Saturday, October 31, 2015

Poetry Prompt #39: Write Your Own Halloween (A Guided Prompt)

Incidentally, my Saturday prompt has arrived in due time for a Halloween celebration.  So our prompt for today is going to be ghoulishly fun!  Light a candle, turn on some creepy Halloween music and write yourself silly scared in the form of a poem, short story, or flash fiction.

Step 1:  Choose your location from the list:

A haunted house
A hay ride
An old, ancient graveyard
A masquerade party
A funeral parlour
Dark cornfields at midnight

Step 2:  Choose SIX words from the following list (use more if you feel up to the challenge):

candle stick
night owl
train tracks
gas lights

Step 3:  You must include at least TWO of the characters below (use more if you fancy):

a nurse
a gothic lady
a tormented ghost
a body snatcher
an orphaned girl
a walking corpse
a ghost
a madman
a prison escapee
a teenager lost in the dark
a beautiful lady who has left some party upset
a hitchhiker

Step 4:  You MUST include this line somewhere in your writing:

"Hell fancies a frightened soul."

Step 5:  Use two lines to describe the eerie night sky in detail (this may be inserted anywhere in your writing).

Step 6:  THREE of the following sounds MUST appear somewhere in your writing:


Step 7:  End your piece with a grotesque scene.  Something gory or bloody or just downright creepy or crude.  Think horror movies or The Twilight Zone.

Most of all, Happy Halloween my fellow horror fans and candy fiends!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Poetry Prompt #38: Memory Writes

It is important to remember.  Without a past...a digesting of things gone, times we've left behind can we ever properly define our present, or understand the future when it does arrive?

Despite the idea that the past is the past (and it is, don't misunderstand there is no going back there again), the past also has much to do with who we are and what we have become.  In a cause and effect sort of way, the present can be defined by the past (it doesn't have to be, though).

Depending on what has happened, the events and words and images of our pasts that we have stored in the closets of our minds, the past can represent something positive (personal growth and overcoming defeating obstacles) or they can represent a time we'd rather forget (an accident that changed our lives, losses that occurred and changed us in some way).

I think, as writers (as people, in general, but especially for writers), it is important to understand our past.  To examine it.  We can cultivate our past for writing material much the same that we can study the past in order to change the present and modify the future.

So, for this week, we are going to call upon our memories of the past and incorporate those memories into our writing.

Consider these pointers as you attempt to write about your past/memories:

1.  Spark your memory with old photos.  There's no better way of pulling you back in time to your early childhood, than seeing a picture of yourself at that age.  Look at pictures, consider what was happening in them...try to remember interactions, conversations, smells, the surroundings.

2.  Look at memory books, scrapbooks, and old yearbooks.  This will help you pinpoint some important milestones and memories that you made an attempt to preserve.  Think about why they were important to you then and what they mean to you now.

3.  Do you have keepsakes you have kept...old letters from friends in high school, college textbooks, diplomas, cards, invitations, flyers?  Not only will this pull you back into another place and may find you are remembering things you thought you had forgotten.

4.  Look around the house for old things/items/memorabilia that have been passed down to you from other family members.  Think of all the places, the history of these items and what that means to you and who you are.  You can also write about the people who owned them, who those people were.  For example, who was your grandmother at thirty when she opened a gift from your grandfather, a porcelain vase that was handed down to you thirty years later?

5.  Make lists of friends who have exited your life (for whatever reasons).  Make lists of family members who have passed away.  Relationships you had during certain eras of your life.  Still yet, make another list of family members who are living.  Think of prominent memories you shared with these people, important events, words they said to you that meant something.  Write about these memories, how they defined an era or your life.    Write about their relation to who you are today.  Did any of these people, or your experiences with them, mold you into who you are right now?

6.  Holidays, marriages, deaths, births, divorces, graduations, birthday parties, family reunions, vacations, natural disasters, accidents.  These are all excellent material to be cultivated for writing.  Recalling these events may also help you spark memories you'd forgotten or hadn't thought of in years.

7.  Buy, and keep, a small notebook for writing with your memories.  The past is a large and vast reservoir of writing material, you need only dig and hone into these memories...use them for your creative endeavors!

