Poem Tryouts: Wide Open Spaces

14 Oct

7:56 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Home From the Forest sung by Gordon Lightfoot

Hello, all. I am back from an exhilarating four days with our son, his wife, and our grand-daughter who is the bees knees. They live in one of Vermont’s many tiny urban areas [really, it’s a village], surrounded by the countryside — yes, the leaves were gorgeous. That leads us into our prompt. No, not the leaves, but urban versus rural.

The novel Once Upon a River, by  Bonnie Jo Campbell, emphasises ‘landscapes liberating wildness‘. For our purposes, landscape is an  expanse of rural scenery, usually extensive, that can be seen from a single viewpoint. Landscape implies few, if any, buildings. While it does not cover the sea because, well, it’s land, I often see it used inclusively.

Wherever you are, picture a landscape, or several landscapes, and jot notes on how you feel, or what you think, about those scapes. If you need visuals trawl through Google’s images — their choices are interesting. I caught myself mentally putting together a Pinterest board and realised my choices of landscape would differ from Google’s collection.

Okay? Thoroughly inhabiting your feelings about non-urban places? Here’s my question for you: Do you try to escape civilization or to make peace with it? Didn’t expect that, did you?

Having made you inhabit landscapes for a while, you may, of course, write about the ‘liberating wildness’ and what that means to you (or your speaker, if you decide to present another point of view). If you go this way, you might allude to the confinement felt in so-called civilization.

Or, you can focus on civilisation as a cage, something that blocks freedom — what freedoms are inhibited is up to you.

Or, you might see wide open spaces as the inhibitor. You might want to write about the liberating freedom of Costco, or a mall, or downtown, places with plenty of people and things.

I realise I’m giving you a somewhat loose exercise, but I’m curious about it all. You might write a point counterpoint poem, where landscape and cityscape are pitted against each other, or rub shoulders in an uneasy alliance.

Go to it! I shall see you Thursday for links; Friday for this week’s prompt sites roundup; and next Tuesday for the next prompt from me.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 14/10/2014 in exercises, poems, poetry


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32 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Wide Open Spaces

  1. Pingback: Old Bones and Birch Trees | The Chalk Hills Journal
  2. Misky

    14/10/2014 at 9:38 am

    Hello. Welcome back.

    • margo roby

      14/10/2014 at 9:44 am

      Thank you. To you, too. All that lovely cheese.

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  4. b_young

    14/10/2014 at 11:35 am

    Green, green (it’s green they say) No color much to speak of here. My birthday month is being bland. It needs to get down to business before next Tuesday.

    • margo roby

      14/10/2014 at 11:41 am

      On the far side of the hill! Yes. HK liked the song so I heard it a lot on the radio.

      Yeh. Atlanta is green. The trees don’t even look like they are considering turning. Next Tuesday, huh? I’ll see what I can do.

      I want you to know that I am working on play poems even as I type to you — it’s a break. I don’t seem to play terribly well poetically, but I shall pursue.

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  6. Hannah Gosselin

    14/10/2014 at 1:09 pm

    This was fun…thank you for this, Margo! I’m glad that you had a fun time and thank you for passing on the squeezes. 🙂

    • Hannah Gosselin

      14/10/2014 at 1:51 pm

      This post name keeps causing me to think of a song…and so…

      listening to, “Into the Great Wide Open,” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. 🙂

      • margo roby

        16/10/2014 at 7:57 am

        Listening to it now. Perfect.


    14/10/2014 at 1:20 pm

    Wide Open Spaces

    As my physical horizons diminish,
    so my need for open views expands,
    the ache for space is not extinguished.
    I thank God for the green farm lands
    that surround and delight me.

    • Hannah Gosselin

      14/10/2014 at 1:48 pm

      The image that accompanies this is breath-taking…I love the way the sky is framed by such lushness. 🙂

    • margo roby

      16/10/2014 at 8:00 am

      Hmmm. Could have sworn I responded — no comments on failing brain cells needed, thank you! This makes me think of my mother who is pretty much confined to a chair. One of the best things we did when we chose her flat was to pick one that looks into trees rather than the city that surrounds her.

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  10. georgeplace2013

    14/10/2014 at 2:18 pm

  11. purplepeninportland

    14/10/2014 at 11:10 pm

    I spent a long, lovely time gazing at those landscapes. Thanks, Margo!
    Mine is up at:

    • margo roby

      16/10/2014 at 8:04 am

      Google image pages are dangerous!

      • purplepeninportland

        18/10/2014 at 12:37 pm

        I know! I can get lost in them for hours. Proves there is so much beauty in the world.

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  14. julespaige

    15/10/2014 at 7:32 am

    OK a bit of a stretched combo here. Time to use a little imagination as well…

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  16. Misky

    15/10/2014 at 7:57 am

    I’m kinda having fun with this prompt.

    • margo roby

      15/10/2014 at 7:58 am

      Well then, keep writing.

  17. Patricia A. McGoldrick

    16/10/2014 at 12:03 am

    So enjoyed this food for thought, Margo! Tonight, I listened to the Lightfoot song. Gordon Lightfoot is a long-time favourite for me and so many others growing up in Canada. As for the response to your prompt, I posted my thoughts at Thanks for the prompt!

    • margo roby

      16/10/2014 at 7:48 am

      I enjoyed seeing you here, Patricia. Lightfoot is one of my favourites. I first met his songs in 1969, as a freshman in college. I’ve been a fan ever since.

      I enjoyed reading your thoughts as much as I did the haiku. The two places we live, Atlanta and San Antonio, are two of the greenest in the US in terms of trees. In Atlanta, I have lived in the canopy of a sugar maple for four years [7th floor of a block of flats], now. I treasure the tree and the experience.

  18. markwindham

    16/10/2014 at 8:55 am

    another late night purge..too busy to process during the day, and then when i get in bed the brain goes “hey, remember that prompt?”. This veered quite a bit from my original intent…yeah, that never happens. 🙂

    • margo roby

      16/10/2014 at 8:56 am

      Laughing. It’s good you listen to your brain.

      I’ll read it as soon as I post the blog.

  19. rosross

    21/10/2014 at 8:09 am

    The language of landscape … eternal.

    • margo roby

      21/10/2014 at 8:26 am

      It is, isn’t it, Ros? I never tire of looking at and listening to that language.

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