Monday, April 23, 2012

Writing Exercise #79

Sorry I've been blogpostnegligent lately. I will catch up by tomorrow morning. Promise. I was in Bronxeville, New York & spent a good amount of time at the Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival for the past four days, and I am giddy to say it was one of my favorite poetic experiences to date. Such brilliant writers who ALSO read their poems perfectly, which isn't always the case, of course. I think it is important to understand your poem's voice and its oral qualities. Assonance. Musicality. Temper, joy. I didn't even want to read when it was time to read. I wanted to go home and write. Or cartwheel in a field.

I'll base my next five exercises on poems from poets I heard over the weekend.  Here goes:

Write a poem or story about how others changed your name for you over the years. Consider the "firsts" of things. (My first pet was a carnival goldfish I won. I named him Orange Pill, he lived for two years. A record for any small animal in that house at the time. His was the first death I experienced. I couldn't sleep that night, and wound up watching Johnny Carson with my dad. It was monumental, and I always held Carson in my heart the way you might a sweet uncle. Then there was Shawnie, my first kiss. And Mrs. Clemons who liked to pinch me in class when no one was looking). So:

Johnny changed my name to the pulse-glow-dark of the television laughter. Shawnie's  hard kiss in the closet made me want a boy's name. Made me marry girls on the playground. Mrs. Clemons, flesh, thumb and knuckle, put the "ache" in the middle of my name.

If you know the origin or reasoning behind what you were named, include that. But most of all, have fun. There are no rules. Quit thinking there are rules. I'm just giving you suggestions. Flint spark pop wizz.

This exercise was inspired by a tiny moment in this firecracker of a poem by Joshua Marie Wilkinson. BOOM.