Posts Tagged ‘The Time is Now’

This week’s round up is hosted by Rebecca at Sloth Reads.

Each week I receive an email with writing prompts from Poets & Writers The Time is Now. A few weeks ago this was the prompt for poetry.

Several years ago, New York Public Library staff discovered a box filled with file cards of written questions submitted to librarians from the 1940s to 1980s, many of which have been collected in the book Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers: A Little Book of Whimsy and Wisdom From the Files of the New York Public Library (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2019). Questions include: “What does it mean when you’re being chased by an elephant?” and “Can you give me the name of a book that dramatizes bedbugs?” and “What time does a bluebird sing?” Write a poem inspired by one of these curiously strange questions. Does your poem provide a practical answer, or avoid one altogether leading instead to more imaginative questions?

The Time is Now, Oct. 29, 2019

I used the question “What time does a bluebird sing?” to inspire a poem.

Photo by Henry Cancienne

What Time Does a Bluebird Sing?

Morning is filled with birdsong.
If it’s not yet sunrise, I hear the owl whoot.
If the sun’s up and there’s an electric pole nearby, 
it’s the woodpecker—drumming, not singing,
but musical all the same. 

Echoing through the breeze
sings Papa cardinal
and soon the mockingbird joins in
with a trill up the scales.

Where is the bluebird? 
Hiding in a grove of trees near the swamp,
shyly tweeting,
a flash of blue
the color of sky,
song of morning.

Margaret Simon, draft 2019

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Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference is hosting today.

Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference is hosting today.

I subscribe to Poets and Writers The Time is Now writing prompts. This week the poetry prompt intrigued me.

“Choose any word from the dictionary and read its definitions. Write a poem using only the language of these definitions. Try repeating them in different combinations and using line break to create unexpected phrases. Experiment with how far you can push the limits of the language you’re working with. Use the word you’ve chosen as the title of the poem.”


I tried the exercise myself with varied results. I tried it with my elementary gifted students. At first I was worried. It took a while for them to even choose a word. My favorite came from a third grader. I’m not sure how much of the original definition became a part of her poem, but I loved her play with language.


People say you’re the fairest of them all.
Of course they say that in fairy tales,
you know,
when a fairy comes to help the fair lady.
She’s not that fair.
She is wicked. She is cruel.
The real fairest of them all
comes to help, to defeat
that so-called fair queen.
That’s why they say
you’re only fair
in fairy tales.


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