Here's the first prompt for the month. I'm sharing this one, but I don't promise to share any others. DAY #1 Prompt: “I remember.”
1. Take five to ten minutes to write “I remember…” lines without stopping. Name specific scenes, moments, descriptions. You might want to try writing this by hand rather than by computer. See the sample poem below for some examples.
2. Consider copying this list and cutting it into separate lines and rearranging them, or rearrange them on your computer document. You could choose your most descriptive or striking or surprising top 10, 20, or 30… Do what you want with these lines to make a poem.
--Keep the “I remember” at the beginning of each line, or don’t. Random and optional word list: test, pleasure, stall, move, path, trace, give, unique, sturdy.
The person who mailed this prompt says this prompt idea came from the book A Primer for Poets & Readers of Poetry, by Gregory Orr. She sent the prompt to me and all the folks who signed up to write yesterday (for today). She said in her note, "...that way we could think about it in our subconscious," and boy, she was right. By the way, I'm hoping all the poems are not this depressing. If you'd like to get an email of my daily poem why not use my contact page to sign-up and let me know. I'll add that once I stepped into this remembering process it resulted in me remembering a bunch of things I really didn't want to - but that's the way it is with memories. You can't turn them off once loosened up. I'm posting day #1's poem here but that doesn't mean I'll post them all here. Well, anyway, just for today, here it is..a poem.
a small wading pool with triangle corners
my grandparents’ hydrangeas
the black and white movie
of driving to the hospital at night
nosebleeds that wouldn’t stop
how my teachers talked about me in 7th grade
appendicitus at eleven
how my mother dressed me like I was a paper doll
like I was her hobby
skating on new asphalt
new surfaces of survival
**LINK to my fundraising page for the Center for New Americans
I call myself writer now and it took me a long time to do it, not that I haven't written my whole life, not that I'm a bad writer, but that the permission hadn't been set in my own brain. I finally got there and that's okay, but when I began calling myself a poet it felt false because of how I had previously defined it. It was the same problem all over again. It was a definition I had constructed that didn't include me. I think we do that - define things so narrowly it's hard to shift into a different mode. And we all have a bit of imposter syndrome going on that taps us on the shoulder and makes us feel uncomfortable, unworthy.
So about this being a poet. Besides writing poetry and having a big pile of poems going back years, and besides writing every day, how can I feel more comfortable about my own definition of myself? Well, I thought of a way. I signed up for 30 Poems in November, a fundraiser for the Center For New Americans. A poem a day - and honestly I'm almost doing that anyway - but it allows me to step into poetry in a more formal way. It's like making a contract with myself to commit to being more present as a poet, to have more intention at least for 30 days. A side benefit is that I'll be connecting with other poets who are of a like mind; who whatever their motivation regarding writing is, they too want to support immigrants. I definitely do. We all struggle but those who come here with no connections are struggling to become part of a community. They're more than a little bit lost. They need connections to food, learning, health providers -- so many things, and CNA does such good work to support them. If you'd like to receive a daily poem from me in November, I invite you to use the form on my website to send me a request. And if you like, make a donation to the Center For New Americans. I'll be here writing poetry. I can do it. I'm a poet.
C. D. Finley
Opinionated, wry, sometimes corny, observational humor mostly about writing, but you never know.