8.  Start keeping a journal.  The things that happen to you today will be merely memories five years from now.  Write in detail as much as often, the events (especially important or defining events) so you can have a clear, precise record for memory writing in the future!

I hope you all enjoy your stroll down memory lane!  Safe travels until next week, friends!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Poetry Prompt #37: Autumn Chill

Hello writers and friends.  It's mid-October here!  It's getting chilly out there, but I also want you to just chill out....hence the title of the prompt this week.

It's a crazy time of year, right?  School has started back...maybe you're midway through another semester of college (or another semester teaching college).  The kids have started back to school.  Halloween is a few weeks away...Thanksgiving is next month and Christmas is merely two months away.  Yes, hectic is the perfect description.

Not today, though!  I have the perfect remedy for your tiresome woes.

This prompt is all about setting the mood, creating an atmosphere where creativity can flourish, and relaxing into yourself.  No difficult word maneuvers this week.  No form to keep beat to.  No specific words or images.  Just the mood and you!

Follow These Steps:

1.  Make some time alone.  Either pick a time when no one else will be home at all (if you can find that pleasure in your busy life) or choose a time when you can go into a room and be alone with minimal distraction/interruption.

2.  Make sure you're warm and comfortable.  Whatever makes you comfy, go change into it.  Is it those old fuzzy socks you've had forever?  The hoodie with a hole in the sleeve?  Your bath robe?  Who cares, anything goes.  You are alone, the object is to make yourself as comfy as possible.

3.  Turn the lights down low...but keep enough light to be able to read and write without straining your eyes.  Turn a lamp on.  Light some candles...candles are a must!  I use them to meditate, I also light them when I'm writing and they work wonderfully for relaxation.  A lit candle burner also works perfectly.  If you have a fireplace, light it up!

4.  Have your favorite drink.  Coffee is my absolute favorite.  Sweet tea comes in second.  Maybe you like those or maybe you prefer hot chocolate, wine, warm lemon water.  Whatever drink helps you to maintain that relaxed, laid back mood....have that.

5.  Turn on some relaxing background music.  Make sure it's low...barely audible.  Remember, the object is to write, not merely listen to music.  Choose something with music or lyrics that you find uplifting or inspiring.  I love indie music, and oftentimes I write to Iron and Wine or Bon Iver for their calming sound and thought-provoking, poetic lyrics.  You can try one of those, or choose one of your own favorites.

6.  Find a comfy spot...a favorite chair, the middle of your bed, the window seat with a view of the street outside....just wherever you can sit and be comfy for a prolonged amount of time...sit down.  I've been known to sit with my back to the couch, the bed...I've used my coffee table for a desk, the stairs (they always seem so private).

7.  Now that you are comfy, the lights are low, you have your favorite sitting spot, some good music turned down low and a nice drink...grab your notebook and just begin to write!

Don't time yourself.  Don't stare at the clock.  Just relax into the moment...a sort of warm, cozy meditation, and begin to write down whatever things  come to mind.

Maybe you'll just end up venting...I like to call venting 'mental dumping,' pulling away the dusty film that settles at the forefront of the mind.  Once that film is removed, ideas are more readily born.

Maybe you'll just journal write...a memory, how happy you feel right now.  Perhaps you'll think about a problem...and this is a perfect time to resolve it, while you are alone with yourself.

Or, just maybe, you'll sketch out the beginning of a great literary piece...a poem, idea for a short story, a creative business idea.

If you get really lucky..maybe you'll write a poem.

It's okay if you don't end up writing anything publishable, or even anything you want to share with anyone else.

The idea of this prompt is to bring you back to yourself.  To bring yourself to the pleasure of basic writing.  Writing because you enjoy it and it brings you pleasure.  Writing for yourself without ever worrying about how great what you write will be once it's down on paper.

I'm wishing you all a cozy, happy Autumn.  Go out and enjoy the colors, it won't be long before everything is white again!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Poetry Prompt #36: Art Work & A Word List

The last few weeks we've really been writing hard....trying new forms of poetry (and hopefully learning a few things).

