Your Inner Child at Tuesday Tryouts

02 Oct

8:24 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to The Battle of New Orleans, by Johnny Horton, courtesy of my son’s music blog

Hello, all. I hope everything is going well. Today I want you to crawl inside yourselves and then, time travel back to several points of your childhood. I read a statement, recently, by Jim Henson, of Muppet fame. He said: The most sophisticated people I know — inside they are all children.

I have talked about how important it is for us to access memories and emotions, in order to have a believable voice in our poems. Being able to access your inner child is important for another reason: no one sees the world from quite the same perspective. To achieve the, as yet, unmarked view of a child when looking at, or watching, something, requires that we remember how we saw things or experienced them the first time.

We Write Poems had a prompt where they asked for an early memory. In the comments of my poem, Neil wrote: If you’re going to change the “form” then also change the pace. That might even make the poem breathe like an excited child breathes, quick and shallow; then the form would reveal even more of the child physically? By example,

We ran,
over the grass
towards the bushes

might become instead…

we ran.
short legs.
over grass,
towards the bushes.

Of course I’m running rough shod over proper punctuation, but… do you feel the difference? Read it aloud, feel your breath. Does that work for you? (short legs, you see!) And children don’t necessarily speak in whole sentences anyway, do they? (us too?)

He is right. If we can access our inner child, we have a choice, to speak as that child, or as someone looking back [ourselves, or a speaker we create]. For this, I don’t necessarily want a poem on a memory, so much as I want you to play with voice. Choose several moments when you remember specific emotions, that may have been the first time those emotions were experienced by you. Jot them down, and if sensory details accompany the memory, note them too.

What do you learn from recalling those moments? How did that first moment of joy, of anger, of pain, of surprise, of fear, of wonder… feel? As you go through your day, or week, try to see things with that first unfettered sight. Then write a poem. I hope that makes some kind of sense. Your poems will be wide-ranging and that is fine. Take from this what you will and I will enjoy reading whatever you write.

I shall see you Thursday for an update on what is happening to last week’s post. At the moment, Jules and Joseph are the only ones who have thrown something into the pot. The post continues open for a couple of weeks, while I am on the road, and I hope more of you have time to add your thoughts. Friday we have the roundup. Then, we have two weeks when Wordgathering goes dark. It’s my husband’s Fall Break and we are roadtripping!

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 02/10/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , ,

34 responses to “Your Inner Child at Tuesday Tryouts

  1. barbara_

    02/10/2012 at 9:46 am

    A hard one. I don’t remember much, and what there is has become almost third person. The one or two that haven’t, just feel like me. Not “childlike”. Maybe more local.

    • margo roby

      02/10/2012 at 9:54 am

      This is a hard one, Barbara. You might find it easier to remember an inner child from seeing other children. You have an incredible ability to imagine. Maybe that’s what you play with. Or, when you read it, or hear it, how does the phrase ‘inner child’ apply to you? Use that to give yourself fodder.

      • barbara_

        03/10/2012 at 6:37 am

        I suspect my inner child is just as peevish as my candy shell. Just more flexible in movement.

  2. JulesPaige

    02/10/2012 at 9:51 am

    A bit long in the tooth perhaps… But I wasn’t running through the grass.

  3. Misky

    02/10/2012 at 12:35 pm

    I live vicariously through my grandchildren now, so with that in mind here’s my offering.

    • margo roby

      04/10/2012 at 8:10 am

      I’m thinking that a shrewd observer can capture the inner child-ness we had, by being open to the children around us. Visiting in a mo.

  4. neil reid

    02/10/2012 at 1:22 pm

    Hmm… well isn’t this interesting. (or maybe I’m just old, and everything seems to “connect”) Flash sideways to another recent WWP prompt about “talking to” your younger self, and for me at least, it became very explicitly clear – you can’t. You can only be as you are this moment here (and now). However that don’t mean who you were “then” isn’t part of who you are now (yea, obvious I know). But we now can connect to that same “ability” as then, that sense of play and wonder – a more direct immediate experience of experience.

