I was reading a new graphic novel this week called The New World about Native Americans and escaped African slaves teaming up to fight White oppressors during the relatively early days of Europe's invasion of the North American continent. The book employed a lot of magic, and had some twists that I think I wish it hadn't, but it got me thinking.
Why have I never read a sci-fi or fantasy book about Native Americans invading Europe first? Apparently, there's a mod for it in Crusader Kings 2, but I'm looking for something more inventive, like a powerful Native tribe being excommunicated from North America and ending up in England during the aftermath of The Black Plague, and pushing through Eurasia from The East.
Give us an alternate history scenario to take us away from the current depressing state of affairs. Nothing so small as What If The South Won The American Civil War, something much grander, like what if an island nation developed a technologically superior fleet of submarines and ended up injecting themselves into WWII to the point where they, instead of The United States were glorified as turning the tide of the war. What would that have done to 20th and 21st century world history.
I'll grant you that this is a way better book prompt than a poetry prompt, but feel free to use this for any creative endeavor.
While at work the other day, I overheard a customer trying to convince another customer that he needed to see a therapist because he was depressed, but the longer the conversation went on, the more convinced I was that the person recommending therapy was the person more in need of it.
Try and convince the subject of your poem that they need to see someone in the medical profession. You can either be overreacting to a stubbed toe, diligently trying to save your recently beheaded friend, or you can be like the person in the original scenario and request someone close to you go to therapy, in a way which makes it very clear that you are the one more in need of help.
Billy Barnum was one of the first features ever at The Cantab Lounge in 1991. He was also the opening act for the NPS finals when Boston hosted in 1992.
While there are several reasons to fondly remember his performances, which were interweaved with ballet and mime, he also inspired some really cool writing ideas in me.
Billy had a bound collection of his work that was sold at a local bookstore/coffeehouse in Boston. He would go there every week with his caretaker and some friends, and he would take his own book off the shelves, and rewrite at least one poem in the margins. Vast edits. He would end up with a completely different poem. And if you were fortunate to buy one of those books, you had two separate amazing drafts of that poem (or those poems, usually), for the price of one. Each book became a collector's item.
Print out or handwrite a copy of one of your poems that you, at one time, thought was finished, and rewrite the poem in its margins. And if you're feeling particularly Billy Barnum ephemeral, you can then give that new hybrid away to someone (or sell it, if you're also feeling particularly capitalist) so that they have a one-of-a-kind piece of your art.
Overthrowing a government, a corrupt boss, the patriarchy, or the record industry is hard work. You deserve a break from that emotional upheaval, but, let's be honest, you're going to have a hard time thinking about anything else, because a revolution seems completely necessary.
Try and imagine a revolution that will almost definitely fail: overthrowing fascists via arts and crafts, toppling the patriarchy with counter-clockwise lawn mowing. Paint us a vivid portrait of a very sad revolution.
We've all had a job at some point that wasn't going very well, looked around us and thought "I can do better than this."
But sometimes we're wrong.
I'm sure you, personally, have never had an experience like this, so feel free to make one up: Write about a time when your job went horribly awry, and it was 100% your fault.
It's a rough time to be an American with a sense of human decency. We all hope it will get better, but ooooof. There are a variety of ways you could be involved in a political revolution, but that's a taxing thing to think about right now, so clear your conscience, and instead, try and imagine a revolution that's doomed from the start: The Arts & Craft Revolution, The Counter-Clockwise Lawn Mowing Revolution, The Revolution Where You Just Sit At Home And Cry Into A Bag Of Oreos.
Tell us why those revolutions are never going to evoke real change.
Tell us about your best night of sleep. No, I'm not talking about your dirty sexual business. I mean what day did you wake up most refreshed from sleeping the night before. Why do you think that was?
Also, tell us about an absolute disaster of a time you had falling asleep. What was going on there?
