Poetry Challenge #50

Ode for Lonely -LY

“DON’T USE ADJECTIVES AND ADVERBS TO PRETTIFY YOUR PROSE!” The warning—BOLD & ALL CAPS—is issued at least once, in every writing class. So much so, that it’s the title of a Writers’ Digest article expounding the excellence of Raymond Carver via his teacher John Gardner’s leaner-is-neater adverb and adjective-free prose.

Following in Carver/Gardner’s footsteps has led us to “cast a suspicious eye on these forms of speech because many times they add little to what is already on the page.” As a result those ly-ending adverbs we once sprinkled throughout our prose as liberally as we sugared our Lucky Charms have been unnecessarily shunned, ignominiously tossed aside, and relegated extremely disposable.

Where have all the adverbs gone? Long time passing . . . What has become of those lowly, loathsome “Ly”s? They are, frankly, lonely.

Hence today’s battle cry and prompt: Down with Understated. Let’s bravely go where no adverb has gone before…(or at least not for a long, long time.)

Let’s write an adverb poem. Begin with the simplest sentence: A subject and a verb. For example: Jack ran. Mary ate. Unicorn flew.

Now ask yourself “how?” Answer by adding an adverb. Repeat that adverb and ask “how?” Answer with another adverb. Keep repeating this pattern, asking “how?” and answering with adverbs, one after the other after the other after the other, until you’ve used all the adverbs you want. Then, bring it to a rousing—or not—finish. As an example, here’s Kelly’s effort:

Ly sat lonely
Dejectedly, roundly, slovenly,
Unsoundly, ashamedly, awkwardly, unconsolably
Day after day in the darkest depths of the keyboard, until . . .
Unabashedly, slap-dashishly, left-handishly I asked “how?”
Look at Ly now!

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*Kelly Bennett and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge over 850 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

Poetry Challenge #49

Poem Stew

Back when I taught at teen writing camp, one of our favorite activities was Story Stew. We would call out an “ingredient” and one of the campers would supply it. When we had our seven words, we’d write a story or poem, trying to use each of the words. It was always surprising how different the stories were.

You can find ingredients for a poem stew yourself. If someone is nearby, ask them for the words in the manner of Mad Libs. Or find them in anything around you: books, magazines, newspapers, the room you’re in.) You will need two nouns (something you can see or touch, not capitalized if possible), a color, a place (not capitalized), an adjective (a word that describes), a verb (an action), and an abstract noun (a word that you can’t touch that names an idea: beauty, hope, justice, chance).

Here are some ingredients I found in case you need them: milkweed, laughter, mulberry, market, delicious, yearn, hope.

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*Kelly Bennett and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge over 850 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

Poetry Challenge #48

Hump Day!

Lots of things have humps. Quickly list as many as you can. Here’s a few to set you thinking:

Hills have humps, whales have humps, camels, too—some one, some two—the Hunchback of Notre Dame had a huge hump which caused him pain, shame & ultimately fame.

Write a poem about one of the humps you listed, or the hump itself. And since the reward following the long trudge up to the end of Wednesday is sliding through Thursday toward the weekend. Bonus points if you shape your poem so it looks like a slide.

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*Kelly Bennett and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge over 850 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.