Tuesday Tryouts: Where Were You When?

06 Jan

7:53 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Audrey Assad singing The House You’re Building

Hello, everyone. It’s good to be back for Tuesdays. I never get tired of looking forward to the poems you write in response to my prompts. For new followers who aren’t sure how Tuesdays work, simply write a poem in response to what you read here, post it on your blog and return here to give us the link, so we can read your poem. On occasions (the poem is short, you don’t want family reading the poem) people have posted their poems in the comments. Visit others and read their poems.

You will note that I do not provide a linking service. For this blog, it’s too formal and it’s easy to see the links amidst the chat. If inclined, please feel welcome to join the chatter. Also, I don’t have a time limit. Some people write and post by day’s end, or the following day; some post several days later. I keep the comments open for six months. If you finally get a poem done three months down the road, post. You are guaranteed one reader, me. For those of you who like to trawl for prompts, and collect them, I have about four years worth.

Ask questions, if you have them. Otherwise, how will you know? Right?

Okay, to today. This morning at a little before six, my husband woke me to watch the launch of a rocket from Cape Canaveral. We saw one launch in early December and were hooked because we have a link that allows us to hear the process. We groaned when we heard ‘actuator shift’ one and a half minutes before take-off and shook our heads when the flight was aborted until Friday morning. But, the excitement I felt watching the rocket sitting on its pad waiting, with the sky black behind it, was not anything I was controlling. It was there. I was in the emotion of the moment, the event.

I know exactly where I was the day JFK was assassinated; for the moon landing; during the Twin Towers. I watched all three as they were happening, because of television. Watching something days later is not the same as knowing something is happening at the same moment you are in front of a screen watching it happen.

I want you to think of a time when you watched something happen, on your television or computer, that evoked a response, of some sort, from you. Put yourself back in that moment, in those emotions and write a poem. You do not have to write about the emotions, but you may. What you write about is, as always, completely up to you.

It does not have to be huge like the events I mention. It can be as seemingly simple as watching a sporting final. I never watch sports unless they are live. Something is lost if I know it has happened, even if I don’t know what happened. The same goes for shows like The Oscars. Something is lost.

Consider point of view. Whether you write the first draft in first person, or third, try a draft with the other. The difference in effect can be startling. They each give you a different scope. If you don’t remember details, make them up. This is not a test. You don’t want a vague poem.

I shall see you Thursday for links, or announcements; Friday for the roundup of this week’s prompt sites; and next Tuesday for another prompt.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 06/01/2015 in exercises, poetry


Tags: ,

35 responses to “Tuesday Tryouts: Where Were You When?


    06/01/2015 at 10:17 am

    A poem may or may not come later. Your prompt took me straight to this moment:-

    He was plastering the wall over the arch leading to the snug, watching the television beside the fire with half an eye. I was upstairs studying a course on the making of the English Language, when he yelled up to me โ€œCome down quickly. This is terrible.โ€

    I slithered down the stairs at top speed, conscious only of the urgency, the fear in his voice. I thought he must have fallen from the step ladder. Then my eyes turned to the screen, to what I thought must be a computer animation in some movie. Slowly, the realisation dawned that this was real, really happening right now.

    The camera zoomed in on an aircraft approaching a skyscraper, to embed itself in the corner with a strange absence of sound, and then all hell breaking loose. It was 9th September 2001, and a second tower block was being destroyed within minutes of the first, with the world looking on, transfixed in horror.

    • margo roby

      06/01/2015 at 10:50 am

      ViV, thanks for writing this down and giving it to us. I have never written down the events of the TTs’ day and may try to, now.

    • Hannah Gosselin

      07/01/2015 at 3:06 pm

      I wrote of the same instance in time, Viv…it’s so interesting to see where you were when I was where I was…it’d be neat to have a whole collection of these memories from this significant date.

      You captured it vividly!

