Prompts for Red Wolf Journal Chapter 15

Hi Lovers of Poetry,

We’ve just passed the last Sunday of the year mark. On to the last week of 2015. Thought I’d like to wrap it up with the four letter word. You know, l-o-v-e. I had just flipped through Shakespeare in Love, which is a compilation of the Bard’s love poetry. It was famously the movie that made Gwyneth Paltrow famous. In it, a young Shakespeare wrestled with writer’s block while working on a new play and the cure is a creature whom he falls in love with, an aspiring actress played by Paltrow. From there on it’s no holds barred and he went on to write Romeo and Juliet. No surprise that love and creativity are yoked, right? Having writer’s block? Cure is to fall in love.

Prompt 81:  We’re still in the twelve days of Christmas of course. Remember it all started with “a partridge in a pear tree”.

“On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me
a Partridge in a Pear Tree.”

Speculation has it that the partridge is an aphrodisiac and a pear tree being heart-shaped, this is is really a wedding song of sorts, with lots of gifting and also maids a-milking, lords a-leapin’, geese a-laying, and other shenanigans.

Following from that, please write a love poem that references at least one of the gifts.

Prompt 82: You’re still with me? I thought a little music making appropos for our poetics tonight. Truth is, a lot of you out there have vanished into the dark. Into real life, sorry. I’m right here in my garage doing my own thing. It feels like that. So the prompt is to write about the wintry dark. Or real life. Or music. Oh right. Music. I almost forgot.

Prompt 83: Smells are wonderful. If you smell something wonderful you tend to feel wonderful. Vice versa. The scented things help us along with whatever it is that is sensual about the world. And the world is terribly sensual. In other words, let your nose lead you. That’s the prompt, if you’re in need of prompting, as much as the poet in you is wanting.

Prompt 84: I’m writing from the other side … 2016. We’re all on the other side now aren’t we? I’m feeling pretty ancient since I’m listening to 60s & 70s music. Anyway that’s the best era for music isn’t it? I remember my English teacher saying how she was caught up in the Beatles fever. It came an era too early for me. So listening to music started for me in the 70s and I only really got into it in the 80s. Tracy Chapman was one of the first artistes I really paid attention to. U2. Chrissie Hynde. Alanis Morissette. So the prompt is to be music-inspired.

Prompt 85: Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark was a hit single on his 1984 Born in the USA album. Its edgy, angsty lyrics expressed the zeitgeist of that era for me, growing up in the 80s. The prompt is to do a retrospective of some kind in your poem.

Note: This post will be verily updated till it reaches six prompts.


Prompt 86: Ain’t she sweet? Dated 1971. I was a mere babe then. All sweet innocence then. The years flew by and here I am, reflecting on all that went by. The lyrics are so simple and yet reflecting too.  The song’s written by Bob Dylan. It was sung by George Harrison too. Of course I didn’t know. I didn’t know a whole lotta stuff. I was all over Olivia Newton John’s sweet innocence. Then things got grittier. Like Bob Dylan’s sandpaper voice. That image via Magpie Tales is all sweet innocence too, aint’t it? That’s your prompt then: sweet innocence.



rain Wolfgang Suschitzky - Charing Cross Road, London, 1937

Charing Cross Road, 1937 by Wolfgang Suschitzky (image via Magpie Tales


Prompts for Red Wolf Journal Chapter 14

Hello everyone,

It’s seven sleeps to Christmas. More or less. Who’s counting? Significantly we’ve come to the end of the year. Where did all the time go, you’re asking, and yea, what kind of year has it been for you, and whatever it was, you’re going to soldier on, aren’t you, and hell, life is a bitch but you will survive, and as long as you’re surviving you will be writing, because you’re a poet, which is why you’re even reading this, or at the very least, quite into poetry, which makes us mad about each other, because we have this one thing in common. End of long sentence. In case you forget, I’m doing these prompts in the hope that you’ll be writing and submitting poems to Red Wolf Journal’s Winter issue. It’s special because it’s kind of our last boat. I’m seeing the irony of the theme of course. Seeing Beauty. You go read about it if you haven’t. Go here to read the theme of Winter 2015 Issue 8.

Prompt 75: You know you’re a poet (or being a poet) when you doubt who you are, when you don’t write. I write this stuff out. It comes out of nowhere but it kind of leads somewhere. There’re all sorts of poets out there, a whole spectrum, who do their own thing. It’s important to them personally. It may not seem important to you. You might even call it crap. But art isn’t crap. Art is supposed to express ethereal things of beauty. So your prompt is to reflect the damn struggle for this kind of expression.


Prompt 76: C K Williams is a poet I revere. I didn’t know he had died earlier this year till now. His poetry has a strong moral impulse. He said, “What I think poets tell themselves, either aloud or unconsciously, is that poetry is part of the moral resonance of the world. Poetry adds to that, that sense that human beings have, that we have some moral meaning that is part of the basis of our identity, no matter what our acts are.” What this moral is you may like to address in your poem.