This week we're going to take a more relaxed approach.  We're going to write a poem by combining a photo with a word list.

For part one  I am going to provide you with an interesting piece of art for inspiration:

Gaze into the artwork above and consider the following:  atmosphere, mood, persona of the individual.  What is she doing?  Where is she at?  It appears to be night time, as the sky is dark and the moon has made an appearance.  Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the photo and reflect on what, exactly, is happening at the exact moment in time.  Write down any and all ideas.

Now, for part two, you are going to use the inspiration and ideas you wrote down for part one, and combine them with the following word list, to  create a unique poem.

Word List:


Relax into the writing and enjoy yourself.  Remember, you don't always have to write a poem.  You can incorporate this prompt into character sketching, flash fiction, even a short story or a journal entry.

Share your work in the comments if you wish!

Friday, October 9, 2015

I Must Make a Confession

....I love confessional poetry (no pun intended).

Although we recently touched lightly on the topic of confessional poetry in a previous Saturday Prompt, today I wanted to delve a little more deeply into the confessional poets.

During my research of this writing style, three major poets keep reappearing:  Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Robert Lowell.  I'm quite familiar (as well as enamored) by the work of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, haven taken Major Author courses on their work during my undergraduate studies.

Take this definition into consideration:

I suppose the key words here pertain to 'poets write about their own personal experience in an open, direct style.'  This is what sets confessional poetry apart from other types of poetry like, say, lyric poetry or haiku poems constructed upon mere observance (to name only a few sparse topics).

Or how about this one:

So confessional poetry deals with taboo subjects that people do not normally speak of publicly.  The definition includes death, trauma, depression, but if we were to branch those three areas out, we'd come up with too many to even list.  But the main idea of confessional poetry, I think, is always that it is written of personal, the face-to-face.  A type of writing that requires feeling with your heart and your body and soul.  An experience, that although it may have happened to a million people a million times before, has been individualized by the poet through his personal reflections and reactions to the event, portrayed in his/her own words and voice.

I have always felt that most confessional poems seem to derive themselves from memory.  They are so detailed to the individual experience.  For example, would anyone else compare the birth of their child to 'a fat gold watch that love set going' as Sylvia Plath did in her poem Morning Song?  

I also really love this image I stumbled across in my search:

I suppose it's safe to say that many confessional poems are the struggling births of some type of suffering.  But I do not believe confessional poems are limited only to suffering, as you can see from Anne Sextons poem Barefoot, confessional poems may also inhabit a sense of ecstasy, love, happiness, fond remembrance, nostalgia, elation.

Take, for instance, the mind-mapping done below on the work of Sylvia Plath and the subject matter she utilized for her work:

The first time I ever read Plath, I found her concrete (yet symbolic) in her references to the surrounding world.  And I found her angry; she spoke with a sense of fiery and desolation that I had not yet discovered in another poet (until I was introduced to the work of Sexton later on).  In reference to the image above, it seems many of Plath's pieces really were about life-altering personal experiences that effected her.  And, like many of us, I think she decided to write through them in order to make sense of the emotions attached to each event.

As a poet,  I view confessional poetry as a form of self-excavation (you could probably say that of poetry, in general, if you wanted), a type of pulling from inside yourself things that hurt, carrying memories onto the page as you would a stubborn child, kicking and screaming.  I've also experienced the type of confessional poem that pushes from your insides, an exhale, an exhiliarting invisible fist burning the center of your being until you give words and names to the things that are incinerating you from the inside out.

Explore confessional poetry written by various poets in the following links:

Daddy by Sylvia Plath

Brown Circle by Louise Gluck

Menstruation at Forty by Anne Sexton 

Loveliest Grotesque by Sandra Lim

Dusk Waitress by Claire Millikin

Twenty Weeks by Jennifer K. Sweeney

Time Problem by Brenda Hillman

Thursday, October 8, 2015

"Far Stars" K.J. Hannah Greenberg

Far stars shine brightly.
Autumnal skies bring nightfall.
Darkness evokes calm.


