Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Obviously, because I’m starting to immerse myself in the Oulipost warm-ups for NaPoMo in April, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about constraints, and formal poetry. I usually avoid sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, and the sort like the plague. Not because I don’t like them or feel intimidated, but mainly because they take a lot more time. As I write that, that sounds bad, because it sounds like I don’t spend a lot of time on the poetry I write, but I do – a lot. I guess the thing is, I steal a little time here and a little time there and can write something to my liking that I can work with – a lot quicker. It doesn’t feel forced. When you get into the rhyme schemes and things like that, that can come (not always!) with sonnets, sestinas, etc., it feels like what you can write about is limited.

However, one of my favorite poems to do in form is the pantoum. I’ve had a lot of success with them, and I find that I enjoy what they have to offer. I also love to write haiku and senryu poems which also come with their own rules. But as with anything, rules are meant to be broken – and you’ll find, if you look into these structured poem forms the rules have been broken by many poets throughout the years…even if it’s with tense changes in the pantoum, or the “American-ized” haiku that doesn’t always follow the 5-7-5 rule.

Since in the next month I will be writing a lot more here with the Oulipost assignments (and posting them daily in April!) I thought that I would give you a few ideas for writing some “formal” poetry if that interests you during April – National Poetry Month.

I’ve linked the forms that I’ve mentioned, but below I’ve posted a “template” that I made for my students to use as an exercise – and that can give you something to work with too. Pantoums lend themselves well to things that happen over and over again (such as weight loss, relationships, seasons, history, etc.) I usually work with five-six stanzas myself, but they can be as long as you want, but your last stanza must end with the second line as C and your last line as A. I challenge you to write a pantoum! If you feel so inclined you can share it here in comments, or email me here. Have fun!

Pantoum Poem Template:

A

B

C

D

 

B

E

D

F

 

E

G

F

H

 

G

I

H

J

 

I

C

J

A

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Oulipost Warm-Up

For practice for next month’s NaPoMo we were assigned a warm-up assignment: Blank Verse Amidst The Prose.

If you’re up for the challenge don’t hesitate to “play” along. Here was our assignment:

Compose a poem using unintentional lines of iambic pentameter found in your newspaper (or practice source). Blank verse is poetry written in regular metrical but unrhymed lines, almost always iambic pentameters. More background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blank_verse

Here is my poem:

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Nala and Bugger were locked up, accused

of killing two show-quality pigs last May –

the pair of canines escaped their home

just north of the Ohio-Michigan state line.

Nala and Bugger were deemed guilty in July,

the two dogs have been sitting on death row

awaiting response to their owners desperate appeals.

The general public cries dog law of 1919 cited

in shooting of canines if they attack livestock

should be overturned in Michigan. Breaking:

Nala and Bugger have a reprieve – a stay of execution,

at least until a judge hears their case, this coming Tuesday.

Source: Toledo Blade articles “2 Sylvania Township Dogs are Granted Stay of Execution – March 15, 2014” and “Dog Law of 1919 Cited in Shooting of Canines in 2010 – March 16, 2014.”

Oulipost Assignment #1: Interview

April is National Poetry Month – NaPoMo. For the first time, I’m taking part in Oulipost, which means that I will be writing a poem each day during the month of April and posting it to this blog. And, no, it can’t just be over any old thing! For a definition of what Ouilpo is check here. Along with 82 other official Ouliposters from around the globe (I see that I’m the only one listed from Ohio!) I will be responding to a prompt that is assigned us each day…and we can only work from a daily newspaper. This poetry challenge is sponsored by The Found Poetry Review. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the new work that this endeavor will produce. I hope that you will all follow along with me as I complete this creative journey – and since you’re used to me posting prompts in my weekly Writing Prompt Pit Stop you can step up your game as I will share the daily prompts that I am working on throughout April and you can challenge yourself to write along.

Here is my interview:

1. WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT OULIPOST?
LM: I love challenges and this is a perfect one since it combines my love of poetry and word play, and gives it a twist – to work under certain constraints – ones that I most certainly would not give myself (when the prompts go live, you’ll see what I mean!). That means this will push me out of my comfort zone and that can only make for some new growth, which I welcome. In addition, what’s not to be excited about when I will be creating works alongside other poets from around the world. I look forward to “meeting” new friends and fellow poets as well.

