|Young women celebrating their 15th year - Quinceañeras|
A traditional entry into adulthood celebrated
in many Latino cultures.
Many cultures have gateways, rites, or celebrations to mark the entry of a person into adulthood. But each culture has its own ideas of what it means to be an adult. For some cultures, it is expected that people might do any of the following: marry, have children, get jobs, make important decisions, take full care of themselves, or take care of older relatives. Some people say they are "adulting" when they are fixing the dishwasher, making a dentist appointment, paying bills, commuting to work, and other tasks.
And here, of course, are a few lines about adulthood, and what it means to be an adult, as found in poetry:
Our Never by Benjamin S. Grossberg
Is the never of childhood, deeper
than the never of adolescence,
which has a whining, stammering
quality, which is a stamped foot
followed by huffing steps, and wholly
unlike the never of adulthood,
has none of the bright spider
cracks of reason multiplying
along its roof, threading its dark
dome with fine lines of light.
from Citizen, VI [My brothers are notorious] by Claudia Rankine
Then there are these days, each day of our adult lives. They will never forget our way through, these brothers, each brother, my brother, dear brother, my dearest brothers, dear heart—
Your hearts are broken. This is not a secret though there are secrets. And as yet I do not understand how my own sorrow has turned into my brothers’ hearts.
You Can’t Have It All by Barbara Ras
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can’t bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia
Prompt #27: Choose some aspect of the concept of "adulthood" and write a poem. What are the characteristics of people who are acting as adults? What happens when people are treated as children even when they are adults? What happens to children forced to be adult-like? What are the responsibilities and requirements of adults? What are the implications for culture and society, as they define adulthood? Consider these ideas as you craft your poem.
For something more specific, write about a rite of passage that signifies adulthood.
And naturally I'll be thinking of what I can do with this theme in a sci-fi, horror, or fantasy context.
Did you use this or one of our other prompts? You can post your poem in our comments, if you like.
Prompts crafted by:
J.A. Grier, Senior Scientist and Education Specialist, Planetary Science Institute
Amy Grier, Managing Editor, Solstice Literary Magazine
Image Credits: The Garden Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0