Everyone has something that they love that most people are not culturally attuned to. Be it a band you like, a type of fruit or vegetable, or a slightly dangerous hobby. Convince someone to try this thing you enjoy. Don't mess with them, make it something you genuinely appreciate, and want someone to share in the experience.
What's the first thing you do when you move into a space that's going to be Yours for a while. Not a hotel room that other people clean, or an office you have to share with a billion other people. When you have your own room / apartment / house, what do you do to make that space Yours?
What does your favorite drink say about you? It doesn't have to be alcoholic. Water is a drink. Orange juice is a drink. The blood of the innocent is ... questionable. Examine how certain aspects of your personality are represented by said drink.
Tonight, at the bar, I overheard someone say "Well, I'm no Mary Oliver, but --" and then someone had the nerve to order a drink from me. By the time I tracked down the speaker, they couldn't remember what it was in reference to.
Your ghost line prompt is to start a poem with "I'm no Mary Oliver, but--" and show me all the possibilities of what that statement could possibly mean.
Build off the following Ghost Line: I live in the capital of Everything You Love Is Gone. May or not be inspired by the constantly changing neighborhood where I work. Or may be inspired by your love life. I'll never tell.
Cantab Doortender, Michael F Gill, offers this week's prompt:
Write a ten-line poem wherein each line is a single word containing three letters, making it appropriate to enter as the top 10 high scores on, for instance, a Pac-Man machine.
Inspired by Nicole Sealey's poem "Medical History":
Your family's medical history is one way to get a feel for who you are and where you come from. What other list-style poem ideas can you come up with to define your history? A list of your ancestors' and family's jobs? Hobbies? Mapping out where they lived?
In deference to the holiday, write a poem about either leaping to something (i.e. a conclusion) or a poem about a bad experience with mushrooms.
Since returning to the wilds of society, I frequently find myself bothered by the idea of ...
You know when you walk into a room, and then you remember you were supposed to get something from a different room, but then you think...
What’s in the back of your mind? Either discuss a time when a thing at the back of your mind impacted your life in a significant way, or else write about the last thing you remember from the back of your mind.
Wander your local supermarket (recommended: pick one where you don’t have to cross a picket line) and find a flavor you think is fucked up. Orange vanilla cola? Watermelon sandwich cookies? Cucumbers? Whatever: describe it. Now explain why you hate it, or why you begrudgingly love it.
As part of Claudia Wilson's workshop this week, participants were given a two pronged prompt:
Name your favorite word, or favorite word of the moment.
Use your favorite word of the moment to prompt a poem without using that word
Ask someone else for their favorite word, and write a poem that supports or refutes their choice.
Additional inspiration: a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien on the words “cellar door.”
Adam is alive and out of his coma, but not terribly coherent. His sense of chronology and what is and isn't real are wonky. This makes a perfect time to work on Dadaist, cut up poems.
Take an existing text, be it a poem, a newspaper article, a scene from a play or novel, cut it up by word or phrase. Put these cut up phrases in a bag, and shake it up. Now, without cheating, take the words and phrases out at random.
Congratulations, you have a Dadaist poem!
Adam was supposed to be home by now. Unfortunately, due to a poorly maintained hot tub, he was in a coma, still in Florida. While it was terrifying at the time, looking back on it, being killed by bacteria in a hot tub is a ridiculous way to die.
I had very publicly talked about how glad I was to finally find a vacation home with a hot tub before the trip. This felt like very weird karma.
What strange karma would you be embarrassed or amused to find out had killed you or caused you grievous harm?
It's Adam's last week in Florida, and it's been a weird trip.
Florida is famous for its odd news stories, which usually include a headline starting with "Florida Man".
Check out this archive of Florida Man stories, and find one which inspires a new poem for you.
As I was on my way to vacation this week, this prompt comes from Simone Beaubien, who recently attended a Shane Koyczan show, and came back with the following Shane line s a prompt:
When was the last time you knew everything was going to be okay?
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