Sunday, May 8, 2016

Poetry Prompt: Inspired by Emily Dickinson & Your To-Do's

Today’s prompt was inspired by two things: 

One: The understanding we are, each of us, quirky.

Two:  If one of literary history’s very quirkiest members, Emily Dickinson, had a to-do list, it might read like the poem below.

Therefore, our idiosyncratic ways may also be fashioned into a poem.

Earlier today my children and I were discussing what our own poems might focus on. “Existential dread,” suggested eighteen-year-old Emma. "My poem would go something like this:

"Monday – feel existential dread

Take a nap

Eat mac and cheese

Consider the sadness of dairy farmers

Express angst while singing in the shower

Express existential dread on social media

Nap again"

My son got a giggle when I suggested his would say,

“Put on a yellow t-shirt and denim shorts.

Nintendo 3DSXL in Mom’s glove compartment

Be the first one to wait for the bus."

The next day might say:

"Put on a yellow t-shirt... with lettering? and denim shorts.
Nintendo 3DSXL in Mom's glove compartment
Let some one else be the first one to wait for the bus""

We all have our set patterns and don’t use our highly practiced intellectual curiosity to change anything in our behavior, just as Emily Dickinson appeared to really like white dresses!

Step 1: Read the Poem:

Emily Dickinson's To-Do List
by Andrea Carlisle

Figure out what to wear—white dress?
Put hair in bun
Bake gingerbread for Sue
Peer out window at passersby
Write poem
Hide poem

White dress? Off-white dress?
Feed cats
Chat with Lavinia
Work in garden
Letter to T.W.H.

White dress or what?
Eavesdrop on visitors from behind door
Write poem
Hide poem

Try on new white dress
Gardening—watch out for narrow fellows in grass!
Gingerbread, cakes, treats
Poems: Write and hide them

Embroider sash for white dress
Write poetry
Water flowers on windowsill
Hide everything

= = =

Step 2:
Make a list of up to five of your idiosyncrasies

Step 3:
Add variations to your idiosyncrasies (like Emily Dickinson’s questioning of her white dress)

Step 4:
Shuffle the list of idiosyncrasies

Step 5:
Write your poem!

For an extra challenge, play with onomatopoeia by purposefully injecting sound words into lines of your poem. Think about how they might fit that is quirky, fun and unexpected yet makes sense.


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