7:28 a.m. — Atlanta
Hello, all. How are you this new new year? For those dragons among us, we already rule, but this is our year. If you wanted to write a poem and instil a sense of dragon, how would you go about it? Think about it for a few minutes…
Notice how I segue into our topic for today: How do we go about instilling a sense of place in our poetry? Place is huge. Several of the prompt sites, that many of us frequent, have touched on place. I will try not to duplicate exercises, but this is an area we will play in for a while.
Think about what you mean when you talk, or think, about place in poetry… feel free to jot notes to yourself as we go along. Notes warm the brain up. What is place?
Does a place have an identity before we identify it, or give it a name? Once we identify the running water keeping us from the other side, as river, we begin to give it a more specific identity. Large river. Large muddy river. The Mississippi. The mighty Mississippi. Ah, now we are getting somewhere. The places that we identify, name, and give meaning to, have a strong sense of place. Our goal is to figure out how to establish that sense of place in our writing.
We need to know what we each mean by sense of place. Is it merely physical? Does an emotion need to be attached to the place to establish the sense? Paris. An oasis. The Yangtze River. Stonehenge. The desert. What images and feelings popped up as you read through the list? Mull for a few minutes [you continue to jot notes] about how you might establish a sense of place if you were to write about one of these places.
But let’s start with your own baseline landscape: The special bond which develops between children and their childhood environments has been called a ‘primal landscape’ by human geographers. This childhood landscape forms part of people’s identity and constitutes a key point of comparison for considering subsequent places later in life. As people move around as adults, they tend to consider new places in relation to this baseline landscape experienced during childhood. Wikipedia — article worth reading, should you have the time. It is short.
Identify your baseline landscape. You may choose a larger whole, such as a city, or an aspect, such as surrounding mountains. Whichever you choose, it should possess that which cannot be replicated in any other place. Consider that your audience has never been there [even if you know they live in that place]. How are you going to convey the sense of place so that your readers have an idea of the truth of your place? More notes.
The structure is up to you. Much depends on whether free verse, or a more formal form, is more suited to establishing your place. Remember that form and content go hand in hand. You will need to consider concrete details and sensory imagery in your quest to establish the sense of place of your baseline landscape. This week we have been playing with symbols with one of Joseph’s ‘Reveries‘. Consider symbol as a way in.
You may decide that your piece works better as prose, and that’s fine too. Don’t keep yourself from posting because you think you must have a poem. The objective is establishing a sense of place in your writing.
I can’t wait to read and feel your landscapes. Remember that you can and may post anytime.
I shall see you Thursday for announcements — anymore to go in? Friday will be our roundup of the week’s prompts. And, next Tuesday, since you seem to enjoy them so much, a painting from which to write.
Happy writing, everyone.
P.S. Should a sense of dragon poem arise, post. We dragons have our own sense of place.