  2. b_young

    06/01/2015 at 10:49 am

    I’ll have to come back and contemplate the way we experience reality, which is what this makes me go toward since I really do forget which things I’ve seen happen, which I’ve seen happen on TV, and which I’ve seen again and again from a variety of angles.

    But for now

    • margo roby

      06/01/2015 at 10:57 am

      What you say makes me want to have you discourse on the whole reality thing. I have memories that are so visually strong I am there, but I often wonder whether it’s because I have heard about whatever so many times.

      Ah yes. I also watched the chase.

      Hey! Are you going to try the FPR April Challenge? It looks like a lot of fun. Misky and I have registered. I’ll be talking about it on Thursday but I shared the link on my FB timeline.

      • b_young

        07/01/2015 at 1:46 pm

        I just signed up. Found poetry is a sort of gray area for me. On one hand, I don’t think that I believe it”s really poetry–hang the definition. But, of course it is. I just have trouble with that wavy line between appropriation and creation. Maybe concentrating on it for a while will help me put a handle on the line (or one on each end, use it for a jump rope)

        Time, reality, memory: Did you know that there’s a recent model for perception that postulates (roughly, very roughly) that the mind is constantly pre-conceiving the reality around it. Sensory experience checks and cancels out what doesn’t fit. The brain is constantly hallucinating a reality to come and constantly overwriting the details. Perception is more of a matter of noticing what’s right or wrong with the projection.

        In this model, two individuals in identical surroundings (in the same time/space if that were possible) would experience different realities. It would be impossible for the two brains to anticipate identically, and unlikely that perception would override pre-conception in all regards.

        If nothing else, it’s as good an explanation as any for why eyewitnesses can’t agree, but if you see the act of perception as active, rather than receptive, small wonder our memory is constantly being adjusted.

        • margo roby

          07/01/2015 at 4:20 pm

          Barbara, i used to feel that way, but having spent two years deep into all the different forms of found poetry, and reading essays on the topic of using other’s work, by writers, artists and critics, I have laid to rest any doubts. The practice of found goes back thousands of years. When the world was smaller and the educated population even more so, it was thought to honour other artists. The Romantic poets turned it into a game to see if anyone could catch the found parts.

          Plagiarism is a whole different category.

          I’ll be damned. That’s fascinating. Also explains deja vu, something I encounter with regularity; always have.

        • Misky

          08/01/2015 at 6:29 am

          1) If I write about the sunrise, am I appropriating nature? If I listen in on another person’s conversation, and then write a poem about that conversation (as you once posted for a Quickly prompt) am I plagiarising by including those words in my poem? To my way of thinking, no. N.O.

          2) Thereby explaining why some people experience anxiety whilst others never will. Perhaps.

          • b_young

            08/01/2015 at 9:34 am

            It’s less the matter of it being someone else’s work that bothers me than the mechanical aspects. The way you, and Margo, amplify kernels–that, I’m fine with as poetry. I would question its being FOUND poetry. Your Bleak House remixes are so much more than the source–if they were mine, I would probably not credit Dickens.

            I suspect a few workouts will make my standards less splintery.

            • barbcrary

              08/01/2015 at 9:45 am

              Barbara, my guess is that you will enjoy this once you embark on it. It exercises your poetry muscles in a whole different way. I am so impressed that Misky has continued to do this with the Dickens remixes. I need someone to keep pushing me along in the right direction, which is exactly what the April challenge provides. Welcome aboard!

            • margo roby

              08/01/2015 at 9:51 am

              The reason for the crediting, if Misk remixes like I do, is that every single word is from the source and often we use whole phrases. I know I don’t go looking for individual words (that, I have a problem with), but collect phrases. You are right when you say the resulting poems can be more than the source. That’s where the crafting comes in, in the remixing. Erasures/blackouts are different in that the scope of words is smaller and the words and phrases must be in the order they are on the page. I find those difficult. Oulipo poetry really does take poetry far from its source, but still… the words are others, the ideas and crafting are ours.

