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.