About Your Mark

About Your Mark

I recently read Amy King’s Ancient Sunlight (brought to me by Poem-a-Day) and I have been thinking about her words as well as her motivation for writing the poem:

‘Ancient Sunlight’ is a consideration of the ways in which we attempt to preserve aspects of ourselves via identity, via material existence (hence the physics aspect) and in seemingly ironic conflict with the idea that we must die in order to achieve immortality. That is, the conservative definition is ‘to live forever,’ but since death is a transition necessary to appreciate the shifts and cycles of being, the larger scope of immortality is often conflated with a desire to be remembered, so would it be a disaster to go on living forever, inevitably forgotten?

These ideas challenge me to think about the purpose and meaning of my life. I was raised to believe that it is not enough to simply live and be — it is a requirement to live a life of purpose. Throughout my teaching career I have always challenged my students to think about the purpose and meaning of their lives and I still believe this is a good writing prompt to explore our identity and to help us understand ourselves better.

Think and write about that essential question, what is the purpose of your life, but also consider:

  • What gives your life meaning?
  • Do you want to be remembered or leave a mark on the world?
  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • Has your purpose changed over the years?

And as always, share your reflections (or poetry!) using the #JustWrite hashtag.

Artwork from Pixabay

Thinking About the Hinge

Thinking About the Hinge

This morning I read A Better Life by Randall Mann and I am still thinking about this poem. I have already written in my journal this morning and I expect I will return to this idea again which is why I wanted to share this poem as a writing prompt. Mann notes: “I wrote this poem on the cusp of my forty-fifth birthday; in what is likely the middle of my life” and, in fact, in the poem refers to this event as the “hinge” of his life. 

That one phrase made me think about the hinges of my life — the turning points — the times when our lives pivoted in some essential way. I love that idea of “hinges” because it can be a door or a gate opening or closing or swinging in the breeze. So my charge to you is to write about the hinges of your life — a time when it is useful to your growth to reflect on what came before and after that pivot point in your life. It does not need to be a poem although it might well turn into one.

And as always, share your reflections (or poetry!) using the #JustWrite hashtag.

Artwork by Marcu Ioachim

A Poem A Day

A Poem A Day

I’ve written before that signing up for the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day was one of the best things I could do for myself as someone still working their way to a place where she might be able to call herself a poet (still not there!). The poems themselves are such an eclectic selection of older works and newer poems that I am constantly exposed to new poetry and reminded of poetry that I once experienced but had slipped out of memory. Not only are these poems wonderful experiences by themselves they also inspire me to write poetry — they are often terrific writing prompts.

In fact, sometimes the poem is the inspiration, making me think about something from my life or think about something in a new way, but often I also find inspiration in the “About this poem” section in which the poet shares their inspiration and/or the story behind the work.

I recommend subscribing to the Poem-A-Day service even if you are not interested in poetry, because the poems and stories can inspire writers on many levels. If you are worried about email clutter (which I understand completely) then simply stop by and visit upon occasion when you are looking for inspiration. You will not be sorry.

Saucijsjes

Saucijsjes

The thing to remember about cooking with grandma is that
Nothing is exact
No measuring cups or spoons
Just dollops, scoops, and pinches
Everything is by touch and taste
Until it is right  

First divide the sausage
Six to a pound if you are feeding the family
Twelve for a party
Already I’m cheating because I use premixed sausage from the store
Roll each portion into an oblong
Ignore the fat coating your skin seeping into your pores
As sage tickles your nose
The microwave a betrayal
Of grandma frying on the stovetop
Turning rows of sausages quickly with a wooden spoon
Serving as punctuation to her story
Or meting out punishment
Pat the sausages dry
Then wrap into tidy dough packages
At least my dough is made from scratch
And tuck into a greased pan
Leaving room to expand
Baking leaves just time for a cup at the kitchen table
And a story about grandpa
Polish each brown-tinted package with butter
Serve with applesauce on the side
Watch that first bite
Or you will burn your mouth
Biting into memory  

The thing to remember about cooking with grandma is that
Nothing is exact
No measuring cups or spoons
Just dollops, scoops, and pinches
Everything is by touch and taste
Until it is right  

To Camp

To Camp

Soul sick and weary

The road to Yosemite

Promises cleansing

Never the same journey twice

Bonds renewed, joy recovered

 

This Tanka poem was inspired by our yearly (sometimes twice yearly) trek to deliver our son to church camp in Yosemite, Kentucky. He has fun with new and old friends, but it is also a very spiritual experience for him. It has been a wonder to watch him grow as a result of this experience. And both literally and figuratively, the journey to Yosemite has never been the same for us no matter how many times we travel to Camp Wa’kon-DaHo.