February 12, 2015

Prompt: Shoveling Snow with the Buddha and Billy Collins

If you are in a part of the world covered with snow, you may identify in that way with this month's model poem: "Shoveling Snow With Buddha" by Billy Collins. Our prompt for February is writing about someone who is well known but in your poem "out of place."

I like that in Collins' poem the Buddha is out of place for several reasons. First, he is doing something and we are used to seeing him seated and meditative. We also usually find him in a nice temperate setting, not in the snow. Of course, he is also out of place because he is out of time, dropped into our present from his past.

Besides the idea that he is helping shovel snow, he is also quite interested in hot chocolate and playing cards after the shoveling - two rewards for his work, not unlike a child's rewards for helping clear the snow.

He is more Buddha-like in his mindfulness of the work.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway


Collins is no real life Buddhist, though he is mindful, but the poem touches on several ideas in Buddhism. Like most of Collins' poems, the light, perhaps funny, surface of the poem is a way to slide into more serious points. In this poem, I am reminded about how often we forget that the journey is the destination, and how often we want to be anywhere but in the now.

This prompt asks you to place a well-known person (living or dead, real or fictional) somewhere out of place. There is the suggestion of something absurd in this, although Emily Dickinson at Starbucks is not as odd as if you made her a Victoria's Secret runway model, so the choice is yours when it comes to that aspect of the prompt.

Deadline for submissions: March 8, 2015





No comments:

Post a Comment