Saturday, April 8, 2017

NaPoWriMo 2017 - Prompt #8 - Absence

In a field / I am the absence / of field.
In the poem "Keeping Things Whole" by Mark Strand, we encounter a unique treatment of the concept of absence.  A recognition that, just by being, we must create a space for ourselves within the larger environment.  We push ourselves into the air, the flowers, the wheat.  Where we are, those things are not.  Then we pass through, and the field remains nothing but a field once again.  Absence is so much more than a empty place.  In some Asian architecture and decorating, the lack of a item or piece of furniture is just as important as a piece placed elsewhere. (i.e. Feng Shui)  The nothingness has both form and function.

Prompt #8:  Write a poem that evokes absence.  Consider the concept in its broadest sense.  Write the poem that grapples with nothingness - its definition, its function, and the emotions around it.  Consider loss - the space once claimed by a person, animal, or place that used to be in your life.  Perhaps it is the loss of a function, a role, a job, or friends.  Write the poem that explores something that is not there.

For something more specific, try playing with the white space on the page.  Play with line lengths, word spacing, and paragraph breaks.

And of course I'll be considering the concept of absence as reflected in science fiction, horror, and fantasy.

Did you use this or one of our other prompts?  You can post your poem in our comments, if you like.

Happy Writing!

Prompts crafted by:
J.A. Grier, Senior Scientist and Education Specialist, Planetary Science Institute
Amy Grier, Managing Editor, Solstice Literary Magazine
Image Credits: A Field in Belgium

By I, Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 3.0,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Absence Counts: Going Home Again

(Poem written in response to 3 prompts: #2 - Longing for place; #7 - counting up and down; #8 - absence):

The snow fell hard...
And then it stopped

Driving back home to
Marstown through the ploughing
Windshield winter bleak...
Time seemed to slow down,
For a time, to a windless,
Lifeless,leafless wintry blur.

Open the door...get out
Of the car: check the keys
Again - time to bring in
The news of the year to
The family's old, wintry
Home; bleak is the night...
The flightless light...time
Slows down (for now)...

And you are home again.


(Bleak is the wintry death:
Four men die - alone - on a

While you were on a train,
South...back home to Illinois

...onto the family's winter


Back into the back depth
Behind the back of the
Winter door: your keys unlock
The old, sterile garage:
Face mask in the window's
Glass: (a drummer's look -
Counting behind the lost-
Ness of days...all death
Behind the frozen,winter seeds.)

Time to (enter): sit down
(Behind the mask): at the
Old, dusty kit behind the
Sealed-in (winter-tight) fro-
Zen family home (of wintry, ster-
Ilized, old and bitter dreams):

(The leaves fell down between
Some trees; the sheets all
Called the numbered rock:
Count down, from 2, beyond
The 4...and I will tip the

You've left behind no notes
To play (beyond the wintry
Time): death takes (not),
Some new, and rhythmic holiday...

And you are left alone.

The kit: it's gone.
No drummer's pad
To hit.
The death that took
The plane of men --
Left you without a
Catcher's mitt:

The drums are left behind:
No stool for you to sit:
You click some sticks --
Count down t "4"...
Man: death -- it really sucks!