Poem Tryouts: Come With Me

8:12 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Mr. Bojangles sung by Robbie Williams

Hello all. I am wearing my woolie socks and two layers of shirts. That makes Fall official with me. I would bundle even more were I to walk into today’s photograph. I’ll talk about it after you peruse it for a bit.


Beautiful, isn’t it? This was not my planned pick, but when it crossed my Facebook wall Saturday (at the exact time I was looking at paintings), I immediately asked its taker whether I could use it. The photograph is taken by Barbara Crary, whom you have seen occasionally wandering through here.

What grabbed me as far as using it as a prompt? I like the feeling that I am standing just inside the frame. I feel more there than I do in any photograph I can think of. I even had a reaction to temperature. For me, it is cold and windy. That was the first thought in my mind, How lovely. Just the way I like a beach, cold and breezy. I wonder what’s over those rocks.

Your possibilities are a straight response to the scene, as if you were there, in that spot, complete with convincing details, like weather.

Or, you can write about what’s over those rocks.

Or, you can focus on one small aspect of the whole, the rocks and a time you rock climbed; the flowers and something you associate with them; the ocean and your relationship with it.

Study the photograph for a while, jotting notes, especially sensory details, before you decide what and how.

I can’t wait to see the poems, as I am so in love with the scene [no, no, you don't have to be in love with the scene -- you might have a phobia about coasts, in which case turn the scene into a negative]. I will see you again on Thursday for links; Friday for this week’s roundup of prompts; and next Tuesday for a word meaning prompt.

Happy writing, everyone.



Posted by on 30/09/2014 in exercises, poetry


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Poetry Freeforall: Come and Get ‘Em

9:07 a.m. –Atlanta

listening to Glen Yarbrough singing Baby the Rain Must Fall — takes me back to fifth or sixth grade, walking to school. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the song. Odd the memories that stick.

Hello, all. Ready for our week of prompts? New people: every Friday I collect the past week of announced prompts and say a little something about each one, so you have a one-stop shop, where you can decide which sounds likely for you to visit. The sites are in order starting with Saturday.

Mindlovemisery, which I introduced last week, starts us off because they have a prompt for every single day of the week. The prompts are a mix of poetry and prose, something for everyone. What I will do is give their general address and mention one or two of the prompts that catch my eye. Each prompt gives us a full week to post. This week, the two that caught my eye are last Sunday’s which involve six word stories. The examples are incredibly powerful. Also, Wednesday looks fun. The prompt gives a poem from a Romantic poet and challenges us to write a haiku inspired by the poem. Visit.

sepia sat 2We have several image prompt sites, now, so I try to make sure each has a different shtick. Sepia Saturday‘s is interesting in that they take their inspiration from old photographs. They also show us what is upcoming in the next two weeks, so our brains can start chewing on ideas. This week, we can respond to the whole photograph, or to tents, towels, turbans, motorbikes, uniforms or any other visual prompt you can find. sunday whirlHead over for a look.

The Sunday Whirl is beloved by many. Brenda has a gift for choosing words for her weekly Wordle. She also happily collects lists from contributors. If you join The Sunday Whirl‘s Facebook page, you can get the week’s list a couple of days early. Check it out.

adele kennyAt The Music In It: Adele Kenny’s Poetry Blog, Adele suggests: it might be interesting to write a poem that begins with a line by another poet (kind of a new beginning for a previously written line). As she says, not a new idea. What is new are all of Adele’s tips, guidelines, example poems and several suggested lines, in case we don’t have time to go looking. Visit and wander around.

What’s that you say? Limericks are not for you? Then you have not visited Mad Kane’s Humor Blog. Anyone can write a limerick, but a good limerick is an entirely other matter. I learned that here. Madeleine gives us a limerick she has written and our challenge is to use the same first line. She always gives a little wiggle room. Go over and check it out, to read and laugh, and maybe write.magpie

Magpie Tales is one of the most popular image sites, with reason. The images chosen, paintings and photographs, are always intriguing. We are given the choice of a poetry or a prose response. This week’s photograph begs for a story. Head over.Poetry Jam

Alan1704, one of the contributors to Poetry Jam, gives us clouds, this week. Go on over and read what he says about them.FPR-200



The Found Poetry Review suggests we take on Banned Books Week with an erasure [I like the irony]. They provide a list of titles and make the selection of what to erase easy. Head over to find out what and how. If you have never done an erasure, give it a try. It’s an interesting exercise.

Poets & Writers gives us three prompts every week. One for non-fiction, one for fiction, and one for poetry. My contention is that all the prompts work for poetry. This week’s topics are banned books, false alarms and absences.IGWRTButtonrsz

Imaginary garden with real toads is a wonderful site and when herotomost is in full cry, highly entertaining. If you do nothing else, read his prompt trolling the cosmos for breadcrumbs. Enjoy. If you have the time, wander through the garden looking at their other prompts. Go play with the toads.

