Tag Archives: Holidays

Poem Tryouts: The Truth About Holidays

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


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Happy Holidaying : Tuesday Tryouts

7:29 a.m. — Atlanta

I know you are thinking: Margo, your brain is not awake yet. You have just finished your first cup of coffee. Why are you writing this so early? Well, I was distraught [okay, maybe a little strong, but you get the idea] when I discovered on our return from D.C. that the post I had updated and calendared to go out on Friday, didn’t, or it is floating in cyberspace somewhere…lost and lonely. My apologies for whatever happened. The fault is pretty sure to lie at my door. Perhaps in the pre-travel fugue, I didn’t push the final button.

PAD and NaNoWriMo folks, I salute you. One more day. You should feel good about yourselves whatever amount you accomplished. Anything you did is more than you had before. I picture many brains lying around in a stupor for a few days. I will, as promised, keep things simple.

Pick a holiday, any holiday.

I was so tempted to stop here, if only to imagine your reactions to a short post from me, but you know I have to give you something to play with. I have a couple of options.

After you choose your holiday, jot down everything you associate with that particular day. Write a poem about the holiday using none of those things. This is a good way of writing a fresh poem about any topic where everything associated with it becomes a cliché when written.

The second option if your brain threw its hands up in horror, is to use the holiday as a long line acrostic. The link I have given you will take you to an example, if you haven’t tried a long line acrostic before.

And that, my friends will do it. I shall see you Friday for the roundup and next Tuesday for something. Realising the whole month of December is fraught for most people, I shall continue looking for easy somethings for you to write about when escaping fraught-ness.

Do post links to your poems, whenever you write them. Or, if you are blogless, post the poem in comments. I receive great pleasure reading them, as I am sure you do reading each others.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 29/11/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Monday Mantras: On Hold Until the New Year

9:25 am, Monday, 13 December, 2010 – Atlanta

I do believe in coincidences: I believe when they happen I should check them out, or pay attention. Last week my son asked if I was going to blog over Christmas. He knew I was traveling to my mom’s and things would be busy preparing for a big family Christmas. I blithely answered: Oh yes, and he was briefly silent. Then I came across an article in Suzannah Freeman’s blog Write it Sideways. The article she wrote is “How to Avoid Blogging Burnout During the Holidays“. I read with interest. I blog and there are about to be holidays.

One of the things she talks about is the audience. Never mind the time I will have to find to write one blog. How about the time you need to read however many blogs you follow. I know that on a normal schedule, the blogs I read faithfully are the ones that arrive in my inbox. They make it easy for me. The ones I read the next most faithfully are the ones who have weekly prompts. And, the ones I would like to get to but it’s hit and miss so far, are all the rest. How many blogs do you follow? Are you going to be able to check them, or do anything other than skim them, until after New Year’s?

Suzannah suggests scaling back, and keeping the posts short. So, starting next Monday, I shall. You may see a few word lists, Wordles and images for a couple of weeks. I will take Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off and that takes us into a weekend. Today, rather than give you mantras to ponder at a time of year when you are juggling several things and your brain may be frantically shouting at you all the things you need to get done, I will give you a general suggestion for focus in the next few weeks and a shoutout.

First the Shoutout: Fiona Robyn, writer of the blog A Handful of Stones, wants to try an idea similar to NaNoWriMo, but with short pieces. She says “a river of stones is an international project to encourage people to engage with the world through writing a short observational piece every day during January”. Whether you write prose or poetry, this works. You can spend a month writing short pieces that you can later turn into poems, short or longer, as the muse takes you.


And, for the next few weeks, this craziness of Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not, happens every year. Look for the small nuggets, the scenes, the images that happen only now and jot them into your journal. You can only collect these ideas, scenes, and images once a year, so look closely. Look at things you have not looked at closely before because your mind assigns it to the craziness of the season. Maybe there is something you missed that would make a great poem. I might just post this paragraph for the next couple of weeks

Tomorrow: an exercise in colour.



Posted by on 13/12/2010 in poetry, writing


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