Asking the Way

You fools who ask what god is
should ask what life is instead.
Find a port where lemon trees bloom.
Ask about places to drink in the port.
Ask about the drinkers.
Ask about the lemon trees.
Ask and ask until nothing’s left to ask.

© Ko Un
translated from the Korean by Suji Kwock Kim and Sunja Kim Kwock
from Poetry, November 2014

 

WRITING PROMPTS

1. Select a material object from your daily environment and ask yourself at least 20 questions about it.
2. Speculate on how many people came into contact with the object before it reached your possession. (Even if it’s something you grew or produced yourself, where did the seed or raw materials come from?)
3. Write a poem in praise of the object, and the people and processes it has passed through. Include some praise of yourself in relationship to the object.
4. Send me what you write! I’d love to share it!

 

Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.
Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized

Getting Ready to be Poor

My sister laughs, says she can eat Ramen noodles

for lunch and dinner, instead of just lunch.

It’s no big deal. She’s been poor before.

No washing whites in hot.

No deodorant, floss, Q-tips, Kotex or Midol.

One-ply toilet paper. No Kleenex. No cotton balls.

No new shoes. No espresso. No Red Bull, or Taco Bell.

No vacation, Lord knows, and no cash for the collection plate.

But, she says, I can take on more cleaning jobs. I can do that.

 

Ginger Andrews, from Hurricane Sisters, © 2004

 

 

WRITING PROMPTS:

 

  1. What would you have to do without if you suddenly found yourself with half of your income? Look through your cupboards, refrigerator, pantry, and list the little “extras” that have come into your life. These are the beginning of what you’ll have to give up.
  2. Now walk slowly through each of your rooms. What “essentials” must be sacrificed as you adjust to your reduced circumstances?
  3. Lastly, write a poem about the extra joy you imagine yourself taking on. Give specifics (sounds, odors, objects) associated with this new activity. Be sure to include some description about how you feel stepping into this new position.

 

Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.
Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized

Girl

When I was a girl I didn’t know

I was a girl. I thought I was

more of a pigment, a choral tone,

some kind of weather that disrupts

everyone’s life in the living room.

I knocked over the cast iron iron again,

and this time it broke. How could

you break an iron iron? they yelled,

but how could I not? The weight of

metal on the earth, wanting to return.

When money was missing, I thought surely

I must have taken it.

When it rained, a hurricane this time,

I thought, see what you’ve done now.

I didn’t believe in cause and effect, elements of

surprise, or the slim chance meetings

that changed everyone’s lives. I didn’t know

that people were supposed to end,

contained as vases to hold

whatever you gave them.

 

I thought we were more like land, islands even,

unfurling in the brown haze of the sea.

I thought there was water everywhere,

pouring us into changeable shapes –

leaf or puppy or branch. All falling

toward wherever we came from

not afraid or surprised,

not bad or tricked into good.

 

All falling back into the horizons that come

each evening to meet the fire.

 

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

from Animals in the House, ©2004

 

 

WRITING PROMPTS:

 

  1. What did you believe when you were a child? Did you have a free-floating sense of guilt, as the poet expresses here? Did you blame yourself for random “crimes?” Did you believe you possessed extraordinary powers?
  2. What family messages did you receive when you were growing up? Write a list poem called “What They Used to Tell Me” and capture some of these messages, positive or negative.
  3. If you were a color instead of a person, what color would you be? Write a description of yourself as that color and its many hues.
Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.
Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized

Hippos on Holiday

is not really the title of a movie

but if it was I would be sure to see it.

I love their short legs and big heads,

the whole hippo look.

Hundreds of them would frolic

in the mud of a wide, slow-moving river,

and I would eat my popcorn

in the dark of a neighborhood theater.

When they opened their enormous mouths

lined with big stubby teeth

I would drink my enormous Coke.

 

I would be both in my seat

and in the water playing with the hippos,

which is the way it is

with a truly great movie.

Only a mean-spirited reviewer

would ask on holiday from what?

 

Billy Collins, from Aimless Love

 


 

WRITING PROMPTS:

 

  1. Imagine you are in a theater, watching a movie about your favorite animal. It is happy and safe in its natural environment. Write about what you experience. How do you feel watching this animal free and wild?
  2. Now become that animal yourself. Close your eyes and really inhabit its skin, fur, feathers, or scales. What do you smell, feel, see, hear, taste? Are you alone or with others of your kind? What activities will you pursue today? 
  3. Write an acrostic poem using the letters H-I-P-P-O to begin the first lines, or use the name of your own animal. Don’t stop at just one! This is a great way to keep your mind and vocabulary limber.

 

Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.
Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized