7:52 a.m. — Atlanta
Hello! I hope all is well with you. One half of us is looking forward to an approaching Autumn, and the other half to an approaching Spring. What lovely times of year for a writer to look forward to. But, then, so is winter. Summer = vacation.
Yes, I was going to introduce you to a form, but on researching, I discovered there is a fair amount that goes into explaining how this form works. It’s not that the form is so difficult, but rather, that explaining it is. Give me another week to absorb what I am reading.
This week, instead, focuses on place. Place is a topic no poet can ignore, and I will write more about it in one of the Thursday Thoughts. We have had several prompts, in the past few months, on place and on memory. I’m going to ask you to combine the two.
A couple of weeks ago, I spent ten days in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It is one of my favourite places in the world, because I spent concentrated amounts of time there, growing up. Every third year of my twenty years growing up, in Hong Kong, we went on a six month vacation. One of the places we always went, and where we spent a month each time, was Rehoboth Beach.
Because the visit was long and repeated, my memories are indelible: the boardwalk, salt water taffy, sand dunes, shelling, Coin Beach, the WWII watch towers, Funland, the shell shop, Pop [who came around selling fresh vegetables], our housekeeper Mary [who brought scrapple for us children], Rehoboth Avenue [the Main Street], and the porch at 6 Park, where everyone gathered during the day and evening.
I see each of these things, not just as an image, but as a running scene, a movie short, complete with sensory details. This trip, as I walked down Rehoboth Avenue, and along the Boardwalk, while I saw much that has changed, I saw many things still in place from fifty years ago. As I saw my childhood coming back to me in short scenes, I thought: there is a poem here.
I want you to list specific [you want micro like a pond, or a beach, or an ice cream shop, not macro, like a town] places you were in, or visited, in your childhood, that have left strong memories. These places need to be ones you have visited recently and can draw a strong picture of in your mind, then and now. You can use photographs to help, after you have tried your mind on its own. Choose one of the places to work with.
Reach for the childhood memory first, so the newer one does not blanket details. Let the place you have chosen inhabit your mind. Remember what it looked like, what it smelled like, the sounds you heard, things you touched, tastes maybe. Jot all the sensory details you can remember down [if you aren't sure about one, write it down anyway].
Now freewrite what you remember happening there when you visited. Write about how you felt when these things happened. And, while nostalgia often implies happy, your memories might be of something traumatic, or fearful, or you might have had an epiphany. These memories do not have to be in any kind of order. You might choose details from three different visits, when you come to write a poem.
When you have mined your memory for everything it has of the old days, bring yourself back to the present. Take a break to clear your mind.
Follow the same procedure, for what your place is like now, jotting down sensory details, what happened when you visited, how you felt.
Once you have everything jotted down, write a poem about the place in the past, or write a poem about the place now, or write a poem which includes both. Make sure to include some of the sensory details you have listed.
We have been given several forms in the past weeks. Before writing your poem, check to see if conveying the experience is suited to a form, or to free verse.
I shall see you Friday for the roundup of prompts; and next Tuesday for the form, which I will have conquered. Thursday Thoughts is now an as needed post. If I think of something I want to write about, or you send me a topic you wish me to write about, we will have a Thursday Thoughts.