Friday, January 8, 2016

49-Second Poetry Prompt Guaranteed to Change Your Writing

Howdy, Campers--Happy New Year and Happy Poetry Friday! Today's host and my (very odd) poem are below.

To start the new year--and we hope yours is copacetic thus far--we, at the brand-ndew corporate headquarters of TeachingAuthors, will each be offering a book, a tip, a tool--something which helps us read / write /create. 
The new corporate offices of
Ready? Hang on for the wild ride (or better: a wild write): Esther started us off in her post telling us about Shaun Levin's Writing Map, MY WRITING LIFE. Fascinating concept, sure to set your teeth on fire.

Today, it's my turn. As regular readers know, I've been an instructor in UCLA Extenstion Writers' Program since the invention of goat cheese. Recently, UCLA Extension Writers' Program invited its instructors to offer a writing tip in under one minute. The videos that have been filmed so far can be viewed here; more will be added as they're filmed, including mine--coming soon.

What's so cool about these is that when you're feeling parched, dried-out, and California-drought-ish, wondering what in heaven's name to write, or why the heck you think you can write, simply watch one of these babies and try the tip.

I especially like this 49-second tip by poet Rick Bursky. Could you do me a favor and watch it right now? Because what comes next assumes you've listened to him.

Okay--you've watched Rick? Thank you kindly.

So today's poem is the third draft of a poem inspired by his tip. It may not be for kids, it may not be much, but I was grabbing things from all over the internet and deep in the darkest corners of my brain, and man was it fun to write!

by April Halprin Wayland

Once upon a time, there was
a train came down the track faster than it was supposed to
its feet shoulder-width apart, 90 degrees to the target
but Froggy didn't feel like getting
a lawyer for Teresa Giudice, who was freed at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Ah, changes!
Ah, the ghastly smell of salmon which spoils so quickly in the refrigerator!
Ah, Old Dresser Redo, DIY Cloud Pillows, Easy Floating Shelves.
How we each, in our own little worlds,
carrot and stick,
the atmosphere of Mars,
water overflowing sidewalks of Hermosa Beach,
how we each change the world.

It's raining again
and there are mouse parts all over the house.
What has been your lollipop moment?
Have you thanked that person?
And they lived happily
A New, Easier Method To Use A Printer For Ink Image Transfers!
ever after

poem (c) 2016 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

TeachingAuthors hope our tips and tools will jump-start your writing year, Dear Reader. 

May this be your Year of Yes!

Watch for a related post on our Wednesday Writers' Workout on January 13th ~

Thank you, Tabatha, for hosting PF today at The Opposite of Indifference ~

posted by April Halprin Wayland with help from Eli, who was tearing up Mouse as I wrote the poem.
Eli swears he didn't do it


Doraine said...

You are a hoot! I laughed out loud at the goat cheese. Impressive headquarters! And a ridiculously fun poem. I'm going to try it.

Linda B said...

I will remember this, April when I spew out those poetry lines, then just as suddenly it stops. Time for changes, especially on Wednesday? Thanks for the video tip(s), awesome. I hope you'll share yours when it comes out!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Doraine and Linda ~ I'm thinking this technique may also work in thank you notes, resumes, and blog post comments. :-)

CS Perryess said...

Based on your sample poem, this tip works great for poetry. In my experience, it doesn't work nearly as well in narrative, though it is a favorite strategy especially among 5th grade boys. "And then, um, the toilet blew up and my shoes grew wings and flew away, and then I got bored, and then Timbo farted and we all laughed. Then I died." As Oscar Wilde said, "Youth. It's waste don the young."

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

What a great way to jump start creativity. Thanks for showing us how fun it can be. :) I've got the writing tips page bookmarked— thanks, April!

Anne Canright said...

WHAT a fun poem, April! Rollicking imagery and movement! Also happy to find all the writers' prompts.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

April! I sometimes find PF a little...heavy, seeing what everyone's up to that I can't quite squeeze into my own life. But 49-second writing tips I can USE! And I can't imagine why ('cause I know this already) but hearing Rick remind me that poetry is the art of language (not the art of story, fiction's job) was really thrilling.

Your second stanza is my favorite, with its centering idea of change wrought by all those loosely flowing powers. Looking forward to your own tip video, and Happy New Year!

Catherine Flynn said...

Love your poem and Rick's great advice! Thanks so much for sharing!

Mary Lee said...

Thanks for all kinds of fun today, but especially the writing tips site. Will share with my colleagues and am thinking our students could create some of these...the wheels are spinning!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

I love this prompt, April, as well as so many others from the UCLA videos.
I hope you'll share YOURS with our readers, maybe as a WWW?
I also love Eli. :)
Your Fan Esther

Buffy Silverman said...

Oh that guilty face... I laughed at the juxtaposition of mouse parts and lollipop moment (before realizing that the parts were stuffing and that no actual mouselings were harmed in the creation of the poem.) Love the tip.

April Halprin Wayland said...

CS Perryess...your example made me laugh out loud--thank you!

Heidi ~ I've got 'em bookmarked, too...I want to remember what they suggest!

Catherine ~ thanks for stopping by ~

Mary Lee ~ If your students create their own, PULEEZE share them! I wanna see what they come up with!

Thanks, Esther. I just recorded my two tips today. I was focused on not looking wrinkled (my shirt and my neck, both). I'll share them when they're posted...And Eli says hi. He says he wants to see you when you're in in LA!

Thanks, Buffy. Yes, our dogs and those faces...

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thank you, April! I enjoyed the tips, especially the one about discipline ( because I need the reminder. I hope you'll post links to yours!

Carmela Martino said...

April, I'm with Buffy--relieved that the mouse parts were not from an actual mouseling. :-)
I LOVE Rick's tip and look forward to seeing yours.