Into Place: Tuesday Tryouts

31 Jan

8:04 a.m.

Hello, everyone. Is it only Tuesday? Let’s see what we can do to entertain ourselves. I decided, based on the way you all fall with delighted cries on any image I post, that I will post images the last Tuesday of each month. Based on the exercise I set with the images [if I set one], you may hunt out your own image and post it on your site with the resulting poem. While it’s fun to see what everyone does with the same prompt, if an image doesn’t work for you, then it’s not much good.

We are continuing with place, and that is one reason you may wish to choose your own, if what I have does not have a strong sense of place for you. Remember that the sense of place can be positive, or negative. or both.

Choose an image and ask yourself a series of questions. Is the sense of place physical? Emotional? A balance, or imbalance of both? What establishes the mood of the place? What draws you? Be specific.

Ivan Shishkin

Go over your chosen image, starting with the bottom left corner and moving over it, jotting notes, as you go. Note everything you see. You never know, until you reread what you have seen, what might prove useful, or might provide your focus. No detail is too small. You might look at an image as it is and jot notes, then zoom in once, jot more notes, and, if you can, zoom in a final time and jot more notes. Or, jot everything you think you have noticed. Go away for a bit and come back and go over it again.

Place is that important. Writer Peter Huggins says:

“In painting, chiaroscuro, the use of light and dark, provides definition, contrast, the heightening or lessening of emotion; in addition, I would argue, it allows viewers a way into the painting. In poetry, place serves a similar function: readers can enter the particular world of the poem; however, if readers languish in the general world of no place, then nothing will happen for them, neither the excitement and explosion of language nor the complex connection of realized experience.


“…I would suggest that these poems arise from these places and are rooted in these places just as day lilies or tulip poplars are rooted in the places from which they spring. I would even go so far as to suggest that these poems would not exist (or would exist in a radically different and probably diminished way) apart from their respective places. Place provides form, shape, and being to these poems…”

Write a poem that conveys a sense of the place in the image you have chosen; or about the connection with the speaker describing it; or about the place in the abstract, so that it stands for something else; or using the sense of place to provide an anchor for story.

I see people rubbing their hands with glee. Go to it. I shall see you Thursday, possibly for an interview with poet, James Brush; if not, then announcements, and we will have James next Thursday. Friday sees another roundup of prompts, and next Tuesday, well, place, of course.

Happy writing.


Posted by on 31/01/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , ,

35 responses to “Into Place: Tuesday Tryouts

  1. The Happy Amateur

    31/01/2012 at 10:07 am

    Hi Margo! Thank you so much for pine forest! I’m very touched really, glad you liked Shishkin. I’ve been ‘to this painting’ so many times, it’s a very familiar place. Special.

    • margo roby

      31/01/2012 at 10:25 am

      Sasha, I have a folder of Shishkin paintings, now. I love him and thank you for the introduction. I like the way you put it, that you have been ‘to this painting’. I don’t know if it will work, but that might be a way into a poem. The painting becomes a vehicle.


      • The Happy Amateur

        31/01/2012 at 10:35 am

        I’ve been thinking about this, too: using the phrase for a poem. I’ll give it a try.

  2. whimsygizmo

    31/01/2012 at 4:26 pm

  3. wordsandthoughtspjs

    31/01/2012 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Margo. I love the Times Square pic. I will let this simmer for a day or two.

    Have a great day!

  4. b_y

    01/02/2012 at 8:29 am

    Well, Margo, I don’t know that I’ve given the sense of place, but I got a hint of story and went with that.

  5. margo roby

    01/02/2012 at 11:11 am

    I am four hours behind and ready to shoot Firefox, so will make this a group comment. [I always enjoy Joseph’s — I can see all his responses in one go] Whimsy g, Sasha, and Barb, I am on my way over to read. Pam: Have a wonderful day and I shall look for your poem. I love the Times Square pic, too.


  6. markwindham

    01/02/2012 at 12:19 pm

    Pine grove seems to have won the crowd.

    You show me yours and i’ll show you mine. Thoughts, that is, on this:

    As a hint: very much an exercise, started with Joseph’s prompt in mind. Put the first thought that came to mind in the middle, then worked around it.

    • margo roby

      01/02/2012 at 12:24 pm

      I know. Interesting. But, Pam will give us something different.

      I’m intrigued that your poem started with Joseph’s prompt in mind. I still haven’t gotten to that. I like your tweak — a thought rather than a word.

