took on each other’s thoughts, dreams
aspirations – became each other –
Will you fall in love with you now you’re me?
Could I fall in love with me now I’m you?

Time will tell!
Will time tell?

margaret beston said...


This is how it is: I walk into the room
see newspapers strewn across the floor.
I pick them up.

I set aside the sections I don’t care for:
sport, business news, appointments -
useful for jobs around the house -
catching paint drips or mopping water
when the cellar floods.

I fold the rest in half - not easy
now they’re crumpled.I like that -
how they’ve changed, become familiar.
Then I stack them, magazines first
then supplements, reviews,
main section on the top.

For a few days they sit on the stool
beneath the window, waiting for me
to read the serious bits I’ve missed,
cut out paragraphs and articles
that seem important,
keep them for another day.

Some cuttings always go astray
others I will find years later
tucked away inside a drawer,
wonder what it was that drew me.
Most I read and read again.

Of course I can’t hold on to them forever.
By Friday it’s time for them to go,
make space for next week’s papers.
That’s the way it is -
how it will always be.

©Margaret Beston

charlotte segaller said...
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charlotte segaller said...

Washing up

Somewhere between two breaths,
two dirty dishes,
in underwater spaces
my hands rest

or move freely in the flow.

I don't want this simplicity to end,
but plates and cups,
like people, seem to drown
in too much silence.

So they’re all hauled up,

gasping for air, before
the bowl, slippery,
is tipped to pour
the soapy stream away.

It travels far,

swirling through the system
into another pair
of kitchen taps
where maybe someone else

is trying to hold on,

but suspecting that perhaps this is
how everything will always be.

Sharra said...

I've deleted and reposted as I've done some editing :)

I thought this was a really interesting exercise, things went off in directions I wasn't expecting. I'm afraid I lost the original 'Perhaps this is how everything will always be', but here's what came out of it for me.

Making Apple Crumble

He protests when I ask him to peel,
but the promise of ice cream melting
over hot apple crumble seduces him.
I watch him stripping

the skin, exposing
round whiteness, green twists
tracing the worktop.
The sweet spice of apple

simmers through the kitchen.
He weighs sugar and butter, scattering
flour into the bowl,
running his fingers through it,

again and again.
He spoons molten apple, we wait
and watch the juice bubble
and burn like toffee

our mouths watering
before we taste.

Caroline M Davies said...

This is not how it will always be

I walk to school past the church.
My sons zoom ahead on scooters.
November settles like a burden
on my shoulders.

The TV advertises expensive toys
The children point, do calculations
about pocket money.
Christmas is coming.

We walk to school through fallen
leaves. The church looms
a squat shape in the fog.
A poster advertises the Xmas Fayre.

Santa is at the Saturday fair.
He notes requests for a nintendo.
The children buy Mousetrap.
A second hand game, but new to them.

We play mousetrap.
It is more exciting than the TV.
The last mouse to get caught wins.
It cost two pounds fifty.