Poetry Prompts

One of my favorite parts of our workshop this semester has been the weekly writing exercises.  I know that sometimes people had trouble making the time for writing each week, and back at the beginning of the semester when I saw there was a prompt every week I remember feeling really downtrodden by the idea.  Before this semester I always met writing prompts with chagrin–I could never seem to produce anything substantial out of a direct prompt.  In class exercises were especially difficult for me and I dreaded on life and limb that inevitable moment when I’d have to share my dumb brain musings.

I don’t know if it’s the style of exercises that Lytton’s chosen to go with–designing the prompts as different approaches to the line, or whether I’ve just accepted my writing prompt fate, but I’ve honestly felt that the weekly exercises have helped me create better, more pointed poems.  I know this is a pretty general blog post, but it’s something we don’t talk about much and we’ve all had to struggle through together.  We’ve mentioned the exercises in class a little, but with workshop it usually gets forgotten.  I’ve had mostly really great experiences with the exercises, and I hop everyone else has had some success too!

Children’s Books: Poetry? Prose? Narrative? Oh My!

Over the past year, as my interest in Children’s literature has been growing, I’ve been reading a lot of children’s books.  Like a lot a lot. The more picture books I read, I start to notice the ones that catch my interest the most, and the ones I end up re-reading several times in a row, are the ones that feel the most poetic.  By that I mean that even though the language may appear to be “simple” the language is actually rich in complex diction, syntax, and imagery–not to mention attention to rhythm, sounds, and pacing.  Sound familiar?  Like a poem maybe?    Let’s take a look at my latest obsession: Once Upon an Alphabet, by Oliver Jeffers.

*Spoiler Alert: A isn't for Apple*
*Spoiler Alert: A isn’t for Apple*

Continue reading “Children’s Books: Poetry? Prose? Narrative? Oh My!”

Back to Basics: Poetry as a Genre

I was having a conversation with a friend about genre and the expectations that are inherently within labeling and categorizing different modes of writing.  Although as an English major, you’d think I’d notice genre a lot more, but I really don’t until I walk into a bookstore (mostly to avoid the “Teen Paranormal Romance” section).  This could be due to the face that within the Creative Writing track at Geneseo when we take workshops they’re strictly in the genre of “literary” fiction or CNF.  I was having this discussion because my friend had just recently read the book We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart–a book of the Young Adult genre.  Continue reading “Back to Basics: Poetry as a Genre”

Music & Poetry

Something that caught my attention about the Gallaher reading “A Line Is a Hesitation, Not a World” in A Broken Thing is a line in which he says, “I dislike hearing someone mention the ‘music’ of the line just about as much as I dislike hearing someone speak of the ‘poetry’ of things that aren’t poems” (97.)  I understand this sentiment in context to the idea that the “music” of poetry can lead to someone reading a poem in a way that feels too “poet-y,” but I feel like this view is a little short sighted.  From an anthropological/historical perspective poetry is interesting because the written form was born out of an oral tradition (at least in North America; I’m not confident enough to say this is universal, although I feel like it would be.)  If we look at poetry this way the music in the words is unavoidable.  Although I don’t know much about music, and I tend to always view poetry as literature, I do find that the way the poem sounds out loud is important to me.  I always read poems I write out loud to try and hear the sounds and rhythm better.  Has anyone gone to a reading a felt a certain way about a poem after they heard the poet read their work aloud?  I know this happened to me when I watched videos of Ilya Kaminsky reading his work after we read his collection Dancing in Odessa in Poetry last fall.  Has anyone else thought about this?  When you write poems do you pay attention to the sounds out loud, or have we forgotten the oral tradition of poetry?

Attending Poetry Readings

I hope everyone’s having a good Wednesday!  This post is going to be a sort of continuation of Katie’s last post, and my comment from that post.

Being honest, I thought I was not the type of person who enjoyed attending readings–I didn’t know what to expect and I thought they would be awkward and stuffy.  I’m the type of person who likes to stay in my bed and eat an entire box of Oreos.  But since joining the creative writing scene here at Geneseo I’ve realized how important it is to push ourselves and do things we might not normally think we’d enjoy. Continue reading “Attending Poetry Readings”

Physical & Poetic Spaces

Since the first Poetic Whirlwind several class poems have stayed with me, but I’ve been especially thinking about and envying Romy’s poem “Uncles.” I’ve never written a poem that short, and certainly not one capable of packing as much of punch in such a tight space. And that got me thinking about space in general—poetic space, but also the spaces that we inhabit everyday.

While I was going for a bike ride this morning I was reminded how Geneseo always feels bigger and more complex when I’m on my bicycle, as opposed to driving in a car. When I’m biking I notice more about it—let myself see the character of the little farms and long hilly roads. I was struck with the realization that the space I inhabit here as a student tends to be repetitive: walk/bike to campus where I sit in the same rooms, then walk/bike back home. I often forget to leave the space of my routine to explore new places, and I think that’s important to remember as poets too.

The world we inhabit is a sensory one, and consists of physical space. I’m a very image grounded poet—I understand poetry better through image, and I tend to write poems from one image or a series of images. But I was reminded to look at poetry structurally, as a type of architecture, remembering that poetry has a physicality to it, and it’s the poet’s job to make sense of the space that the poem wants or needs to exist in.