Posts Tagged ‘Poets & Writers’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Ruth in Haiti.

Happy New Year! If you are looking for a way to feed your writing life, subscribe to Poets & Writers’ The Time is Now. I do not do their prompt every week, but this week when I was feeling out of touch with writing, I opened it to find a prompt that worked well for me.

“Mars Being Red” by the late poet Marvin Bell lyrically explores the color red as a state of being, likening it to a list of images that both physically resemble the color and provide memories, such as that of youth. In this compact, twelve-line poem, Bell begins what seems to be a portrait of the planet Mars and then delves into a series of digressions that find resolve in a meditation on the possibility of change: “You will not be this quick-to-redden / forever. You will be green again, again and again.” Inspired by Bell, write a poem that serves as a portrait of a color. Use physical descriptions to begin and then personal memories to develop a transformation in this study of hue.
From The Time is Now

Bayou Being Green

Being green is the color of an amaryllis
bud before blooming. Color of time lost
in growth, of soul lost inside
meditation. Green of grassy meadows
we walked with the dog, while our steps
made time disappear for a moment.
Contemplation becomes green in your eyes,
emerald of stars, early light reflects
sage from the bayou surface where green
water darkens as we stroll west toward
sunset, away from dawn into an age
of white on white on white. 

Margaret Simon, draft after Marvin Bell “Mars Being Red”
Bayou Teche in November, Margaret Simon

If you are looking for a weekly photo writing prompt, subscribe to my blog, I am posting a photo each week on Thursdays and invite you to write a small poem response. This Photo Wants to be a Poem.

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This week I feature another amazing photo by Molly Hogan. I know we’ve written about webs before, but this one caught my eye for its uniqueness. Find a detail to focus and meditate on, the punctum (See the quote below). Write a poem about this detail. Could our individual poems be put together to create the complete photograph?

In Roland Barthes’s 1981 book Camera Lucida, he introduces the concept of a photograph’s punctum, which can be defined as the sensory, intensely subjective effect of a photograph on the viewer, or as he puts it: “that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).” Barthes contrasts the punctum with the studium, which is the more general approach to a photograph informed by historical and cultural experiences. Choose a personal photograph and meditate on the specific conditions, feelings, and circumstances behind it. What do you feel and know from looking at it? Then, identify the precise detail in the photograph you are drawn to—what is it exactly? Using your senses, write a poem that centers and delves into the punctum, the precise detail. What does a detail reveal about the whole?

From The Time is Now Weekly Writing Prompt from Poets&Writers
Twin Webs by Molly Hogan

Molly posted the photo on Twitter, and Linda Mitchell responded with a small poem that can start us off.

I chose to focus on the fulcrum that binds the web to the marsh grass.

Silk arrow,
a fulcrum balance
for delicate lace.

Margaret Simon, draft

Due to the aftermath (no power or internet) of Hurricane Laura, I am posting this for Poetry Friday. We fared well through the storm and have recovered for the most part. Please keep our friends in Lake Charles, LA in your prayers.

Poetry Friday round-up is with Heidi at my juicy little universe.

Please leave a small poem in the comments and respond to other poets.

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Inspiration for today’s haiku came from my weekly email from Poets & Writers:

Poetry Prompt
“In the red room there is a sky which is painted over in red / but is not red and was, once, the sky. / This is how I live. / A red table in a red room filled with air.” Using these lines from Rachel Zucker’s “Letter [Persephone to Demeter]” as inspiration, write a poem where everything in the environment is red, as though the speaker is looking through red glass.


We search the dry land
for Persephone’s
majestic red shoes

–Margaret Simon

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Poetry Friday is with Carol at Carol's Corner.

Poetry Friday is with Carol at Carol’s Corner.



In my Inbox, I found this prompt from Poets and Writers:

In his 1821 essay “A Defence of Poetry,” Percy Bysshe Shelley writes, “Poetry is…the perfect and consummate surface and bloom of all things; it is as the odor and the color of the rose to the texture of the elements which compose it….” Make a list of words and phrases that describe the surface textures, odors, and colors that surround you as this year draws to an end, choosing the details that are most evocative of the season. You may find yourself drawing inspiration from the contrasting primary colors of holiday cheer, bright puffy parkas or dark wool coats, the shiny prints and textures of patterned gift wrap, the stark tones of snow, or the scents of fragrant conifers and baked desserts. Write a trio of poems, each focusing on one type of sensory input. Select an element–setting, narrator’s voice, repeated words, or a specific object–that stays constant through all three, tying them together.

I was relaxing at my daughter’s house in New Orleans after a long, amazing, yet tiring weekend at NCTE.  The mowers came to mow the median.  And this poem emerged.



Even in November
mowers hum,
chopping remains of green,
throwing dust to the wind.

My soul prepares
for the cold,
curled up in a blanket,
wearing wool socks.  

This cooling of air
this crisping of leaves, grass, my toes
gives space for new growth
prepares for seeds to flower.


When I hear
mower sounds,
wind playing its violin,

I turn my ear–


I see black faces
of the mowers earnestly
getting the job done.
Do they take pride
in their mowing?

Do they take their families
for a ride later,
drive by the median
on Carrollton Avenue,
point to the grass,
and say, “I did that!” ?

Do any of us
see the lawn of our lives
as beauty
we have created?

–Margaret Simon

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I get a weekly writing prompt from Poets and Writers called The Time is Now.  This week’s nonfiction prompt was as follows:  “In Bird by Bird (Pantheon, 1994), Anne Lamott’s classic instructional treatise on writing and life, the author writes: “Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can’t–and, in fact, you’re not supposed to–know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.” Keeping this in mind, write the beginnings of an essay whose direction and ending you don’t yet know. Start small, focusing closely on a single place, person, or incident, without thinking ahead. Then keep going: Allow the writing tell the story, and see what develops.”

This morning was a beautiful summer morning.  After walking my dog, I sat on the back deck eating my breakfast and drinking coffee.  A cardinal hopped into a nearby tree and starting singing loudly.  I wrote as I listened.

The red bird calls
from the crape myrtle branch
while the cat prowls,
Tee who, tee who, tee
who, who, who, who

He flutters higher into the cypress tree.
The cat jumps in, crouches
in the valley of trunk and branch.
The cardinal call is echoed across the water–
a conversation for soul mates
staccato notes in harmony
with the rising song of cicadas

As the breeze blows, the wind chime
joins the tune. I am the audience only
writing alone while
June rises with the sun
dancing with patterns on the bayou.
Cerulean sky domes the shapes of trees,
a horizon to this landscape.

Thich Nhat Hanh tells me to be mindful of the moment,
to tune in to my breath, in and out.
This moment of mindfulness
full of sounds, the cardinal and his mate,
makes me wonder
of the Almighty Hand
who created my world and guides my breath.
How am I so privileged to be here?
I hear this song so clearly;
I feel the breeze so softly,
an embrace from God,
my everlasting mother.


Audio of Morning Song

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