Cha-Cha-Changes

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! What would life be if it was not filled with changes, conflict, and growth? It appears that the older I get that I have not slowed down when it comes to any of the above. Again, I find myself moving…and not just across town…but out of state. I’m packing up my books, my art, and my three cats, and hitting the road. Well, the cats won’t be packed away, but they are in for a long ride of 4.5 hours in their crates. It’s all good, as I am going to my home state, Indiana, and it actually feels right to be “going home” to Indianapolis. If you’ve read many of my blogs here, you know that I’m an adjunct writing instructor. I love to teach, but it’s not gotten any easier to make a living at doing so. It would be grand if I could say I was going home because I’d finally snagged a full-time position, but that isn’t the case. I do, however, have secured adjunct positions for at least three colleges for this Fall.

Yes, I could have stuck with the two or three colleges that I have here in MI/OH, but to be honest, I’m tired of driving across state lines to make a buck, and then losing what I made (read saved to get through the summer months) to state/city taxes (in the state that I don’t live in)…with no guaranteed income during the summer; plus, I just plain miss being nearer my family and a plethora of friends I left behind when I set out on this adventure in my life six years ago. I most certainly will miss the many friends that I have made in Ohio and Michigan, the vast majority are all in my creative tribes: poets, visual artists, playwrights and actors. And, because of those connections, I know we’ll all keep in touch in this social media society that we live in. Not to mention, I really do like to drive and will make the trip back north whenever possible. This is my last weekend in Michigan as a resident, and I will make the move with my howling cats next Friday. Wish me luck! And, who knows – maybe that full-time job is right around the corner…

Because every writer knows that conflict is an integral part to telling any story, or that  tension is needed in poems and plays, here are a few related prompts that might help you get something written regarding your own conflicts or changes in life:

  1. Write about a time that you had to make a decision to change something big in your life. It could be moving, changing jobs, ending a relationship, or going back to school. Mine that writing for an essay or a poem.
  2. If you’re so inclined, after writing about yourself with the above prompt, consider that same conflict/change in regard to a character that you’re working with in a story or a play.
  3. Write about a time that you’ve traveled with your pet(s). Was it a cross country move? Was it bringing the pet home for the first time? How about a funny or crazy time that you took your pet to the vet?
  4. Use these three words in your story/poem/play: packing/money/anxiety.

Have fun with the prompts. If you get anything that you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to post your work in comments, or send me an email at lylanne@lylanne.com

I’ll see you after the move!

Keep writing,

Lylanne

 

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Stuck In “The Office” – A Poem by Lylanne Musselman

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! I’ve been remiss here a few months due to preparing to move back home to IN. But I haven’t stopped writing or submitting my work. Here is my poem posted today on Poetry Breakfast. Enjoy!

I will be back posting Writing Prompts and my musings in July!

Keep writing!
Lylanne

Poetry Breakfast

Stuck In “The Office”

The office is where
my young cousins and I
were shooed off to
whenever the restaurant
got too busy on a weekend
night after a ball game
that brought in hoards
of youth…not much older
than we were…for pizza
and pop, sometimes
the works of everything
out of the fountain, called
a “suicide.”

If we were not sent to
that office, we could get
run down by the teens
pouring into the hottest
restaurant in town, or
burnt by the busy pizza
paddles lifting those pies
in and out of the huge Bunn
ovens, or we could accidentally
trip a waitress carrying
trays full of drinks to
thirsty athletes or cheerleaders.

We always wanted
to be part of the action,
inside that office we could
hear the roar of voices,
the laughter, the excitement
of a world going on without us.
I wonder if that’s why

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NaPoWriMo #30 – Dead End

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, it’s been a big and busy month for this year’s NaPoWriMo. I always enjoy the month though, as even though I try to write something everyday to keep poems, plays, and essays generated – April forces me to make sure that I have something relatively close to a finished poem by the end of each day. This year was no different, and I’m happy to say that I did write to one of the two prompts put out by the NaPoWriMo or the April PAD Challenge sites, and posted to my own blog and to the NaPoWriMo blog every day…even though sometimes it was very near Midnight!

As I post this last poem for National Poetry Month, I just want to mention that as things go back to “normal” that if you do peruse my blog for prompts that I will begin posting once a week again in May – I probably will revert back to my Wednesday posts, but I may even sneak in a few extra blogs as I get inspired myself. And, I will go back and write to some of the prompts that I missed from either NaPoWriMo or the PAD Challenge when I chose the other site’s prompt to work with during April. But I will always start tossing out ones that I’ve come up with as well beginning again in May. So, without further ado – here is my final poem (a senryu) for April, “At Any Station in Life,” the prompt used, and the NaPoWriMo prompt that I didn’t use. Enjoy!

 

At Any Station in Life

“Dead end” sounds so final,
feeling helpless and dumbstruck –
until the phone rings…

The Day 30 PAD Challenge prompt:

Yesterday, the blog seemed to take the haphazard prompt a little too seriously–as some people were able to access the blog while others were not. Our tech team was working on the very unorganized problem and hopefully have a solution, or else the final prompt of the month will live up to its name as well.

