Poem Tryouts: To Labour or Not to Labour

16 Sep

9:04 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Queen singing We Are the Champions — gets the blood going, it does

Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Hercules kil...

Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Hercules killing the Nemean Lion 1548, from The Labours of Hercules (1542-1548). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello, everyone. Ready for a little reading? This prompt requires a bit, but I have found you a good source place to make that part easy. Many of you will have read the mythological Labours of Hercules at some point, probably middle school, or you may have read Agatha Christie’s The Labours of Hercules, a slim volume of Hercule Poirot short stories, wherein he chooses his last twelve cases based on each Labour from the myth.

We have choices. They pretty much all require reading the mythical tales and Wikipedia, bless its heart, has a nice short, easy version. When you arrive on the page, you will see the Labours listed. If you are in a hurry, click on the one that stirs a tickle in your mind. Otherwise, read, or skim, the myths. As you do so, let your brain run a commentary, and jot down anything — anything — that pops up.

When Poirot chooses his last cases based on the myths, he picks them because he sees a link (note: I am trying not to use the word metaphor, which sends some of you screaming for the hills). For example, one mythical labour is about a Nemean lion. Poirot’s case involves Pekingeses, the lion dogs of China. You are looking for your own interpretations. They can have to do with the title of the myth, or the story. The links can be as tenuous as you like. If your mind thought it, based on your reading, it’s valid.

You can stick with a single myth, or do a mashup.

You can write an original poem, or a found one.

You can make a list of your own twelve Labours and then create a poem with one of them.

You can write about a current event through the lens of one of the Labours.

If your brain is resisting, consider the original meaning of labour: strive, exert oneself, suffer, be in distress, to work out, toil, work. You get the idea; labouring is something that involves a level of difficulty [and no fun]. Use this as a starting point.

I tend to forget, but if you have questions, for Heaven’s sake, ask. Go forth and labour mightily. I shall see you Thursday for links; Friday for the last introductions of the prompt sites we use (we have a newcomer); and next Tuesday for a borrowed prompt.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 16/09/2014 in exercises, poetry


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20 responses to “Poem Tryouts: To Labour or Not to Labour

  1. georgeplace2013

    16/09/2014 at 11:43 am

    You are a tuff lady. All I can promise is I’ll try. See ya later-I hope.

    • margo roby

      16/09/2014 at 3:35 pm

      I try. Always remember, Debi: when in doubt, punt.

  2. b_young

    16/09/2014 at 1:48 pm

    Have to study on this a while. I suspect the myth is not much like the Herc of the TV series

    • margo roby

      16/09/2014 at 3:36 pm

      Noooo, not quite. I think you’ll like this one, if you find the right tickle.

  3. Pingback: “Found” Below the Lake | The Chalk Hills Journal
  4. Misky

    16/09/2014 at 4:18 pm

    Here’s a bit of ‘Found’ for you.

    • margo roby

      16/09/2014 at 6:09 pm

      Seek and ye shall… I’m on my way.

  5. Pingback: Augean Stables | georgeplacepoetry by Debi Swim
  6. georgeplace2013

    16/09/2014 at 6:41 pm

    I’m sorry I’m so prosaic – I would have loved to come up with something beautifully poetic but my little grey cells do not work that way.

    • margo roby

      18/09/2014 at 9:55 am

      Listen, Debi, I’m not sure I can come up with a metaphor if my life depended on it. My little grey cells do not work that way either. One of the reasons I like found poetry is that I am remixing others’ words! My own poetry is very straight forward.

  7. whimsygizmo

    16/09/2014 at 6:57 pm

    Whew. That was fun. Thank you! 😉

  8. purplepeninportland

    16/09/2014 at 11:45 pm

    Wow, I went off the beaten path with this one!
    Mine is up at:

  9. Misky

    17/09/2014 at 7:26 am

    Or this maybe?

  10. markwindham

    17/09/2014 at 4:48 pm

    ok, so it is more of a ‘recovery from labour’ poem-ish sort of thing… 🙂 It is quite the mash up of form, style, tone and techniques. Might just make your brain hurt.

    still got something niggling (yes, i always blame the use of that word on you) about cleaning out stables though…

    • margo roby

      18/09/2014 at 9:07 am

      But it’s such a good word ;-).

      The Augean stables is one of my favourites. I hope your mind keeps niggling. You know, it sounds like a large scale thing, cleaning out the stables, but it could represent cleaning out a part of one’s life.

  11. barbcrary

    17/09/2014 at 11:30 pm

    I really enjoyed learning as much information as I did from this challenge. The poem itself – I’m not so sure.

    • margo roby

      18/09/2014 at 9:08 am

      Barb, one of my favourite parts of creating prompts is the research.

  12. Misky

    19/09/2014 at 7:53 am

    Might do the series, as time permits.

    • margo roby

      19/09/2014 at 9:36 am

      Now that would be fun. I’m not going anywhere; take as long as you need.

  13. b_young

    19/09/2014 at 12:42 pm

    This was going to be a terzanelle about the nicely naked hero, hercules. But I had trouble with those middle lines. So it’s not.


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