Not me, literally. Your bookshelf.
Well, not literally your bookshelf, either.
Today’s exercise leans on some of our most prized possessions to help us draft. Take a look at your bookshelf (or the stack next to your bed…or next to your couch…you get the idea). Write down six to ten titles.
Make your choices carefully – titles that are evocative but not too specific work best. For instance, right now, I am looking at Susan Messer’s Grand River and Joy – that would be a good choice. I am also looking at New and Selected Poems by Stephen Dunn. Wonderful book, but not a good title choice for our exercise.
Here’s a sample list from my shelf:
Grand River and Joy – Susan Messer
Rant – Chuck Palahniuk
Migration – W.S. Merwin
The Boys’ House – Jim Heynen
Living After Midnight – Lee K. Abbott
A Season Inside – John Fienstein
Our Choice – Al Gore
Try to incorporate the titles into a poem draft. If you need to change the form or tense of a word, feel free. As with the iPod exercise we did in January, you can challenge yourself to keep the phrases intact, or you can use the words individually, making the titles more of a word bank.
Here is my attempt from the list above. Title words are in blue:
The boys came ‘round after midnight,
ranting about hating the city, how living
here meant nothing anymore. We swooned
at their rebel joy, planned our migration
to somewhere truer. We’d camp beside
a grand river and finally build a house
after living for a season in the open air.
But the joy would disappear in the bickering,
the difficulty of the labor. We would get cold.
Our hearts would harden. Once inside, we
would realize the folly of our choice, how
nothing really changes. And we would find
our way, maybe not home, but somewhere.