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.
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