Writing Prompt Saturday, Write an Ghazal Poem

Four days until a really awesome announcement

Yet another really obscure poetry form, ghazal poetry is going to be my new favorite thing for awhile. For one thing, it’s all about couplets, which means that it is twitter friendly.

So, a ghazal poem is at least five couplets, traditionally no more than fifteen. The first couplet should end with a refrain that will finish each couplet.

Traditionally, ghazal poetry was very melancholic. So if you’ve been getting the stupid amount of rain I have, it’s great.

Here is a example of ghazal poetry.

“Even the Rain” By Agha Shahid Ali

What will suffice for a true-love knot? Even the rain?
But he has bought grief’s lottery, bought even the rain.

“our glosses / wanting in this world” “Can you remember?”
Anyone! “when we thought / the poets taught” even the

After we died—That was it!—God left us in the dark.
And as we forgot the dark, we forgot even the rain.

Drought was over. Where was I? Drinks were on the house.
For mixers, my love, you’d poured—what?—even the rain.

For all of us in the states, hope you’re having a great fourth. We are blowing things up and grilling greasy meat here. How about you?

Writing Prompt Saturday, Writing As A Toy

What was your favorite toy as a kid?

I was not loyal, or consistent.  I had a different favorite every week.  One time it was a mermaid doll that was accidentally left in a restaurant forty five minutes away.  Once it was a building set that consisted of little circular things with three feet.  They looked just like those plastic things that hold pizza boxes up.  Once it was this stuffed cat that had two little cats inside it.  (Does anyone else remember those?  Do you remember the extra kittens you could buy?)

I still have toys.  I love stuffed animals still.  I buy art supplies, and stickers.  I have no less than three different pairs of scissors that put different edges on a piece of paper.

At its best, writing is a toy.  It’s a game.  The question is, what kind of toy is it?

For me, I think of writing as a big box of blocks.  You can give two kids the same box of blocks, and they will make totally different things.  My older monster will make a rocket, while the little one will make a house.  Or the Tardis.  It’s the same with writing.  Take a contest that has a specific idea you have to work off, for instance.  Mash is a good example, but it’s not the only one.  You look at all the different stories that come from that prompt, and it’s amazing how varied those stories will be.

So that’s your prompt for the day.  If writing were a toy, what would it be?

I’d also like to throw out a giant congratulations to all of the couples who can now get legally married in America.  For those of you who don’t live in America, we finally got around to making marriage legal for all couples, not just those who happen to have two different genders.  Marriage equality took way too long, but we’ve got it now.  My prayer for every single couple is that your wedding is as wonderful and significant as mine was, and not one bit less blessed.

Writing Prompt Saturday, Write a Sestina

We do love our poetry here at Paper Beats World, even if I can’t write it very well.

This week’s new form I bet you’ve never heard of is the sestina.  A sestina poem is a fixed verse form consisting of six stanzas of six lines each, normally followed by a three-line envoi. The words that end each line of the first stanza are used as line endings in each of the following stanzas, rotated in a set pattern. (Curtsey of Wikipedia.)  Since that didn’t mean a lot to me when I read it, here’s an example of what I mean.

This is by Elizabeth Bishop, and try as I might, I couldn’t find a title.

September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.

She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,

It’s time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle’s small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.

Writing Prompt Saturday, When My Children are Older

I think we all spend more time then we should, dreaming of what our children will be when they grow up. Honestly, the only thing on that list should be ‘happy’. But we all dream.

Today, write a list of all the things you want for your kids when they are grown. Not what you want them to be, what you want for them. Here’s mine.

* I want my girls to have a lover who makes them see the best in themselves.
* I want them to have a passion in life that they can use.
* I want them to be healthy.
* I want them to have great friends who support them, and compete with them just enough to keep them both sharp.
* I want them to be able to enjoy a beer, or a hand of cards or a saucy book without losing themselves to those things.
* I want them to grow up, but not lose childhood joys. Never should they think themselves too old for an ice cream.
* I want them to mind their health, but never their pant size.
* I want them to always be happy on their birthdays.
* I want them to vote every single year. I want them to be with people who vote.
* I want them to stand up for others, but also stand up for themselves. Too often we see one but not the other.
* And finally, I never want there to be a day where they don’t laugh.

Writing Prompt Saturday, Write a Epistle poem

I’m noticing a theme with poetry.  The different forms all have these lovely complicated names that give you no idea of what they’re actually for.  Why is that?  Personally, I think poets are just trying to punk us.  Epistle poetry is a great example, because it just means a poem in the form of a letter.

Epistle poetry comes from the Roman Empire, and was made popular by Horace.  Many are intimate, sent to one person, and are often love letters.  But I found this really great one by Elizabeth Bishop that just caught me by surprise.