KJ Hannah Greenberg is the author of more than a dozen books. Her writing has received National Endowment for the Humanities funding and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Million Writers Award, and The Best of the Net. Hannah's newest books are: The Immediacy of Emotional Kerfuffles, 2nd ed. (Bards and Sages Publishing, 2015), and Dancing with Hedgehogs, (Fowlpox Press, 2014). Hannah lives and creates in Jerusalem.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Poetry Prompt #35: Beat Poetry

The Beat generation of poets resurrected themselves from the mainstream during the 1950's and paved their nonconformist ways into the early 60's.

Surmised of poets such as Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder (to mention only the most prominent) wrote poetry that revoked the ideas of modern-day society and customs they felt were outdated.  The Beat poets revered social freedom, spiritual liberation, and the extol of a society that was set only to limit the individual from self-actualization.  They wrote diligently of a generation desperate to separate themselves from undue materialism, consumerism, and militarism.

Such poets sought a higher spiritual realm for which they could connect more deeply with themselves (and relate more meaningfully with each other) and many of them experimented with psychedelic drugs, others turned to Eastern religion, meditation, and Buddhism as a spiritual source of inspiration.

I have numerous books of Ginsberg and one of Ferlinghetti, and the resounding message I always receive when perusing their words is their defiant rejection of conformity...both literary and lifestyle.  I don't know why, but I'm particularly enamored with Ginsberg's attitude that he really could give two shits about what anyone else thought outside himself.  Take the following poem as a perfect example (which is one of my personal favorites, for what other poet has ever been brave enough to just put it 'in your face' this way?)

by Allen Ginsberg

Kissass is the Part of Peace
America will have to Kissass Mother Earth
Whites have to Kissass Blacks, for Peace & Pleasure,
Only Pathway to Peace, Kissass.

Even in today's world of publishing, you see poets battle against each other for who can say what most eloquently and win the prize of most published.  It really makes a reader stop to ponder if material was written for the basic conquest of publishable rather than because it meant something to the writer at all.  Consider that idea as you read the following poem by Ferlinghetti:

Constantly Risking Absurdity
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
performing entrachats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence

So this week, I challenge you to write some of your own beat poetry.

Consider the following tips:

1.  Try meditation as a pre-writing warm-up.  Make an effort to get in-tune with your higher self on a more conscious level.  

2.  Ask yourself "Who am I?"  and "What do I really believe in?"  or "What do I want my writing to stand for?"

3.  Jot down a list of social norms and societal customs that you totally disagree with.  These could range from organized religion to gender expectations.

4.  Think about laws, ideas, rules that you feel need to be changed or omitted from society as we know it.

5.  Reflect on personal what ways do we, as individuals, need to change in order to live more authentic lifestyles customary only to ourselves?

6. Consider the quote by Kerouac above and ask yourself what kind of personal changes and activism you can display in becoming part of a generation that can change the world.

Take your brainstorming material and set out to write a great Beat poem in the style of Ginsberg & Ferlinghetti.

And if you're feeling really brave, post it below or share your blog link with us!

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Complex, Arcane and Difficult" by K.J. Hannah Greenberg

Kowtowing to his partner’s newest whims,
The oldster made public many ignominies,
Which referenced his failed cooperation.
Certain malleabilities, coracles, rain, ankles,
Honor no heritage; bring disrepute, instead.
In the distance, an opossum snuffled air,
Speculated, explored ideas, got lauded,
Conveyed matters of Truthspeak toward
Necessary arrangements finessed again.
Swampy coniferous forests grow high.
The man’s habit of duty entangled, surged back,
Made him strive toward foolishly routed cuirasses.
His afflictions, like fingertip vibrations, torso heavings,
Also crying, ceremonial sashes excluded, began over,
Much later (shoals can remain underwater during storms).
For large marsupials paths, whose purposes hone from
Alabaster structures, interstitular purring, random woes,
Beckon bocaccion toward childhood fa├žades, compare
Favorably to self-recrimination chosen carefully, if selected
When loathing’s leftover from gobbling up ornamental plants.
Considering pressures brought against great instruments,
Such evil service culminated in corporals’ snarling, boys’
Whining, series of murders by arrow, fate’s contrails, poo.
Highlighting ancient omphaloses built from domestic mud.
That spouses make due with chanting, drumming, throaty calls.
Retaining the shadowy influence of new world cats, costs
Stranded lifetimes of candy-colored liedens, maybe rainbows,
Patterns found on dry leafs, plus futures read in feathers.It
Culls didelphimorphs emotional torture, vacillating ghosts.
Bumpy scaly things that remain dangerous in the woodlands.
His learnings that enriched rulers’ foreign language victories,
Caused much ignorance, catalyzed fear, worked, many times,
Alongside cheating, losing of familial heirlooms, resounding
As if actual precious ideas, otherwise allowed freedom
In relationships, spared brutality, obviated all manslaughter.
The never-ending vacuuming of small pieces,
Lush shanties’ waste, destroys biota, leaves
Wreckage, bankrupts repeatedly, prehensile tails
Notwithstanding. Small critters relinquish gulps,
Accordingly, when stepping through ash alleys.


