August 15, 2015

Prompt: Directions Home

Years ago, I was interested to see a feature in The Saturday Review each issue that was called "Writer's Desk." The idea was simple. It showed a writer's actual desk and explained a bit about how they worked there. I always thought that I might gain some insight into writing or writers by knowing about the how and where of their writing. It is a questionable theory, but when I visit a writer's home I am still interested in seeing their writing space.

Thinking about Charles Bukowski's battered desk looking over the Los Angeles harbor or Raymond Carver staring out his Port Angeles, Washington window across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and thinking about going fishing, did give me a bit of a sense about their writing.

So, I looked at Emily Dickinson's home and Wallace Steven's house looking for clues. I walked through Walt Whitman's home in Camden, New Jersey looking for signs of his ecstatic poems, wandering spirit and curiosity.

I was interested to see that a poem by Juan Felipe Herrera, who was recently named Poet Laureate of the United States, was used during National Poetry Month as a writing prompt about home.


Juan Felipe Herrera reads “Five Directions to My House” as part of National Poetry Month 2014.
https://youtu.be/8UPjEcaCG5E


Five Directions to My House

1. Go back to the grain yellow hills where the broken speak of elegance
2. Walk up to the canvas door, the short bed stretched against the clouds
3. Beneath the earth, an ant writes with the grace of a governor
4. Blow, blow Red Tail Hawk, your hidden sleeve—your desert secrets
5. You are there, almost, without a name, without a body, go now
6. I said five, said five like a guitar says six.

Actually, I was more interested in the responses to his poem by students. Here are two of the poems written in response to Herrea's poem.

Six Ways to the Sky by Leyla, age 9

Turn around go to the end of the long bridge
Into the wave of clouds under the colorless arch
Under the heat of the center core.
Over the peregrine falcon flying fast as the race car
Out of the endless underwater cave
Around the wheel of fortune, around, around, around the wheel.
I said six, said six like a rainbow says seven.

Five Minutes to My House by Ilyssa, age 18


One,
the mountain cradles the rising sun as it leaves
a warm pink collection of colors in the air.
Bright, brutal sunlight turns the sky on
like an electrical switch and the sky becomes
alive.

Two,
the staccato of a wood pecker tapping on my roof
in the morning stirs me awake.

Three,
an endless stretch of rocks and dirt, harsh
to the eyes, a barren desolate land.

Four,
a dead bunny carcass lies on the newly
paved road, it ran towards the wheels of a
car. Now, it’s left behind a sore sight
for all except hungry lone scavengers.

Five,
time, time slips through the fingers like
yellow grains of sand left behind on a beach.
Even time moves slowly in this eternal home.

Your writing prompt is to write a poem that gives directions (in any format) to your house or any particular house - including the home of a poet - take a look at my earlier post about writer's homes.

Submissions to this prompt are due by September 6, 2015.


No comments:

Post a Comment