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?
A man ordered crickets online, and was surprised to find that as soon as he opened the box, crickets went everywhere.
If a box arrives at your door; and you open it, and something floods out, in too great a quantity for you or your living space, what is it? Do you try to save yourself? Hold back the tide? Or salvage the contents of the box?
The Cantab staff lazily took the week off to either celebrate with their families, or else sneer at their neighbor's holiday decorations. What would you do with a week off from work? Not what would you actually do, but what do you wish you could do if you had a week off?
I don't know about you, but I've had some complicatedly incompatible roommates in my life, and many more roommate interviews with people who seemed to not have bothered to read the ad I placed. People deathly allergic to cats, responding to an ad that mentioned two long-haired cats. People with two massive canoes moving into a place with no yard, basement, or storage area. And, of course, the people who show up and get performatively political in either direction before you've figured out what their name is.
I deserve better. You deserve better. Write yourself an ad, not for the roommate you want, but the one you deserve. Even if you're past the point in your life where roommates are a consideration.
American English is filled with idioms and expressions that don't make any sense, but that we say anyway. Take an expression that you, or people in your life, which doesn't have an obvious origin, and create your own mythology for it. Don't use the real story, create a whole new back story for shark jumping or sock knocking off.
Write a praise poem for something that you haven't benefited from, or for a person who, until this prompt, you never thought of as inspirational.
Write a two stanza, or forty-five second long poem. Now interrupt it at several points with inappropriate commercials. This prompt brought to you by Thanksgiving with family, where I watched TV live, for the first time in what seems like years.
What's the pettiest thing you've ever been inappropriately angry about? How do you wish you'd responded instead? Or did you get it just right?
From a suite of prompts inspired by Jeanann Verlee's book, Prey: Choose a play you've enjoyed (or hated, if that's how you roll). Write a poem with at least three distinct sections. The first should focus on the plot, the second section should focus on a particular character, and the third should spotlight a setting where a particular scene (or the entire play) takes place.
Select a specific aspect of your personality for an event, outing, or night in. Now dress that part of yourself: in costume, drag, or daily wear.
In honor of poet, Tony Hoagland, who died this week, I created a suite of prompts based on his first collection: Sweet Ruin. I had a complicated relationship with his poetry, as his first two collections: Sweet Ruin, and Donkey Gospel were very influential on the way I wrote in my twenties, but his later work became more and more problematic.
And while many writers found that our older work wasn't accomplishing the things we hoped as it aged, he chose to write about his struggles with bigotry in a way that many of his readers, and some of his close peers and friends, felt was punching down. His internal struggles with prejudice (which everyone has) came out in a way that felt bigoted instead of enlightening.
I don't want to celebrate that part of his writing.
One of my prompts from Suite Of Ruin was inspired partly by the second poem in his collection, "For Men Only", and partly by listening to "progressive" male poets trying their best to write inspiring poems about women:
Prompt: Poem For Men Only. Masculinity is tough, huh? Between Mens' Rights Activists, and the men who struggle against that stereotype, your average open mic listener has spent entirely too much time listening to men talk about masculinity. So take a break for this prompt. Write about a female or non-binary inventor. If you are female or non-binary, write it however you wish. If you're male identified, then completely remove yourself from the poem. Don't talk about how the female or non-binary inventor inspired you or changed your life or what her love life was like, write a list poem about them, or find an angle that never mentions the inventor's beauty or courage. Tell us about the invention. Try to avoid mentioning men at all.
I am often trapped behind a counter while I am working retail. This means, while trying to do data entry, run a sale through, or answer a customer's question, someone who is not even a potential customer will come in and talk at me. Because society has deemed it rude to say "Fuck off, I'm busy, and don't have time to listen to you prattle on about nothing." to a stranger, I often hear more than anyone's fair share of useless doggerel.
In the past week, much of it has been armchair sports fans, who, despite not having played baseball since their tee-ball league team came in last place, are convinced they Know how the local sports franchise can win the World Series, if only their coaching staff would listen to them.