Letter to N.Y.
For Louise Crane

In your next letter I wish you’d say
where you are going and what you are doing;
how are the plays, and after the plays
what other pleasures you’re pursuing:

taking cabs in the middle of the night,
driving as if to save your soul
where the road goes round and round the park
and the meter glares like a moral owl,

and the trees look so queer and green
standing alone in big black caves
and suddenly you’re in a different place
where everything seems to happen in waves,

and most of the jokes you just can’t catch,
like dirty words rubbed off a slate,
and the songs are loud but somehow dim
and it gets so terribly late,

and coming out of the brownstone house
to the gray sidewalk, the watered street,
one side of the buildings rises with the sun
like a glistening field of wheat.

—Wheat, not oats, dear. I’m afraid
if it’s wheat it’s none of your sowing,
nevertheless I’d like to know
what you are doing and where you are going.

I love the beat of this poem.  The subject matter seems to say, without saying, that she wishes Louise would come home, and that she’s not sure she’s safe there in New York, as it seems a very foreign place to her.

So this week, try writing an epistal poem.

Writing Prompt Saturday- Your worlds favorite author

Since we talked about literature in your world on Sunday, let’s get more specific.

Who is the most famous author in your world? What genre is most popular? Is the author a man or woman? Are they nice, fat headed? What do they look like? What’s her opinion of her fans? How do people react to her?

I had some fun with this in Woven. It actually gave me a great character that I had a lot of fun writing. Hopefully it will do the same for you.

Writing Prompt Saturday- Create a Found Poem

Warning; this is not a poetry form for you if you’re not really cool with defacing old books.  This is the poetry form for you if you’re also into drawing, painting, scrap booking, or collage work.

A found poem is one that you discovered in the existing text on a page.  I think I used to do this during Science class by accident in my textbooks.  Basically, you go along, and in some way highlight the words of your poem.  Then get creative with the rest.  Here’s an example of mine.

found poem

If you can’t tell from that really bad scan job, that’s the first page of Treasure Island, and the words are, “I take up my pen in the time, and remember, in the broken voice.”

I had so much fun with this poetry form.  Fortunately I happened to have this really old Readers Digest edition of some classic stories that I intend to do this with.

Did you create a found poem you’d like to share with us?  Leave a picture in the comments below!

Writing Prompt Saturday, Write a Ekphrasis Poem

Here again, we come to what has to be my favorite post, and I think it’s yours, too.  This week, we’re talking about ekphrasis poetry.

Don’t be intimidated.  It’s a really big, hard to pronounce word that really just means a poem in which you describe something.  It was started in Greece, by no other great poet than Homer.  He wrote about the Shield of Achilles, which such depth of detail and an ear for lyrical writing.  Anything that Homer does is pure gold, and this is just one more thing we’ve got to thank him for.  I mean, who else from that age are people still reading and enjoying?

Here’s an example from the master.  I couldn’t hope to come up with something as cool as this.

“And first Hephasestus makes a great and massive shield, blazoning well-wrought emblems all across its surface, raising a rim around it, glittering, triple-ply with a silver shield-strap run from edge to edge and five layers of metal to build the shield itself.”

Gorgeous isn’t it?  I’m not the only one who fan girls about Homer, am I?  So this week, your writing prompt is to write an Ekphrasis poem.

Writing Prompt Saturday- Fantasy food world.

Remember how I like food? It’s kind of my thing, well one of my things.

It’s not just me, though. Food tells you so much about a person, a culture, a life style.

So for this week’s writing prompt, I want you to spend ten minutes free writing about the most popular food in your book. Is it a modern dish like pizza, or something you make up? How about a world like Firefly where fresh fruit is a delicacy that only the well off can afford?

Take ten minutes to write on that.

Next, consider how your main character feels about that food.

Writing Prompt Saturday- List Jobs

This week, I’d like to continue a writers notebook building exercise that I started at the end of last month.

That’s right, it’s a list!

I love lists. Today, we’re going to make a list of jobs.

100 jobs someone can have, to be precise. Because sometimes you’re going to have that character that has a job that isn’t a huge part of their story, but what they do for a living still matters. Lots of them, probably. And it’s far more fun to write about some unique or interesting job than a boring one, or one that everyone’s heard of.

Just like last month, I’d love to see a list built here, right on the site. So, same rules as last time. I’m going to list ten jobs. Then, anyone who wants can list ten more in the comments section.

1. Vet
2. EMT, or Ambulance driver
3. Housekeeper
4. FBI agent
5. Waiter
6. Copy editor
7. Police officer
8. Illustrator
9. Librarian
10. Writer

Funny thing is, I’ve also wanted to be all of the things on that list at one time.

What can you come up with?

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