For today’s prompt, write a dead end poem. Of course, I was thinking in terms of the challenge, but a dead end can literally mean the end of a person’s life, a dead end road, a dead end job, dead end mortgage, and so on. Take the phrase “dead end” and apply it to a noun, and the possibilities are nearly endless (except, well, there’s the whole “dead end” finality to it, I suppose). I hope it’s fun and that the blog is alive and well today.

The Day 30 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Today I’d like you to try your hand at a translation of your own. If you know a foreign language, you could take a crack at translating a poem by a poet writing in that language. If you don’t know a foreign language, or are up for a different kind of challenge, you could try a homophonic translation. Simply find a poem (or other text) in a language you don’t know, and then “translate” it based on the look or sound of the words. Stuck for a poem to translate? Why not try this one by Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska? Or here’s one by another Laureate, Tomas Transtromer.

As always, if you want to post something, there’s the comments section below!

Keep writing!

Lylanne

NaPoWriMo #29 – I Remember

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! One more day left of NaPoWriMo after this is posted. It is hard to believe! On this next to the last day, I used the prompt from NaPoWriMo, but I didn’t end up sticking with the “I remember” format – instead I just delved into one of the memories and used that. It’s funny, the memory I chose, because it’s not near Christmas, yet today’s weather still feels a bit like December! For some reason the April PAD Challenge site is not opening for me tonight…maybe everyone is hurrying and posting 29 poems there at once! Anyway, here is a snippet of a memory in my poem, “I (used to) Believe in Santa Claus,” and the prompt used.

 
I (used to) Believe in Santa Claus

I rue the day when I heard
Santa Claus was not really real – and
my parents didn’t stick up for my dreams;

crushed were the reasons to watch
for Santa’s sleigh with Rudolph
heading up the herd of reindeers

kick gliding through the air among the stars,
as I sat in the backseat of a warm car on a
dark country road, in PJs, head against the back window

while on a thirty minute ride to celebrate
Christmas Eve with family; dashed was
the wish for snow each year so Santa

could land softly on our roof, even though we
had no chimney to shimmy down
because he was smart enough to find a way

to leave unwrapped gifts near the tree just for me;
with Santa Claus, anything was possible,
until the fateful day Santa became fiction in my eyes.

The Day 29 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Poet and artist Joe Brainard is probably best remembers for his book-length poem/memoir, I Remember. The book consists of a series of statements, all beginning with the phrase “I remember.” Here are a few examples:

I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.

I remember how much I cried seeing South Pacific (the movie) three times.

I remember how good a glass of water can taste after a dish of ice cream.

The specific, sometimes mundane and sometimes zany details of the things Brainard remembers builds up over the course of the book, until you have a good deal of empathy and sympathy for this somewhat odd person that you really feel you’ve gotten to know.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. You could start by adopting Brainard’s uniform habit of starting every line with “I remember,” and then you could either cut out all the instances of “I remember,” or leave them all in, or leave just a few in. At any rate, hopefully you’ll wind up with a poem that is heavy on concrete detail, and which uses that detail as its connective tissue.

If you get anything that you’d like to share, post it below in comments!

Keep writing!

Lylanne

NaPoWriMo #28 – Telling a Story

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Day 28 of NaPoWriMo and the prompt was to tell a story, which is right up my alley since most of my poems I’d consider more “narrative’ than anything. The twist to the prompt was to tell the story backwards. What I worked with is a freewrite from a journal of an event that I experienced a while back and always wanted to do something with (It actually was a time I was a featured reader during National Poetry Month at the Indianapolis Artsgarden a few years back). It may not sound so “backwards,” yet the last 3/4 of the poem used to be the beginning as I was working with it, and I decided to flip it…and it seems much better this way. Anyway, here is my poem, “A Lunchtime Poetry Reading,” the prompt used, and then the April PAD Challenge. Enjoy!

A Lunchtime Poetry Reading

At the Artsgarden, the view of cars
passing beneath my feet traveling
the old National Highway was a high,
as if soaring in the sky; a stalker as
pedestrians scurry outside
to their next important meeting
or place to perch. Classical music
serenades shoppers taking a break
in this transparent room. Sparrows hop
across the floor or flit into indoor planted
trees in search of a better view – some morsel
to sustain a limited living. Poetry was spoken
into the microphone. Onlookers scattered
as if someone had yelled, “Fire!”
Behind the podium, I read my poems,
for those staying behind
to risk a nest of words in their minds –
proving poetry can thrive in a hungry environment,
it can be delivered or taken to go. Lunch poems
if given the chance can live inside the looking glass
where birds are the captive audience,
where people listen without making a peep,
where the trees absorb Monday and digest
a diffuse applause.

Day 28 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that tells a story. But here’s the twist – the story should be told backwards. The first line should say what happened last, and work its way through the past until you get to the beginning. Now, the story doesn’t have to be complicated (it’s probably better if it isn’t)! Here’s a little example I just made up:

The Story of a Day

She lay her head down on the table.
She climbed the stairs to her room and sat down.
The afternoon of the boarding house was cool and dusty.
She walked home slowly, watching the sun settle on brick walls and half-kept gardens.
Work lasted many hours. Office lights buzzing with a faint, mad hum.
Breakfast was a small miracle.
She thought it a wonder, as always, that she’d woken up at all.

