Monday, October 14, 2013

OctPoWriMo Poetry Prompt Day 14 - Silence

Sometimes silence looks like light.

Today’s prompt may seem like a strange choice: how can we write poetry based in silence? Isn’t silence a place without words and language?


What I would like you to try on is this: settling into internal quiet, stillness, silence, in order to fully experience whatever wants to be experienced through you.

I know, that may sound like gobbledy gook at first– but please trust me.

Right now I hear noise. I hear a dog barking, the television from someplace in the house, a hum of a car’s engine, another dog parking, a train whistle in the distance. I hear my fingers on the keyboard. There were times in elementary school I remember looking for noise so intensely I heard a single tick of the clock.

There is comfort in noise. Sometimes we may say we turn on the television or radio for “company”.

What if instead you chose to experience silence instead? Soon you would discover there are all sorts of sounds you can’t hear when all that static stands between you and the sounds underneath the noise.

Here’s what I would love for you to try – and if you aren’t able to try it – write about noise. Devote yourself to noise, noisyness, sound clutter, cacophony.

Please read these quotes for further inspiration:

“I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.” 

Chaim Potok

“In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.” 


“I love your silences, they are like mine. You are the only being before whom I am not distressed by my own silences. You have a vehement silence, one feels it is charged with essences, it is a strangely alive silence, like a trap open over a well, from which one can hear the secret murmur of the earth itself.” 

Anais Nin

“Silence is a source of Great Strength.” 

Lao Tzu

“From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.”

May Sarton

“Listen closely... the eternal hush of silence goes on and on throughout all this, and has been going on, and will go on and on. This is because the world is nothing but a dream and is just thought of and the everlasting eternity pays no attention to it.” 

Jack Kerouac

Now, for those brave ones out there: 

Look around your surroundings and choose something to gaze upon.

I might choose, for example, a bouquet of paper roses, a painting of the universe over my computer screen, a lamp, a pencil sharpener, a mug of coffee. Anything motionless will work – unless you are looking at a river or an ocean, things that move but have a very quieting effect even while creating sound.

How to do this?
1.       Set a timer – your kitchen timer, cell phone timer or one on your computer will work.
2.      Turn away from any distractions and gaze at your chosen object

    3.       If your mind begins to chatter, take a deep breath and whisper “silence” into your mind

     4. On any occasion of thoughts drifting or eyes leaving the object, whisper “silence” into your mind and take a series of breaths, repeating “silence each time.

    5. Allow your full attention to be on the object you are gazing upon. 

When the five minutes are over and the timer rings, scribble some first impressions and allow those impressions to be the foundation of your poem.

Word Prompt:


Sentence starter prompts:

When I listen to silence, I (see, hear, smell, taste, feel, sense….)

I gaze at ____ in silence and for the first time I notice.....

I remember a poster my father bought for my mother when I was a little girl. The first line said, "Go placidly amidst the noise and haste and remember the peace there may be in silence."
Enjoy this time of silence today.

-- Julie Jordan Scott


  1. No linky?

    Viv, I know what you mean, even the silence makes its racket :D X

  2. I really liked today's prompt. so, here's the link-

  3. Where did Mr. Linky go?

    I tried doing the exercise but failed sharing what I could manage on Silence :)

  4. No linky today?
    Anyways here I go :)

  5. Mine may not be good, but it's short.

  6. That was an interesting exercise, I'm surprised with what it turned into. lol Here's my entry:

  7. I know what you mean. I have tinnitus too. It sucks. :-(

  8. I have linked all these posts :)

  9. Hello... Am kind of new here, but i have a writing piece quite different from todays challenge though.. But i will love us to check by it ....

  10. I ended up revising my original poem, as my "haiku" was 5-5-7 instead of 5-7-5. The mistake challenged me to examine more carefully what essential quality or experience I was trying to express. It was a little awkward, as I'd already published the original poem, but I kind of enjoyed the struggle. And I realized I don't know jack about poetry. :-)

  11. I couldn't comment of Georgias blog... it just refused me? :(