      I am so behind. I have been working on the interview I am publishing tomorrow and I have to write a letter. I mean a real, handwritten, go downstairs to the mailbox letter. Some madness took me and I signed up for a February letter a day. Now, I have invested in stamps and postcards.


      • markwindham

        01/02/2012 at 12:42 pm

        A letter? By hand? A challenge for me to pass on; we have discussed my handwriting.

        • margo roby

          01/02/2012 at 1:23 pm

          Mark, Then you understand the added stress. Also, why I have chosen postcards as my medium: short messages. I just mailed the first, which is a real card, to the writer whose site had the link. I enjoyed prepping for the month. We’ll see how I feel on the 29th.

  7. julespaige

    01/02/2012 at 5:47 pm

    OK I hope this works…. Just for you my dear! Another addition 🙂 ~Jules

    • margo roby

      02/02/2012 at 9:12 am

      It does indeed, Jules, and I have been over to visit and leave a comment.

  8. viv blake

    01/02/2012 at 5:54 pm

    Lovely prompt Margo. I probably won’t get to it this week, as I’ve as much as I can cope with just now – a huge and difficult translation job plus interpreting chez le notaire tomorrow, and keeping up with the haiku challenge. I’m particularly attracted to the Pissarro picture.

    Bon courage for the letter writing – a haiku a day is as much as I can hope to achieve.

    • margo roby

      02/02/2012 at 9:14 am

      What a life, ViV.

      The Pissarro isn’t going anywhere. It will wait. I did wonder if anyone would be pulled by it, so I am glad to hear it pulls you.

      Good luck. Take breaks!

  9. wordsandthoughtspjs

    01/02/2012 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Margo, I came up with something from a childhood memory. Am I now officially approaching these place prompts, backward? 🙂

    Thanks for the prompt.


    “Peep Shows”

    • margo roby

      02/02/2012 at 9:18 am

      Pamela, for some unknown reason, my reply to you is below Janet.


  10. Janet

    02/02/2012 at 12:20 am

    I’m choosing the pine trees.I have loved the woods as long as I can remember! When I saw the picture on Tuesday I knew that would be it. I thought I had a rough draft of what I was going to post, but my first attempt suddenly took an unexpected turn and took me to a different memory;))

  11. Janet

    02/02/2012 at 12:21 am

    • margo roby

      02/02/2012 at 9:17 am

      Too funny, Pamela! But how wonderful that memories are surfacing, yes?

      I skimmed the poem when it landed in my inbox last night. I read it on my phone and knew already that I needed a good reread on a proper size screen, because you had something special going. I’m heading there now.

    • margo roby

      02/02/2012 at 9:21 am

      Thanks, Janet. Links always appreciated.

      The pines have been a popular pick. You might look Ivan Shishkin up. He is known for his paintings of trees and woods. I love that the poem chose its path [that also means you have a rough draft for another poem!].


  12. Irene

    02/02/2012 at 8:17 am

    I so wanna do this. But I’m dead beat. It’s been go go go everyday. I’m enjoying your place prompt Margo, just you know.

    • margo roby

      02/02/2012 at 9:22 am

      Poor, Irene. You sound tired. My prompts aren’t going anywhere. Come back in a time of peace and write. I’ll be here, too.


  13. markwindham

    02/02/2012 at 9:09 am

    Another experiment for you. Is it, or is it not?

    • margo roby

      02/02/2012 at 9:23 am

      Enigmatic… I’ll fetch my coffee and head over.


  14. MiskMask

    02/02/2012 at 9:28 am

    • margo roby

      02/02/2012 at 9:41 am

      Good to see you, Misky. I am on my way to read yours now.


  15. Janet

    02/02/2012 at 10:33 am

    One stroll through Shishkin’s painting is not enough!

    Thank-you again for your thoughts and prompts.

  16. pmwanken

    03/02/2012 at 5:41 pm

    I have had a picture on my desktop, just waiting for a poem…it took a few days for it to dawn on me that the picture represented a place I would like to be and that “place” was the prompt to be written to! Duh! But…once my brain kicked in and put two and two together, I ended up with six. Six lines of a new shadorma, that is…written for the prompt, as well as my friend de. ❤

    Here it is:

    Hugs to you, margo…

  17. Irene

    04/02/2012 at 8:04 am

    You’re right, Margo, about the delighted cries at any image you post. Wrote something, anything.

    Times Square

    • margo roby

      04/02/2012 at 8:51 am

      :D, Irene. Will visit you now and am looking forward to what you have.



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