Well, that’s kind of unsettling! But I think it works as a poem. Maybe you’ll have better luck working backwards toward a happy beginning.

Day 28 April PAD Challenge prompt:

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Important (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Possible titles could include: “Important Documents,” “Important: Read Before Assembling,” “Important People,” and so on. I hope everyone finds something important to write about today.

If you get something to share, be sure and post it below in comments!

Keep writing!

Lylanne

NaPoWriMo #27 – Long Lines

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s Day 27 of NaPoWriMo and only three more days left in the month. Wow, it’s flying by! Today’s prompt was to write long lines...a la Walt Whitman, or perhaps making a haiku (17 syllables) out of each line; however, as I’ve done with a few other prompts this month…I’ve given myself creative license. So my poem, “A Writer’s Observation,” is practically all one long line…perhaps close to a run-on, yet it’s a very brief poem…but definitely longer than a haiku. Anyway, I had fun because it really is this writer’s observation. Following is my poem, the prompt used, and then the April PAD Challenge prompt. Enjoy!

 

A Writer’s Observation

Hemingway wrote of watching the goat herd travel the morning streets of Paris on his way to a café to write; words for other mammal masses that don’t appreciate the life of a writer any more than those goats in the morning streets appreciate the Eiffel Tower, a good bottle of cabernet sauvignon, or aged brie.

Day 27 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Today’s prompt comes to us from Megan Pattie, who points us to the work of the Irish poet Ciaran Carson, who increasingly writes using very long lines. Carson has stated that his lines are (partly) based on the seventeen syllables of the haiku, and that he strives to achieve the clarity of the haiku in each line. So today, Megan and I collectively challenge you to write a poem with very long lines. You can aim for seventeen syllables, but that’s just a rough guide. If you’re having trouble buying into the concept of long lines, maybe this essay on Whitman’s infamously leggy verse will convince you of their merits.

Day 27 April PAD Challenge prompt:

Happy Administrative Assistant Day! If you’re an administrative assistant, perhaps you’ll get a chuckle out of today’s prompt. If not, I hope you still get something out of it too.

For today’s prompt, write a take off poem. Take off work for you admin assistants out there (and any other workers). Take off a runway–for those of you who like to fly. Take off from a dangerous or weird situation–or maybe even a comfortable one. Or maybe you have a completely different take off of a “take off” poem. Go on and take off on your poetic paths.

If you get something that you would like to share, go ahead and post in comments below!

Keep writing!

Lylanne

NaPoWriMo #26 – Call and Response

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s Day 26…hard to believe there’s only four more days of NaPoWriMo 2016! It’s going by fast…not to mention that its end coordinates with the end of the semester and the big grading frenzy grande finale! Nevertheless, to be able to take a  break and write some thoughts down and formulate them into a poem...well that saves the sanity. Today, the NaPoWriMo prompt was what I followed as it was different for me, and fun to do…a call and response. I didn’t keep with the exact response each time, but I’m the writer so I get to tinker. Does it work? We’ll see. The April PAD Challenge prompt is one that I’ve visited on both sides of the fence…love poems…so  I decided to give that a break! Here is my poem, “Making Healthy Choices, “ followed by the prompt used, and then the PAD prompt. Enjoy!

 
Making Healthy Choices

While all sweet pie types call my name,
pumpkin, cherry sugar cream, lemon meringue,

Eating raw veggies just isn’t the same

Carrot cake with butter crème icing I must refrain,
as too many pounds my hungry body will claim.

Eating broccoli and carrots just isn’t the same

My love of pepperoni pizza isn’t hard to explain,
when I have to go without is when I complain.

Eating unsalted rice cakes just isn’t the same

Cravings for ice cold Coca-Cola – are hard to tame,
but drinking too many I blame for my weight gain,

Eating healthy and drinking water just isn’t the same

It’s comfort foods in life that can ease life’s pain,
but too many donuts and cookies can kill…such a shame.

Eating even more raw veggies just isn’t the same

Day 26 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates a call and response. Calls-and-responses are used in many sermons and hymns (and also in sea chanties!), in which the preacher or singer asks a question or makes an exclamation, and the audience responds with a specific, pre-determined response. (Think: Can I get an amen?, to which the response is AMEN!.). You might think of the response as a sort of refrain or chorus that comes up repeatedly, while the call can vary slightly each time it is used. Here’s a sea chanty example:

Haul on the bowline, our bully ship’s a rolling,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, Kitty is my darlin’,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, Kitty lives in Liverpool,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

The call can be longer than the response, or vice versa. But think of your poem as an interactive exchange between one main speaker and an audience.

Day 26 April PAD Challenge:

For today’s Two-for-Tuesday prompt:

  • Write a love poem. Or…
  • Write an anti-love poem.

If you get anything that you would like to share, put it comments below!

Keep writing!

Lylanne