Red Wolf Poems does a whole different thing with wordles, this week. Irene discusses major themes in poetry, wewritepoemsparticularly that of death, then suggests a memento mori poem that must include six words found in poems written to last week’s prompt. The words are provided. Wonderfully Byzantine! Head on over to read the whole prompt.

Poets United Midweek Motif presents us with a motif each week. Susan accompanies the motif with quotes, photographs, and the occasional video, to spark ideas. This week’s motif is Heritage Week. Visit to read what Susan says.

dverse-nightime-finalI always feel as if I am coming home when I reach dVerse. In part that’s because they are our anchor prompt site; in part it’s a tribute to the good feeling the site engenders. This week, Gay Reiser Cannon introduces the Quarrel Form [intrigued aren't you?]. Visit to read how Gay developed the form [yep, it's original to her] and what you need to do. It looks like a lot of fun. Okay, some work, but a lot of fun. They’re friendly folks at the Bar, so stick around for some conversation.

Enough distractions for you? Go to it, poets et al. I shall see you Tuesday for our image prompt; Thursday for links; and Friday for the next roundup of prompt sites.

Happy writing, everyone.



Posted by on 26/09/2014 in exercises, links, poetry, writing


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Poetics Serendipity

9:40 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Johan Pachelbel’s Canon

Hello, all. Fall fast approaches [conversely, so does Spring, for some of you]. I love the drop in temperatures that happens at this time of year. Did you know that you can look up the winter’s long-range forecast by The Farmers’ Almanac? You can even do it by your state. For the overall this year, they say, all of us at the Farmers’ Almanac suggest you stock up on firewood, sweaters, and hot cocoa. It certainly looks like another long winter of shivery and shovelry is on tap. I’m adding red wine and vodka to the list; otherwise, I’m ready. Meanwhile, today’s links:

1] We have the next installment of Jeffrey Levine’s  On Making The Poetry Manuscript–New and Improved, Part III, his updates to the original article, written in 2011. He begins each post with the original post and goes from there. Whether, or not, you ever plan to put together a chapbook, or longer collection of poems, doesn’t really matter. Levine’s comments apply to writing: Poetry inhabits an enormous house, infinitely expanding to accommodate each of our unique sets of concerns—and we keep raising the roof and busting out the kitchen walls in order to make room for the ways in which we go about expressing and exploring what matters to us as writers. He writes with empathy, directness and humour, lots of humour.

2] If I have a humourous piece, I usually save it for the last bit of serendipity, but I am asking you to read two fairly hefty articles, idea-wise, today, so the humour will go between. Many of you know McSweeney’s (already I hear the rustle of anticipation.). In the article Selections From H. P. Lovecraft’s Brief Tenure as a Whitman’s Sampler Copywriter, by Luke Burns, we are given descriptions of a box of chocolates as if written by Lovecraft. Talk about a wonderful exercise in voice. If I were still teaching, this would become a lesson. If you need to continue distracting yourself from your daily round, pick a writer with a distinctive style and give this a try: put together a sampler of chocolates. Really.

3] Our final link is to an article on Connotation Press‘ site. While you are there, you might wander around. Our link is to John Hoppenthaler’s article on revision in A Poetry Congeries With John Hoppenthaler: September 2014. Don’t groan. You know that’s when a poem really happens, in revision. What I like, in particular is Hoppenthaler’s link between engaging with poems and the revision of his own poems: These things help me to locate those places I should begin to revise; they help me learn how to be a better poet. Or I don’t learn how to be a better poet, but at least the process helps me to understand why I make—or don’t—the decisions I have to choose from as a poet. I taught with the same viewpoint he has and found that I looked at my own poetry with a different eye after teaching the how of a poem. Discovering how others’ poems work played, still plays, a crucial role in the development of my own writing.

Right, that should keep you out of trouble for a bit. I will see you tomorrow for the roundup of this week’s prompts; next Tuesday for our image prompt; and next Thursday for… you guessed it, links.

Happy writing, everyone.



Posted by on 25/09/2014 in links, poetry, writing


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Poem Tryouts: Clothing Memories

7:57 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Snow Patrol singing Shut Your Eyes

Hello, all. How are you? All well, I hope. I have shamefully neglected new followers, so welcome to all who have not been welcomed. Please, after looking around, if you have questions, ask. And, do jump in and try a prompt. I regard them as starters for poems, so if all you get is a draft, say so and post anyway. If you want to say something about process, do. If you have questions you want to ask about your poem, ask. Ready for today, everyone? Let’s start.

What does it mean when I borrow a prompt? I rarely [ever?] copy a prompt verbatim. Instead, I put it in my voice. Sometimes I adapt it, but I will always say so if I do. Bottom line is that the prompt is someone else’s and I thank whomever, in this case, Diane Lockward.