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  4. julespaige

    06/01/2015 at 11:11 am

    Today is a double duty day so I’ll have little time until my charges leave…

    Nothing to do with reality, well perhaps a different kind? (For an MLM prompt)

  5. Misky

    06/01/2015 at 11:14 am

    Welcome back. Here’s mine.

    • margo roby

      06/01/2015 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you! I’m a comin’.

  6. Sasha A. Palmer

    06/01/2015 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Margo,
    Happy New Year to you and everyone here.

    Something about watching things live. Or watching with a whole lot of other people. Back in the day, when my family (like pretty much any other family we knew) had a small black and white TV with four channels, when something good was on, everybody would watch it. There was something special about watching a beloved movie, knowing that the whole country’s watching it with you. I miss that feeling.

    I like the prompt. I actually do this quite often – try to figure out where in life I was when this or that happened.

    • margo roby

      06/01/2015 at 2:32 pm

      Happy New Year, Sasha. Good to see you. You hit it with, ‘knowing that the whole countryโ€™s watching it with you’. There’s a redeeming strength in that shared watching.

    • Hannah Gosselin

      07/01/2015 at 2:54 pm

      I agree with Margo and nod in unison…a distinct feeling indeed. Smiles and a happy New Year to you, Sasha!

  7. barbcrary

    06/01/2015 at 2:49 pm

    She’s baaaaack. I’m finally challenging myself to write on a daily (almost) basis again. This one was fun, although I’m feeling a bit out-of-shape poetically. Thanks for reading, and a happy new year to all!

    • margo roby

      06/01/2015 at 2:57 pm

      Darn tootin’ she is! I’m on my way over.

  8. julespaige

    07/01/2015 at 9:31 am

    Going with fiction here:

    And because ‘you’ wanted more…

    • margo roby

      07/01/2015 at 9:37 am

      That’s right, blame it on the audience ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • julespaige

        07/01/2015 at 9:39 am

        ‘You’ weren’t the only one…

        How about give ‘credit to the audience’? ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. georgeplace2013

    07/01/2015 at 1:16 pm

    I’m fighting a headache today but I promise to be back this evening to read.

    • margo roby

      07/01/2015 at 3:59 pm

      i hope the headache is gone by now. Headaches were part of my life for many, many years. They’re not fun in any shape or size.

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  12. Hannah Gosselin

    07/01/2015 at 2:08 pm

    Hello, Margo!! I’ve missed you and it’s sure nice to be back and writing for a Tuesday Tryout with you! Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • margo roby

      07/01/2015 at 4:05 pm

      Hello, Hannah… also hello to your first hello of the year, which, if I don’t just sweep it in here, may get lost in my inbox! How are you? I have missed you, as well. Are you recovered from Christmas? To another year together ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Hannah Gosselin

        07/01/2015 at 4:14 pm

        Yes, ๐Ÿ™‚ to another year together for sure!

        Christmas was crazy…home mostly but still…the lead up, holiday, throw in my hubby’s and oldest son’s Birthday, (they share the 2nd!), and double the recovery…it was all quite time consuming and the whir of my little computer engine and clackity-racket of black keys were quiet for an extended amount of time…finally trying to get back into the rhythm of things…sigh…finally.

        How was the grand-baby – did you get in lots of snuggle-time with her!! So cute…is she nearly three?

  13. nwian

    07/01/2015 at 2:18 pm Here’s mine ๐Ÿ™‚

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  15. summerstommy2

    07/01/2015 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Margo, this is my first time on your blog. Your prompt led me to write the attached poem. As I explain at the end of my poem it is very pertinent at this time of the year in Australia.

    • margo roby

      07/01/2015 at 5:17 pm

      Hello, and welcome. I’m glad to have someone new stop by with a poem. I’m on my way to your place.

  16. purplepeninportland

    07/01/2015 at 11:31 pm

    So glad you are back, Margo!


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