Prompt 77: In your poem, your character is keeping vigil. Why? It suggests wakefulness, an expectant waiting. Obviously there are some things that are so holy that you need to keep vigil. At a funeral, for one. It is a holy rite, right? As it happens, we’re in the season of Advent. It is a season observed in many Western Christian churches  as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas, says Wikipedia. There is something of the sublime in keeping vigil.


Prompt 78: I read this morning Jane Hirshfield’s poem in which the heart wears different hats and does all sorts of things under the sun. Like “Step silently into blue needle-fall at dawn./Thrash in the net until hit.” Better still: “Lie dormant until they are opened by ice,/by drought.” Is this and that, “salt”, “bitter”, “broken”, “sung”, “carried”. And finally the last two lines holding its full weight: “Each of them opens and closes, closes and opens/the heavy gate–violent, serene, consenting, suffering it all”. The poem is called “The Lives of the Heart” and is the title poem of her collection. The heart is what lives inside us all and it is what truly matters, both literally and figuratively. So ask yourself, is the heart awake or asleep in your poem?


Prompt 79: Today is the Winter Solstice. It is an annual event when the North Pole is tilted furthest, at 23.5 degrees, away from the Sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, because it is tilted away from the sun, and receives the least amount of the sunlight that day. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite happens: people experience their longest day and shortest night. Chinese celebrate the Winter Solstice by eating a dessert of glutinous rice balls (white or pink in color) in a broth. The celebration is related to the theory of Yin and Yang. According to Chinese astrology, Yang symbolizes masculine and positive, Yin has the opposite meanings. The ancient people think from the winter solstice, the Yin is at its peak and will disappear gradually. While the Yang or positive things will become stronger and stronger from the day. So winter solstice is regarded as an auspicious day to celebrate. In your poem, try to reference this idea of yin and yang on the day of Winter Solstice.


Prompt 80: Christian or pagan, Christmas comes once a year and is pretty ritualistic, the feasting and all. We take it all in our stride because it seems to be an expression of stuff like family, togetherness and God. Your poem, if you’re writing one, is to write a lyrical poem about this festive season. Merry Christmas, y’all.

Note: This post will be verily updated till it reaches six prompts.

Prompts for Red Wolf Journal Chapter 13

Hi everyone,

I’ve been doing these prompts for a while now. The last I checked there’re plenty of likers on Facebook. Passive likers. So I don’t know if I’m doing any good here. I’ll keep at it for a while more, as long as the Red Wolf Journal’s Winter 2015 issue is still open for submission. As you’re old enough to know, all good things must come to an end. So that issue’s likely to be my last. These poems and prompts will keep me busy through winter. The submission deadline’s been extended to 28 February 2016. If you want your voice to be included in Red Wolf Journal, then get your poems to us. Think about all the beauty that’s in your world and talk about it in poems. That’s what these prompts are for too, to help get you writing.

Note: This post will be verily updated till it reaches six prompts.

Prompt 69: Yay Christmas knick knacks are all over the place. I love it, papier mache reindeers and all. The festive closure to the year. So you can make up your December story built around this festive feel. There’s the image via Magpie Tales to help you along. This picture reminded me of the time when I visited the Christmas market at Aix-en-Provence.



Prompt 70: It’s not easy to write a good love poem. So this is your challenge. It would have to incorporate the dark side in it too. I mean, can one write of love without any sense of death? John Keats wrote “La Belle Dame sans Merci” addressed to his lover Fanny when he was dying of TB. He had said: “I have left no immortal work behind me – nothing to make my friends proud of my memory – but I have lov’d the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remember’d.” How he had interpreted beauty was of course, in his famous ode: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty’ – that is all / you know on earth, and all ye need to know.”


Prompt 71: You know my favorite thing in the world is a boat. Row row row your boat gently down the stream. There’s this rich couple who retired to the boondocks and ran a farm. And on the farm there is a house. And around the house there is a moat. And get this: a freaking boat. This is a true story. On the farm there’re lots of banana trees and veggies. She was in fact going to set up a culinary academy cooking local produce. Her restaurant serves fig tea. Her real name is Ivy, so her restaurant is called “Poison Ivy”. Guess how I shall end this prompt. Sing with me. Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream.


Prompt 72: Churchgoing spells hope. Hope for ascension. Hope for eternity. Hope for divinity. Hope is huge. Humanity is all about hope. And so your prompt is to write about church, what it stands for. If you’re not a Christian, you may write about going to a temple, or a synagogue or a mosque and what it means. I’d really like to know. Hope is a beautiful thing.


Prompt 73: Jeepers, the prompt is obituary. It’s hard to imagine but we all will get there someday won’t we? Death is kind of a tacky subject. Which is why we veer off it. It fills us with incredible sadness that we will all die. Every one of us is fucked. So where’s the grace in coming to terms with death? When the time comes, do we not want to go gentle into the good night? Totally at peace because we have lived well?


Prompt 74: These prompts are dropping like flies. That aside, this one is asking you to put your character(s) into a before/after scene. The photograph from Magpie Tales should help you to frame your poem story. I like Magpie Tales.


playground getty