Diane Lockward is one of my favourite people to follow. She has a terrific newsletter and her prompts come with craft tips. When she published a book earlier this year, that was all about prompts and tips, I bought it immediately. I love books on writing poetry and I especially love them when they are full of ideas. Her book, The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop is not just full of prompts, but also mini-essays, tips, from some fifty-six contemporary poets, and a ton of example poems.

The exercise we are going to work with comes as a bonus prompt. As I looked for which prompt I was going to borrow — this was one of the earliest I came to — my mind kept coming back to this exercise, so I stopped looking. Get comfortable. Have stuff to jot on and with. We are going to think about our clothes, not just now but from the first article of clothing we remember.

What is the earliest piece of clothing you remember? Why do you remember it? The earliest I remember is a cowgirl outfit my parents gave me for Christmas. Bright red, it was. The memory is strong because I have seen it often on my parents’ old film reels. The memory of this outfit takes me down two tracks, Christmas mornings, and playing cowboys and Indians with my brother.

Your objective is to list articles of clothing through your life that stick in your mind, and to jot down why you remember each one. I remember my prom dress, a gorgeous deep blue Thai silk. Two accompanying memories: visits to the tailor who made it, and my date. My best friend and I, in a protest against senior boys taking freshman girls [it was a tiny school -- we couldn't afford the competition], invited our fathers to be our dates.

The clothing can be an accessory. Again, from my senior year in high school, I remember the knitted ski cap I wore [to my mother's despair]. Mind you, we lived in Hong Kong, so while we did have very cold winters, knitted ski caps might have been excessive. I wore the hat indoors, always. Every class, all day. It belonged to my dad.

I still have the crocheted poncho my husband gave me when we were dating — some forty-five years ago. I remember coming into his dorm room where he had it casually hanging on the closet door. I think it was his first gift to me.

The clothing might not be yours, per se. One of my strongest memories associated with an article of clothing is of a baby’s dress, white with tiny roses all over. My daughter, who is about to turn thirty-seven, wore it. I have never been able to let it go.

You get the idea: clothing + memory = story. There are a couple of ways you can tell the story. You can narrate a specific scene as a memory, or as happening now — even if it happened forty years ago. The bonus prompt suggests we let the article of clothing tell the story. You can speak in first person, or third. Not every story that is part of you has to be told from the first person point of view. Sometimes a poem works better if told from the third person.

Don’t remember a detail? Make it up. This is not autobiographical [and even those are somewhat fictional]; we make up what we need to get the truth of something across.

I shall see you Thursday for links; Friday for this week’s collection of prompts; and next Tuesday for our image prompt.

Happy writing everyone.


Posted by on 23/09/2014 in exercises, poems, poetry


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Poetry Freeforall

9:44 a.m. — Atlanta

not listening

In fact, I’m racing. Forgive me if the post sounds like it. We leave in an hour and a half for Asheville, North Carolina, to spend the weekend exploring The Biltmore. I thought we were leaving tomorrow. Hello, everyone. Strap yourselves in and I’ll take you through the last few sites I post regularly on Fridays plus one new site by way of Jules.

We’ll start with the new site. It’s pretty incredible and I look forward to getting to know it. Mindlovemisery’s offerings are rich and deep and plentiful. They give us a new prompt every day. Yes, that’s every day. The prompts include photo challenges, music videos, wordles, fairytale based prompts and short form exercises. A little something for everyone, I’m thinking. Go on over and explore. The blog thoughtfully includes a schedule — check left hand column.

Next up is a much beloved site, The Sunday Whirl. This was the site that taught me I could write a poem in under a month’s time, as we have two days to write and post once the words came in. Brenda, whose site it is, has a particular affinity for choosing words for her wordles.

I remember when I first came across Mad Kane’s Humor Blog, that my thought was to post the site a couple of times only, because of its focused field. I wasn’t sure how many of you would want to write limericks. Then I read the limericks that Madeleine writes, as examples, and realised limerick writing is a higher form of poetry than I had been aware of. I decided I didn’t care if you wanted to write limericks, or not; I was going to give you the opportunity every week.

Magpie Tales is the first image site I posted and while I post others now, remains the best. I say this because my tastes run with the things that appear. It isn’t necessarily that I like the photograph, or art piece, but that I can see the value for a prompt. The choices are brilliant.

The last three I am mashing together because they don’t have a distinct focus like limericks, but they offer solid prompts every week. We have Poetry Jam which always gives us image plus prompt; Light Words, where I seesaw back and forth between Carol’s photographs and photographs plus spark days; and finally Red Wolf Poems which offers, alternatively, wordles and regular prompts. As one of the prompters says: Barbara here. I’ll be one of your off-and-on prompters for the next few months. I’m a little odd, and my prompts are likely to follow suit. If they seem unruly, give them a good talking-to, shake them (gently. there’s not that much holding them together). They’ll work with you if you’re firm.

