Monday, January 11, 2016

Prompt: Drive poem

Today I wrote a poem that interests me, and it came from a prompt I give myself regularly when I find myself on the road. Today's road trip took me from Springfield to Kansas City, Missouri, and it was a bleak snowless winter landscape, everything just kind of brown and gray. It was also the kind of trip where every mile seems very much like the one before. Unless you pass something surprising—an accident, an unexpected clown college, a billboard for a one-eyed lawyer—every part of the journey seems interchangeable with the part before.

The challenge, should you take a similar trip through boring country, is to write down or record a list of observations—a hawk standing sentry on a fencepost, phallic silos, caved-roof houses. A feeling will start to emerge, and it may not be the one that seems obvious. For you, those farm fields may be stitched together with desire or longing; for me, having grown up in a rural area, the feeling might be sacred, or I may channel those old frustrations. The trick, once you write down your observations, is to try to shy away from the pathetic fallacy. You'll be drawn in that direction, if you're anything like me, but you're not the first person to notice that a barn door looks like a gaping mouth. I'm sure you can do better.

When you arrive at your destination (not before—safety first!), let your dominant impression of the landscape (or cityscape) inform how you string those images together. You may enjoy the results if you don't mention the feeling directly, but you write toward it in a way that it will be clear to your reader.

It's good to get out of the house and a little deeper into your head sometimes, and a drive is a great way to become inspired.

No comments:

Post a Comment