What activity in the world are you completely unqualified to give advice for, but are so passionate about that you feel the need to share your limited knowledge with the entire world?
Prep for your annual Halloween project by writing a story or poem in which a ghost appears, and saves your life.
How would you devise a complex trap to capture a modern pest: a telemarketer, CEO of a college loan company, an online sexual predator.
Tell a story involving finding a book. It could be a book left on a sidewalk, on a friend's bookshelf, something that arrives in the mail that you don't remember ordering. How did the book affect you? Were you fated to find the book?
"A tormented mother living in Bramford Road with her two young children has been woken on an almost nightly basis by a tinny, distant rendition of 'It's Raining, It's Pouring'. She said the threatening undertone of the song had left her frightened and questioning whether she was imagining things. After months of torment, she finally reported the unusual complaint to Ipswich Borough Council." --Associated Press
It turns out that the creepy nursery rhyme was not the precursor to an attack by Freddy Kreuger. Rather, it's part of an alarm system for a local industrial park. Unfortunately, its trigger system was far too sensitive, as it was being regularly set off by spiders, just normal sized spiders, doing their regular spiderly duties.
If you had a non-violent security system for people breaching your personal boundaries what would it be? And what thing might accidentally set it off?
Earlier this year, during the midst of a construction project to update a subway system in Australia, excavators found the remains of a Victorian-era dental practice, including over 1,000 teeth. This gave researchers insight into Victorian-era dentistry, as well as providing nightmare fuel for anyone who didn't want to know about Victorian-era dentistry.
When future scientists unearth the remains beneath your home and work, what horrors will they learn about you?
This week, the staff of the Cantab was greeted with a fresh coat of pink paint, and some....unexpected curtains and Christmas lights. Also, the floor is now sticky from fresh matte paint as opposed to...other reasons.
They did not remove all of the stickers, sand over the years worth of masking and duct tape from show posters. They just painted over them. The room is precisely the same as it has always been but with a fresh...ish coat of paint.
Isn't this precisely what self-improvement is for some people? No work to repair what's underneath just a fresh varnish of bright Look At Me cosmetic alteration.
Have you ever been guilty of this unintentionally disengenious improvement? What did it accomplish for you? I mean, you probably haven't, what with being in such perfect condition, so, assuming you've never done this, surely you've experienced someone around you doing this. How did you react to this surface sheen of unrepair? Did you discuss this with other people? Were they on your side?
When I asked who at The Cantab had ever had a terrible boss, every hand shot up. I can't fathom what that says about the state of capitalism in the 20th and 21st century.
My own experiences with bosses is varied from Slightly Flawed Human Being Trying Their Best To Survive Financially to Rich Incompetent Jackass With No Understanding Of Accountability Or Others' Humanity Making A Profit Off The Rest Of Us Desperately Poor.
I offer a choice of prompts this week. As always you can slightly alter the prompt to fit your desired outcome.
Without talking about your current job (please, don't even tempt fate by talking about your current job), explain to a former boss how they could have improved their business , your happiness, and the world at large by heeding your adive. -Or- Apologize to your past self for not protecting them from the aforementioned horrible work/life situation.
Have you even been reading a really beautiful poem or section of prose and been totally enamored with how well the author is expressing their passion for their country/a bird/the ocean/a slice of pizza/probably the moon, only to have the poem turn and really be about how much they totally want to bone some beautiful human being? Maybe, like me, you audibly groan and put the book down, feeling cheated for the potential that an author is capable of loving something that is unlikely to give them a satisfying sexual experience.
If you haven't had this experience, you aren't reading enough, or this sort of thing doesn't bother you.
Try and find a piece of writing that stumbles over objectification (or somehow makes the act of objectification seem lovely) and let it inspire you to write about something you are passionate about. Express this without mentioning a person in any way.
Write Or Die
Scott Woods's Twitter Prompts
Rachel Mckibbens' Prompt Blog
The 30/30 Prompt Blog
Asterisk And Sidebar Prompts