Poem Tryouts: Connections

03 Sep

8:53 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Robbie Williams singing Ain’t That a Kick in the Head

Hello there. I’m running a trifle late, mostly because having said I was doing a found prompt, I had to find the prompt. While I usually do my prep a day, or so, ahead, we were traveling this weekend. While trawling through my voluminous folders, I found a prompt that fit with my travels and made me curious as to what you would come up with.

In June 2012, Matthew and Michael Dickman released Fifty American Plays (Poems) (Copper Canyon Press), a book of poem-plays about the fifty American states. Choose a state (or region or country outside of the United States) that you feel a deep connection to and write a poem about it. Give the reader a sense of the landscape and mood you associate with the place. As an additional challenge, try to convey a sense of the location without ever naming it in the poem. (Poets & Writers, July 19, 2012)

Poets & Writers has a prompt roughly once a month — probably once a month, but there seem to be gaps, possibly in my head — and this is one that intrigues me, now, because I spent the weekend in Kentucky. I had never been in Kentucky before. Last year I visited Tennessee for the first time, and Vermont. Also, Rhode Island. I have been in very few states, so far, but am beginning to cross them off.

Of just those four — not thinking about places in the whole world, too big a scope — I felt an immediate and deep connection to Rhode Island. We don’t always ask ourselves why. We accept a bond and let it go at that. But, why? Why on earth did I feel a deep connection to Rhode Island, within hours of crossing the border? I felt no such connection to whichever state we crossed from — that would have been a new state for me, too.

For this prompt, you may go with the exact instructions, or you can place limits to where you look. I am limiting myself to states in the US where I have a distinct memory. I want the memory to act as a vehicle for conveying my sense of the landscape, to set the mood, to reveal why I feel the way I do.

One of the hardest things to do, at least for me, is to stop and look at something and define how, what and why I feel about any particular place and thing, rather than going along with the feeling. Here’s your chance to stop and think about a place and then put into words that are specific — no vague adjectives and adverbs — your connection, so that we feel it too.

I shall see you Thursday for links; Friday, for the roundup; and next Tuesday for a prompt that uses a specific form of repetition as structural shifts.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 03/09/2013 in exercises, poetry


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29 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Connections

  1. barbara_y

    03/09/2013 at 10:49 am

    Hope you had a nice Kentucky weekend.
    Don’t think this is what P&W had in mind with their prompt, but it came quickly & I’m keeping it.

    • margo roby

      03/09/2013 at 10:56 am

      Well, you know what I think about following directions.

      Had a good weekend, although still trying to figure out how Berea made it into a list of the top 17 hippy places. It’s a stretch. Very pleasant, tiny college town with lots of arts and crafts.

      • barbara_y

        03/09/2013 at 12:23 pm

        I think it’s the whole back-to-the-land philosophy. And the potters and weavers. We visited some of Jim’s friends (from god-knows-when) who lived in a tree house on one of those shady streets.

        • margo roby

          03/09/2013 at 12:30 pm

          Of course he did. How gorgeous. I only do back to the land if it has air con, although the land I am most drawn to is desert. Hm.

  2. Hannah Gosselin

    03/09/2013 at 2:23 pm

    Hiya!! I’m here and it ‘s Tuesday! Kiddo’s back at school and little-un is napping like he used to! Happy poeming-mama here!

    Thank you, Margo!

    • margo roby

      03/09/2013 at 5:10 pm

      YAY! Bring on school. You sound so relaxed, already!

      • Hannah Gosselin

        03/09/2013 at 6:00 pm

        Yeah! Being full-time referee is a tiring/crazy job! 😉 Seriously though…good to have just one during the day…one and a puppy! 🙂

  3. georgeplace2013

    03/09/2013 at 2:39 pm

    Trying out a new blog – not sure I like word press but it may just be that I don’t know my way around yet. Any helpful tips?

    • margo roby

      03/09/2013 at 5:10 pm

      I started with Blogger and really found it limiting [stop throwing things Blogger people]. I love wordpress. I took myself to their help section, which is extensive, and went through from A to Z. Quick and steep learning curve, but well worth it. yell if you have specific questions and you aren’t finding an answer.

  4. Ruth

    03/09/2013 at 3:43 pm

    Actually, Poets & Writers posts a new poetry prompt every Tuesday now (and they also offer weekly fiction and creative non-fiction prompts, for anyone interested).

    Thanks for the prompt, Margo, I decided to have some fun with this one:

    • margo roby

      03/09/2013 at 5:08 pm

      Fun is good, Ruth.

      I get their newsletter with the prompts and it never seems that often. Odd. I do enjoy the prompts and find the prose one are often good for poetry.

  5. julespaige

    03/09/2013 at 8:33 pm

  6. purple

    04/09/2013 at 4:19 am

    connections are such strange creatures … this poem evokes so much in me still even though it represents a place I stayed for a year and a half in 1982 and 1983. the meaning is personal but hopefully the poem speaks and can stand on its own.

    • margo roby

      05/09/2013 at 7:45 am

      They are, aren’t they? My strongest gut connection to a place is the San Jacinto mountains in southern California. I have only been there for an overnight, a half dozen times, but my soul is there.

  7. Misky

    04/09/2013 at 6:08 am

  8. purplepeninportland

    04/09/2013 at 11:55 pm

    Never realized how hard it was to try and make others feel as I do, when drawn deeply to something.

    • margo roby

      05/09/2013 at 7:47 am

      It is, isn’t it, Sara? Makes me feel even more awe for the poets who set out to evoke specific emotional responses.

  9. Carol Carlisle

    05/09/2013 at 3:46 pm

    Catching up, feels good to be back on a regular schedule. So here’s a poem about our new Bay bridge, a connection I do believe

    • margo roby

      05/09/2013 at 4:04 pm

      It’s open?! Yay! Having lived out there every summer since the quake, I feel as if I am part of what happens in the Bay. I look forward to seeing for myself, next summer.
      I have some dance music for you:
      It’s incredible to watch and hard to sit still.

  10. whimsygizmo

    06/09/2013 at 10:13 am

    Hi, there.
    I’m here:

    Oh, how I wish it were so, right now…instead of the first few weeks of school for my kids (including Junior High for our son).

  11. margo roby

    06/09/2013 at 10:38 am

    Hello there, de. I can’t wait. Heading over now.


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