KJ Hannah Greenberg is the author of more than a dozen books. Her writing has received National Endowment for the Humanities funding and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Million Writers Award, and The Best of the Net. Hannah's newest books are: The Immediacy of Emotional Kerfuffles, 2nd ed. (Bards and Sages Publishing, 2015), and Dancing with Hedgehogs, (Fowlpox Press, 2014). Hannah lives and creates in Jerusalem.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Untitled" by Tanima Bag

THUD!   THUd!   Thud.
THUD!   THUd!   Thud.

Where am I? Eyes leper without the moonlight beaming
Gloom, confusion. What is it? Am I dreaming?

Darkness persists and stares back
Air on exile, dust sits in a stack

Flicker of a recollection, before could it dawn
Faster than a cherry blossom bloomed and gone

Devastation knocks on the door,foreboding, looming
Limbs turned treacherous, lungs start screaming

Blink. Screaming?

THUD!   THUd!   THud.
THUD!   THUd!   THud.

THUD THUd Thud, shut and hammered for a faux sin
With the nine inches, palms nailed to my coffin

Scream, and plead my little heart away
Cause rosaries and candles can’t save the strayed

“Waylaid” by mother nature, but punished by ten
“Men dress as men, and only mate  women”

Family calls it a phase and societies spit
But HE who maketh all, is the one who hath me lit

Loving neighbors and enemies, having compassion, forgiveness
Preaching the lord’s words,but never one for acceptance

Adultery tolerated, though so many’ve died
But love that harms no one, forbidden, denied

How can we be earth’s child and heaven’s heir ,
Looking for reasons to be different from others so much alike us when bare ?

Tik Tok.  Tik Tok.  Tik ToK.  Tik.

Help! Save me! Or just try to understand me!
Light that volcano up. Emptiness, size of Mount Fuji

Tik Tok.   Tik Tok.    Tik Tok.  Tik.

Blink. I’m alone. Darkness blankets me still.
Did i have a cup of poison gravy to the fill?

Chest, brain,eyes,throat, lips hurt , I recall what’s not a rotten dream
Wishing it wasn’t my life’s decaying fraying seam

Two options, stand aground and take the brick to the head
Or let my screams sing me lullaby as the rope swings me to death

Is giving up really cowardice or bravery? Who can ever actually tell?
Wasn’t riding the horse pleasant, only until u fell?

Two answers, body discovered after it rots, let rats feast on u along
with dumped garbage
Or tear the rot out and swim past the storm’s rampage

But saving the saved, is never as savoury
And freeing the feared, doesn’t make it bravery

And so I rise, as I let my knees sink to the ground
The earth carries me afloat, and only now I am found

Born again, I am what I am, who I am, the way I am
Unchangeable and yet being to bring the change I can

I wipe the tears,and fears of thorny  barriers
Take a plunge into the tornado and emerge, greeted by warriors

Together we pick our wounds, and stitch ‘em up for forever
We’re stomped on and yet heard. A truth denied no longer….


Tanima Bag is a 22 year old writer from India.  She thinks music, books, and food are the greatest inventions of mankind