Poem Tryouts: Profile This

11 Jun

7:25 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Neil Diamond singing River Deep, Mountain High

burning well people-silhouette

Hello, all! This should be interesting. While I haven’t quite left yet, my brain clearly has. When I write down ideas for Wordgathering, I jot notes with them. I have a notebook just for that. So, when I went looking for my notes on a profile poem (I mean I thought it fun enough for a summer prompt, thus expected something!), I expected elucidation… not a jot, anywhere. I remember that one of the prompt sites suggested a profile poem last week and I was amused and made a mental note to link to it (yeh, that I remember). However, I find no mention in my Friday Freeforall. Oh my God, I’m hallucinating stuff.

I cannot raise a single brain cell that knows what I meant by a profile poem. This is all to say that we are winging it folks — not something I like doing, but, hey! On looking the word up, something I always do because cool things can happen, I find that profile derives from Late Latin filare “to spin, draw out a line,” from filum “thread”. The meaning “a side view” is from the 1660s; the meaning “biographical sketch, character study” is from the 1730s.

Consider: to spin a thread, a side view, a character study. I am going to give you some possible directions to run with this. Above all, this does not have to be you.

1] Pick a well-known person: a writer, an artist, a celebrity [as in acting, singing, dancing], a politician, a scientist… Ponder your choice while jotting notes on what you know. The jotting is important  as it lets the brain delve. Write us a side view, something people don’t know, but you imagine, given what you do know. You can take a single incident regarding your choice and use it to draw a profile.

2] Pick someone in your every day life, a checkout person, the mailman, gas station attendant… you know the sort of thing I mean. Given the appearance of the person, which you will think on for a while, give us a biography. Each stanza should be an era: As a child… When she was eighteen… In his early twenties… That’s right, total fiction, but your brain will draw on things that make sense to it. One thing: have a thread that continues through each phase.

3] Compose a WANTED poem. A couple of ways to go with this. If you [yes, now it’s you] were wanted by, say the CIA or MI-5, what would the description include? Do some research on this one. You want to catch the right tone. Or, you can write a poem about someone being looked for. Wanted: a baker of banana cream pies. Have fun with this. You may have fun with the others too, but this one encourages play!

4] Come up with your own idea for a profile poem.

Think about form. A haiku might be just right for what you want to do, or you might want to sprawl all over the page. Form equals content.

Right, that should do to be going on with. I wonder whether I will ever remember my original thought. I shall see you Thursday for the Freeforall, as we shall be on the road and heading South, Friday; and next Tuesday for another prompt on the calendar. We’re going tasting!

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 11/06/2013 in exercises, poetry, writing



16 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Profile This

  1. markwindham

    11/06/2013 at 9:17 am

    still not much time for new stuff, June is ‘let’s redefine busy’ month (not complaining…yet). Here is one I think fits the prompt. It is also near the top of my revision list. It needs a lot of stanza moving and trimming, etc. There, I did your commenting for you. 🙂

  2. margo roby

    11/06/2013 at 9:28 am

    You are too good to me 😉

    Remember the bit about stopping to breathe.


    11/06/2013 at 9:39 am

    Funny you should ask for this: I wrote this at the crack of dawn today in response to Victoria Slotto’s piece about poems for fathers. I spent the whole morning searching for and finding a picture of my Dad (pre-digital age,I knew there was one on my computer somewhere), found it, wrote a little haiga on it, and spent another aeon searching for it to add to the poem. Zilch, so I posted the poem sans pic:

    • margo roby

      11/06/2013 at 9:59 am

      I am finding more and more that prompts are serendipitously paralleling.


    11/06/2013 at 9:39 am

    BTW I plan to consider your techniques when I have recovered from my frustration!

    • margo roby

      11/06/2013 at 10:00 am

      I know, ViV. They’ll be here, as will I.

  5. barbara_

    11/06/2013 at 5:03 pm

    Taking a little break. Packing, etc. (Etc=washing all my winter clothes again and stuffing them away, and trying to make the house something I’ll want to come back to in three weeks. ugh)

    • margo roby

      12/06/2013 at 7:06 am

      I figure the house will be so dusty in two months, why do anything. But, I do like to have clean sheets and towels waiting. Have a safe trip. Enjoy.

  6. desertdweller29

    11/06/2013 at 6:44 pm

    Well there’s no such thing as writer’s block with exercises like this. Very interesting. Thanks!

    • margo roby

      12/06/2013 at 7:08 am

      Thank you, desert dweller! There are almost three years of archived material should you be casting around for a spark. The prompts are always Tuesdays.

  7. rosross

    12/06/2013 at 4:21 am

    This was also serendipitous…. certainly salient.

  8. Misky

    13/06/2013 at 12:40 pm

    I was thinking of my father when I wrote this. It might be a bit too obtuse for this prompt but it’s what popped into my head.

    • margo roby

      13/06/2013 at 12:54 pm

      In which case that’s what you write, right?!


    15/06/2013 at 2:41 am

    My newest Poseidon poem fits, your profile prompt, too:

  10. julespaige

    18/06/2013 at 9:09 am

    This haibun fits the ‘profile theme’ as Martha speaks…

    And I believe I remember you like haibun…


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