Yes, okay, there is me. Every Tuesday on Poem Tryouts, I offer a prompt; last Tuesday of the month, it’s an image.

Fun, yes? I look forward to next week when I present the full list as per usual. See you Tuesday for a borrowed prompt; Thursday for links; and Friday for the weekly presentation of prompt sites.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 19/09/2014 in exercises, links, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

9:50 a.m. — Atlanta

Listening to Lawrence Reynolds singing Grandpa’s Song — we’re going country, today

Hello there. Yes, I am a little late. I got a little distracted, something I am prone to when lining up things for today. Last week I gave you quite a bit of reading, so let’s keep it lighter this week.

1] We start with a TED talk — I even found one that is short-ish. You’ll need ten minutes. Kirby Ferguson… whoa! I lied. You’ll need an hour all told. Checking his bio, just now, I noticed a comment about Everything is a Remix being a four parter. I am now at the original site and it is, indeed, in four parts plus a couple of connected videos. The video I watched and which caught me, is: Embrace the Remix. Scroll down to the first video after the four parts. if you like Ferguson’s delivery as I do, and are interested in his contention that everything is remixed from what has come before, then you have a whole bunch of entertaining videos to watch.

2] Next, a visit to Robert Lee Brewer [yes, it has been a while -- I have been remiss]. Robert had a volume of poetry, Solving the World’s Problems, published a year ago (a year!). The post I am linking you to is Robert’s take on the year, as regards what he has learned about selling poetry books, as well as missed opportunities. For anyone thinking of publishing this is worth bookmarking. As long as we’re here, if you don’t have Robert’s book and feel in the need of some good poetry, I love it for his subject matter and for the poems’ readability.

3] One of the sites I whip through occasionally is Buzzfeed. The article I am linking you with had me laughing from the first. The title: 29 Words That Mean Something Totally Different When You’re a Writer, and it is written by Daniel Dalton from the Buzzfeed staff. You’re intrigued, aren’t you? As soon as I post this, I’m going to reread the list, which begins with: Writing
What it means: Committing words to paper or text to an electronic document.
What it means when you’re a writer: Doing literally anything else.

4) This last was in my Facebook feed, so some of you may have seen it on your own walls. The site Open Culture whose aim is to find and give us the best free cultural & educational media on the web, reports that the University of California has made available 700 free e-books. For research and found poetry possibilities, the titles are well worth investigating.

I shall see you tomorrow for prompt sites; Tuesday for a borrowed prompt; and next Thursday for more links.

Happy writing, everyone.



Posted by on 18/09/2014 in links, poetry, writing


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Poem Tryouts: To Labour or Not to Labour

9:04 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Queen singing We Are the Champions — gets the blood going, it does

Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Hercules kil...

Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Hercules killing the Nemean Lion 1548, from The Labours of Hercules (1542-1548). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello, everyone. Ready for a little reading? This prompt requires a bit, but I have found you a good source place to make that part easy. Many of you will have read the mythological Labours of Hercules at some point, probably middle school, or you may have read Agatha Christie’s The Labours of Hercules, a slim volume of Hercule Poirot short stories, wherein he chooses his last twelve cases based on each Labour from the myth.

We have choices. They pretty much all require reading the mythical tales and Wikipedia, bless its heart, has a nice short, easy version. When you arrive on the page, you will see the Labours listed. If you are in a hurry, click on the one that stirs a tickle in your mind. Otherwise, read, or skim, the myths. As you do so, let your brain run a commentary, and jot down anything — anything — that pops up.

When Poirot chooses his last cases based on the myths, he picks them because he sees a link (note: I am trying not to use the word metaphor, which sends some of you screaming for the hills). For example, one mythical labour is about a Nemean lion. Poirot’s case involves Pekingeses, the lion dogs of China. You are looking for your own interpretations. They can have to do with the title of the myth, or the story. The links can be as tenuous as you like. If your mind thought it, based on your reading, it’s valid.

You can stick with a single myth, or do a mashup.

You can write an original poem, or a found one.

You can make a list of your own twelve Labours and then create a poem with one of them.

You can write about a current event through the lens of one of the Labours.

If your brain is resisting, consider the original meaning of labour: strive, exert oneself, suffer, be in distress, to work out, toil, work. You get the idea; labouring is something that involves a level of difficulty [and no fun]. Use this as a starting point.

I tend to forget, but if you have questions, for Heaven’s sake, ask. Go forth and labour mightily. I shall see you Thursday for links; Friday for the last introductions of the prompt sites we use (we have a newcomer); and next Tuesday for a borrowed prompt.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 16/09/2014 in exercises, poetry


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