2. WHAT, IF ANYTHING, SCARES YOU ABOUT OULIPOST?
LM: The word mathematics! LOL! Math has been my arch nemesis forever, and maybe I can finally face my fears…. Also, I work with limited time anyway because of teaching writing (and all that grading), and teaching some art classes, so this will force me to really be wise with my own time. Who needs sleep anyway?

3. HAVE YOU WRITTEN EXPERIMENTAL OR FOUND POETRY BEFORE? IF
SO, TELL US ABOUT IT.
LM: I have experimented in a few ways before, but not in the recent past. I did create a found poem that I actually liked from a passage of the novel, Caucasia, that I was teaching a few years back, and I’ve also enjoyed cutting up words and titles out of newspapers and magazines and then making a poem out of what I could. Some worked, some didn’t…but it’s all in the process, right?

4. WHAT NEWSPAPER WILL SERVE AS YOUR SOURCE TEXT?
LM: The Toledo Blade

 5. WHO’S YOUR SPIRIT OULIPIAN?                                                                                 LM: I would be remiss if I did not choose Marcel Duchamp. He seems like a great guide, as I am already familiar with him through visual art, his relationships with the Dada and Surrealism movements, and, of course, his humor.

man ray 1920 joseph stella et marcel duchamp fb_473Marcel Duchamp on R (under pic).

Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! As I’m dreaming of springtime warmth and of spring break next week (even though I’m not going anywhere this year), the last thing that I want in my life is conflict. We all want our lives to run smoothly – good days at work, a great relationship, plenty of money, our favorite songs playing in the background all day, laughter, tasty meals, wonderful conversations with friends and family, sweet dreams and sound sleep, you know, the happily ever after type of life.

However, if your characters have lives that run smoothly in the stories that you tell it will be a real yawner for your readers. The audience wants your character(s) to overcome some obstacle no matter how small…as my favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, said, “Every character should want something, even if it’s a glass of water,” and “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them in order for the reader to see what they are made of.”

So this week try something different in your writing – like really shake things up in your character’s world. And, if you write poetry instead of stories, you’re looking for tension…between words…images…don’t write sing-songy rhyming poems unless you’re looking for work with Hallmark. 😉

Image

This hawk in my neighborhood causes conflict to songbirds and other small creatures. (Ignore the snow in the background as I’m trying to refrain from mentioning winter. ;-))

Conflict and tension – good to use in your thirty-sixth prompt(s):

“Road Blocks and Pot-holes Everywhere!”

1) If you’re writing short stories, creative nonfiction, or plays – what obstacle(s) can you give the character(s) that you’ve created? Don’t hesitate to use something that’s happened in your own life and amplify it in your character’s situation. Is that new sweetie they met online…married? A pervert? 400 lbs? Using someone else’s photo? Have they taken a risk in business or with money they shouldn’t have? Have they shared a secret that they shouldn’t have? There are so many conflicts to use, and as Vonnegut suggests…they don’t always have to be mind-boggling, it could be that they just want something simple but they’re going to have to work to get it…like that “glass of water.”

2) If you’re writing poetry, you can create tension with words and images. How about an unexpected metaphor? If you do like to rhyme – mix it up a bit…make up your own rhyme scheme that creates an unusual tension. Use enjambment in free verse (something that I like to do that sometimes baffles some of my own poet friends, but I like it – what can I say?).

3) As in my photo above, I stated that the hawk creates conflict in nature. Take a look at some of your own photographs – of nature, of family, of friends, what do you notice in the picture that is either a natural conflict, or gives you an idea to conjure some up in a story or a play? In my photo – it’s just a hawk. But I know he’s in my neighborhood where I feed birds, and I see small rabbits and squirrels in my yard….

4) Write in your daybook on any of these prompts for 10 minutes or until your subject runs out of steam! Once you get a good sense of your story/poem/play/essay – then write it out, type it up, and then revise, read it out loud, see if it sounds like you want it to sound. Revise again!

As with all writing, this “Road Blocks and Pot-holes Everywhere!” writing should be fun! And I remind you that 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!

Lylanne