Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to another Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s already Wednesday again…where does the time go?

As promised, here I am with another prompt to hopefully inspire some new writing whether it be a poem, a flash fiction, an essay, or even a 10-minute play.

If you love to write, then you no doubt (at least you should!) have favorite writers. I know I do. When it comes to poets, my favorite – and one that I read often is Frank O’Hara. When it comes to fiction, it’s Kurt Vonnegut – I’ve read every one of his novels, all collections of his short stories, and his essays. My bookshelves are full of books by these two, among many others – and no, I don’t shun women poets and writers; it’s just that I happen to like O’Hara’s playfulness, and Vonnegut’s satire. Now I feel guilty, so not to slight them, here are some of my favorite women writers (that also line my bookshelves): Toni Morrison, Jhumpa Lahiri, Flannery O’Conner, Gwendolyn Brooks, Naomi Shihab Nye, Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Rich, among many, many others. I could write lists all day of all of the writers I admire, but then that wouldn’t get to the prompt, or get any of my own writing done. Maybe from time to time I’ll toss in a writer/poet you should know along with the new prompt.

Nevertheless, how do my favorites relate to a new writing prompt? Well, if you’re like me, those favorites are writers/poets that we emulate and know a lot about, so why not use that passion of their work (and of the knowledge we have of them) to enter into your own writing?

Some of the writers that I listed above are still alive, but what if you could have a conversation today with one of your favorites that’s no longer with us? I have been working on a series of poems on the premise of “Resurrecting Poets/Writers” in whatever recent year I choose. My poem, “Resurrecting Poets in 2010” was published in Tipton Poetry Journal, and is included in my chapbook, Winged Graffiti (Finishing Line Press, 2011). I will include a couple of stanzas here:

If he returned to 2010, / would Frank O’Hara write lunch poems / on a laptop in Starbucks / or text his next “I do this, I do that” poem / to Bill Berkson on a Blackberry?

Would Gertrude Stein post mug shots / of Alice B. on Facebook, / share photos of Picasso from her parlor, / and write thoughts of writing thoughts, / of thoughts writing thoughts….

You can see how I took some of my favorites and included them in my poem.

Another in the series, my poem, “Resurrecting Poets in 2012,” appears in Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013), and includes Elizabeth Bishop, and Emily Dickinson, among others.

A good prompt idea would be to chat with some literary hero/heroine, bring them back to life so to speak. So here’s the third prompt:

“A Conversation with (Name Your Literary Hero/Heroine)”

Choose your setting – is it a coffee shop? a bar? a bus stop? your living room? The possibilities are endless.

Think of a question to start the conversation and then start writing the dialogue between you. Is there anyone else that appears?

Keep writing until your conversation is exhausted. Cut anything that you feel is useless or redundant; add anything that you feel the writing needs. Once you do that, revise it again!

Since dialogues can be used in poems, flash fiction, and essays – you could try your hand at one of those genres, but maybe you’ll end up with a 10-minute play that you didn’t even know you could write! No matter what, with your favorite writer being included in your work, and you guiding the conversation, your voice will definitely shine through.

As with all writing, it should be fun! If you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.

Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!


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