    A more observant soul than me once said, you don’t gotta go digging deep to get to the truth of a thing because it’s right here and observable. (some say, god didn’t create this existence for it to be hidden from us, but intimately “findable” – I like that) (and that’s the sneaky backdoor to the “connection” I noticed here… )

    Current WWP prompt is about allowing “stream of consciousness” – the really important operative word here being, “allowing”. We learn to use our “good behavior” (AKA internal editor) to be correct or adult or right or not-be-a-target-for-expected-ridicule. When we get comfy with that I suspect we get un-comfy with being, allowing, direct unfiltered observation and expression (there’s the child, if we’re looking… ). So long-short, pose the question, then allow whatever associations result (and our editors really really aren’t comfortable with doing that), but it’s just a matter of allowing, of letting go (and love?).

    That’s the voice right here (just hidden under the covers) I think. Children don’t care so much about the goal as the process, as the play. That is still available to all of us.

    (There are at least a couple more crates of apples here, but another day, another poem… )

    Walk lightly enough that you don’t scare away the birds (I think that also applies).

    Great prompt idea Margo (and pardon my wandering!)

    • Hannah Gosselin

      02/10/2012 at 2:16 pm

      “Walk lightly enough that you don’t scare away the birds (I think that also applies).”

      I like this, Neil, so true…there’s a fine line when delving into certain areas of inner voice.

    • barbara_

      03/10/2012 at 6:45 am

      Neil, interesting linkings. I don’t really believe we can write s-o-c. Mostly seems like permission to strut our flash, which I do anyway. Just the act of dismissing the internal editor is conscious. A bit like method acting.

    • margo roby

      04/10/2012 at 8:13 am

      Neil, you may wander through my blog at any time you wish. I learn from everything you say. Besides, I enjoy you.

      (some say, god didn’t create this existence for it to be hidden from us, but intimately “findable” – I like that) — I used to say almost the same thing to my students about poetry. There is no hidden meaning, only meaning. No writer is trying to hide meaning.A writer wants meaning to be ‘findable’.

  5. Hannah Gosselin

    02/10/2012 at 2:13 pm

    WOW! Lookie there I just posted on Tuesday!!?

    Thanks a bunch, Margo….this was good practice, I think.


  6. pmwanken

    02/10/2012 at 5:38 pm

    (a shadorma)

    Tiny toes
    point up to the sky —
    legs pumping,
    hair flying —
    I can do it! Finally
    swinging on my own.

    I’m not sure I’ve fully gone down the path of your exercise (yet), but your prompt/lesson flashed an image in my mind of when I finally didn’t have to rely on anyone else to play on the swings. Posting my draft, here.

    • margo roby

      04/10/2012 at 8:16 am

      And, if there is one thing we learn the hard way, it’s to get things down when they happen in our minds. I loved your taking me back to the moment I could do this. The freedom of swinging is an inner child feeling I can hold onto.

    • vivinfrance

      09/10/2012 at 1:24 am

      This does truly and succinctly answer the prompt. This tickled my own swinging memory!

  7. barbara_

    03/10/2012 at 5:30 am

  8. carolisle

    03/10/2012 at 11:18 am

    I had plan to go to our tiny beach yesterday so having your prompt in my head helped me pay attention to play. FYI I took a picture of my feet in the water but that’s not in the post. Enjoy

    • margo roby

      04/10/2012 at 8:19 am

      I think, Carolisle, that watching children play with the idea of seeing their emotions can take us a long way towards our own inner child. I don’t know what it is about pictures of feet, but they are fun!

  9. Misky

    03/10/2012 at 11:21 am

    Or possibly even poke at my own childhood memories …


    • margo roby

      04/10/2012 at 8:20 am

      Hello, again! Two reads. Lovely.


  10. PJF Sayers

    03/10/2012 at 2:01 pm

    Margo, I will put this in the folder for later along with Joseph’s prompts. I hope you have fun and safety on your roadtripping, see you when you get back.


    • margo roby

      04/10/2012 at 8:22 am

      Thank you, Pamela. I’m looking forward to the break.


  11. JulesPaige

    04/10/2012 at 3:40 pm

    Margo – Did you pen a tribute to this idea? Where forth art thou?

    Also have a nice Autumn round about. 🙂

    • margo roby

      04/10/2012 at 3:58 pm

      Right here, Jules. I’m working on the caterpillar one I mentioned. As I am incapable of dashing off poems [would so like to be able to do that], I almost never have an example ready for my exercises. I’m always working on them, though.

      Thank you 🙂

  12. vivinfrance

    09/10/2012 at 1:32 am

    It’s taken me a week to come up with this little piece which isn’t even a poem.


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