Poem Tryouts: The Truth About Holidays

02 Dec

holly-bar8:04 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Spirit in the Sky sung by Norman Greenbaum

I love it when my blog snows! No, It does not take much to amuse me. Hello, everyone. I hope you had a lovely holiday, if you had a holiday; otherwise, a lovely weekend. I had a full few days at my Florida brother’s: a six course Chinese feast cooked by him [with my sister-in-law sous chefing]; a Thanksgiving meal cooked by my husband; a ride on my nephew’s suitably powerful motorbike; shuffle-board and bocce, neither of which I had played before; and a drive through a wildlife refuge where we witnessed a feeding frenzy by about sixty spoonbills, egrets, and herons.

But, enough of that. To work. I had planned on a prompt to do with death. On returning from our holiday, I decided that even though I was going to keep it fairly objective, as a topic, this isn’t the time. Maybe in January. Instead, let’s work on a poem suited to the major holidays of this season that don’t talk about those holidays. Got that?

We have Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Boxing Day and Christmas. If there is another you want to play with — winter solstice, anyone? — let us know about it in a short process note. The holiday you choose does not have to be the holiday you celebrate. Pick one (or more) and list the themes associated with the holiday. Writing poetry is communicating truths about people and the world we live in. Good poetry seeks to raise profound questions about truths — which is not to say good poetry can’t be descriptive, but even then, some truth is inherent. We call it theme. You are after a truth of some sort to do with your particular holiday.

Once you have chosen what you want to write about, take the holiday out of the equation. The thing about the broader themes are that they are universal. Write about your theme for a bit. Yes, I’m back to free-writing. Just do it. I’m not kidding. Go on. Once you understand what it is you want to write about in a poem, you may put the holiday back in, if you wish, but it should be secondary to your main point[s]. You are not writing about the holiday. K? Good.

You can choose an incident from your life, the news, whatever, to make your point[s]. You don’t want an amorphous piece of writing that doesn’t offer specific details to make your reader part of the process.

Consider form as a way to enhance what you are writing about. Always consider found poetry. You’d be surprised how found poetry allows for a broader expression of a topic. Enjoy what you discover about your topic.

I will see you Thursday for links; Friday for the roundup; and next Tuesday for a prompt to do with songs we learned as children.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 02/12/2014 in exercises, poetry


Tags: , , ,

28 responses to “Poem Tryouts: The Truth About Holidays

  1. Pingback: Festival | Vivinfrance's Blog

    02/12/2014 at 11:16 am

    Here you are.

    • margo roby

      02/12/2014 at 11:16 am

      First in, ViV!

  3. b_young

    02/12/2014 at 11:26 am

    Don’t think I got quite what I wanted. There was something about whittling twigs to a point to make a spinning top from a thread spool, but that didn’t fit. My uncle was really good with kids.

    • margo roby

      02/12/2014 at 11:28 am

      I can tell you that I sat and reread your comment a number of times while trying to visualise… I keep having to remind myself I’m a tactile learner. I’m coming to see what it’s all about!


      02/12/2014 at 11:36 am

      Well, you got what I wanted!

  4. Misky

    02/12/2014 at 1:44 pm


    • margo roby

      02/12/2014 at 5:13 pm

      Greetings to you, earthling.

      • Misky

        03/12/2014 at 7:01 am


  5. Pingback: Halfway There | Metaphors and Smiles
  6. Hannah Gosselin

    02/12/2014 at 2:14 pm

    I’m easily pleased, too…I was so happy to see the gently falling snow here, Margo.

    Thank you for the inspiration…I’m still in tanka mode…but hopefully I’ll snap out of it soon.

    • margo roby

      02/12/2014 at 5:18 pm

      Noooo! Don’t snap out of it. That, or you have to promise to salt your long poems with short ones. I love your long poems but those short ones: wowee!

      • Hannah Gosselin

        03/12/2014 at 6:38 pm

        Oh good!! Because I’m rather enjoying these short ones…they force me to choose more wisely…funny thing is some of these short ones take longer than my long ones!

  7. Pingback: Phoneography: Saturated and Focus in the Garden The Rain Has Come | Light Words
  8. Carol Carlisle

    02/12/2014 at 6:21 pm

    Ok I double dipped again (shrug) I had a half poem to go with a Christmas cactus photo that I worked over for your Holiday prompt. I expect there will be more coming. the WP snow is so inspiring, it needs it’s own poem😉
    What fun in Florida!
    PS my daughter seemed to enjoy Atlanta.

