Prompt for RWJ, Prompt 235

I’d just read a very thoughtful essay by a student from Trumpland. I get it. Last evening I’d watched a documentary about Trumpland. Down to Ku Klux Klan beliefs about white supremacy, it’s about beliefs isn’t it? I believe therefore I am. Everyone’s beliefs are differently shaped by their geography and circumstance. At the end of the day it’s all about survival isn’t it? Like the student who wrote the essay I hope for a middle path. Extremists on both sides of the divide represent their truths. Truths are more complicated than that. Just like the white woman who doesn’t get the women’s march, which grew so epic yesterday, is it because she is speaking from a position of privilege? Having grown up in a sanctuary, how would she know the other’s truth? Society fought for women’s rights back then, but those rights continue to be violated and is it so wrong that women, in solidarity, refuse to be silenced? If you remain in silence, then you’re complicit. Didn’t someone say that poetry doesn’t simplify these truths? Be glad for poetry–it gets a bad rap, and continue to be berated for its uselessness in a world that privileges economic truths above all else. Write about your truth, sure, but then know that it’s not somebody else’s truth. So what is truth, friends and frenemies?


Prompt for RWJ, Prompt 234

I woke up to watch the live streaming of Trump’s inauguration. I wish you well, America. What sort of values will you espouse? Write about it maybe. Oh the dignity of that office, and how Trump will carry it, the world watching in bated breath. Holding it holding it holding it.


Prompt for RWJ, Prompt 233

Hello there, still sharpening your word skills? I guess if I’m a character I’d be falling into love with wordsmiths. With words we invent a world. With words we perform rites of ceremony, of magic, of declaration. With words we woo. With words we regularize what is at hand. “Trump’s America”! That’s at hand. Anyway you go make up a world with words in a poem. That’s what you do right? Do it right.

Prompt for RWJ, Prompt 232

So what were your happiest times? My son asked me. Think back and you’d find that those were the periods of new growth. Then usually that came with some disappointments. It’s as if once you’ve gained something you’d also lose a couple other things. Or perhaps it were those years when the future seemed full of promise and you were swanning around carefree and all. But you’d changed when, for instance, you fell in love. To be enthralled with another is perhaps one of those happiest times. Then when you’d gotten to the hard bits, had your heart broken, or whatever it was, you’d figure out the various ways in which you can be happy under your own skin, with whoever you’re with, however your heart dances. Perhaps you’d like to write about real happiness–what’s your theory on that?

Prompt for RWJ, Prompt 231

“Magic is everywhere if only we’d knew where to look.” I read this quote/thought this morning. It’s one of those gentle reminders. It’s also the reason why we’re poets. We look and we look, don’t we? So here’s a relevant quote from Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”, which I’d first came across in my lit geek uni days:

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.”

Ponder upon it and come up with some magic, will ya?

Prompt for RWJ, Prompt 230

Hey there, peeps! It’s Day 3 of 2017 and I’ve just had the pleasure of reading an exquisite story (Alice Munro, “Oh, What Avails”). Why is it so? What sort of analogy to use? A master storyteller peels off layer after layer finally to reveal the pattern of an entire life, or rather, lives, as a single life is inevitably entwined with other lives, isn’t it so? If you’re an author thinking about character, you’d do best if you mark out a single affliction for that character. And then you weave it so that the story is about how the character deals with it. There’re simply too many examples (Hamlet, Faustus, Humbert in Lolita, etc etc) so I would not want to cloud your mind. But do not let the secret out till towards the end, then you’d have blown the reader’s mind. The way you let it out is not to really let it all out. Is that enough of a prompt?

Prompts for RWJ, Prompt 229

I don’t know about you but I feel optimistic about the new year. Maybe I’m just a die-hard optimist and feel amazing at a new beginning. You know there’s going to be challenges and hard knocks somewhere down the road, but those are for your new growth. One of the things I did today, the first day of 2017, is to write down all the ‘moments’ of 2016 –whether it be travel, something work-related, or personal events–and I’ve come to see that it has laid a new kind of foundation for me. There were highs and lows, and a whole lot of humdrum. Yet it just takes a change, however big or small, to set a new path. So your prompt is to do some sort of reflection of your place in the world.