    • margo roby

      03/12/2014 at 7:41 am

      You’re getting pretty wild there, Carol! Shrug, indeed😉 I love the idea of a poem about WP snow and look forward to your coming up with one!

      I’m glad your daughter liked Atlanta. There is much to like and we’re never sure visitors get to see that.

  9. sonjajohanson10

    02/12/2014 at 8:42 pm

    The Holiday I am referencing is Santa Lucia Day, Dec. 13

    To Boards We Go

    The aunt was the end of it.
    The last lilting speaker who could tell the story
    of the railway workers and the horn full of krona.
    She watched from the kitchen window
    braiding bread beside her translucent mother.
    Carefully chopping the onions, the eggs,
    the beets, moulding the sill salad,
    putting piercing fork-marks in the knäckebröd,
    while the children made forests of icicles.

    Inventing birthday apple pies,
    she paid a bounty for blue seaglass
    to fill the open jar on the shelf
    where the line of red horses waited.
    She paper-pieced tidy chevrons for the bed,
    pressed December spritsar in the dark.

    Without complaint she offered herself.
    Unbroken flesh to the drunken husband,
    averted eyes to the too close cousins.
    A blessing tongue for the addict sons.
    Welcome arms for the awkward children,
    patient back to the angry nephew,
    She stilled the tremors in her father’s hands,
    brought her mother decent coffee in the nursing home.

    When she left she never told.
    There was no time for anyone to stop her.
    Only to drive the bleary, grey highway
    early on the Julian solstice
    warbling for the child of light.


      03/12/2014 at 5:29 am

      What a lovely person. I’d love to know her.

      • georgeplace2013

        03/12/2014 at 6:46 am

        I agree. Beautiful soul you painted here with your words.

    • margo roby

      03/12/2014 at 7:52 am

      Good to see you here, Sonja. I agree with ViV and Debi, on wanting to know her — in many ways this poem allows that. I like the almost triumphant tone of the final stanza despite its ‘bleary, grey’.

  10. georgeplace2013

    02/12/2014 at 8:44 pm

    Hi, long time no see. Glad to be back on board. This isn’t exactly what you asked for but it is the dance my fingers did…

    • margo roby

      03/12/2014 at 7:54 am

      Well, hello there! I was wondering where you had gone. Glad to have you back, Debi. As you know, I am happy with whatever dance occurs!

  11. purplepeninportland

    02/12/2014 at 11:30 pm

    Hi Margo, Your days with family sound wonderful.

    Mine is up at:

  12. markwindham

    03/12/2014 at 10:00 pm

    I started down a very cynical path on this one (I know, Surprise!!). The ‘truth’ part of the prompt wording stuck with me for some reason, and I went down a path of the most important part of the holidays for many is attempting to debunk another’s ‘truth’. But it became too much even for me…so, I went outside and decided on a completely different direction.

    • margo roby

      04/12/2014 at 8:12 am

      You might jot down notes on the other, as something you might come back to when you feel more objective. Sarcasm and irony can keep the emotional caged. Read Wilfred Owens’ ‘Arms and the Boy’ one of my favourite anti-war poems.

  13. Pingback: Revelry in De’Light’ of Saturnalia (for Tuesday Tryouts – The truth about holidays) | Jules Longer Strands of Gems
  14. julespaige

    05/12/2014 at 12:48 pm

    Cynical… Just because I’ve got grandchildren with the ‘Gimmies’.
    Really, we don’t need to go into debt to have fun do we?

    Going back before going forward… I think my notes (Wiki notes) are longer than the poem:

    Happy whatever you celebrate; Bring joy everyday.

    • margo roby

      05/12/2014 at 2:38 pm

      You wouldn’t think so, would you Jules? I’m afraid it’ll get worse before the pendulum starts its swing back, although there are people beginning to say ‘Hey! What’s with the entitlement attitude?!’

      I celebrate whatever I am invited to celebrate! I have a rather omni-?pan-? whatever approach to beliefs. I can get behind bringing joy everyday; just remember to bring the joy back to self!

      Have a safe winter up there.


Leave a Reply to julespaige Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,157 other followers

Build a website with
%d bloggers like this: