Wednesday, April 5, 2017

NaPoWriMo 2017 - Prompts #4 and #5 - Making Words, Making Lists

Oldest known picture of a dragon, Ishtar Gate
What name would you make up for it?
Time to play a little catch up!  I was not feeling well yesterday, so I have two prompts to post for today (not to mention two poems to write).

So for prompt #4 we are going to expand on the language idea from prompt #3.  This time, you will be including a word or words that you make up!  You've probably seen plenty of poems with nonsense words or words the author has 'coined' themselves.  A classic is Jabberywocky by Lewis Caroll. 

Prompt #4:  Write a poem with a word or words that you make up.  Do your made up words have meaning or are they utter nonsense?  What is the reader's experience with these words - will they perceive a meaning from context, or will the words remain mysterious?  How do the words function in the poem?  Are they used to create a sense of confusion, playfulness, or perhaps alienation?  Consider these questions as you make up your words and craft your poem.

For something more specific, try writing your poem such that the nonsense word is repeated several times.  You can decide if this helps to underscore the meaning and emotion, or if it changes from one use to the next.

For prompt #5 we are going to take a look at a Japanese form known as zuihitsu - "fragmented ideas that typically respond to the author's surroundings" or "random jottings."  Kimiko Hahn says of the form that it is "a kind of randomness that is not really random, but a feeling of randomness ... can also resemble other Western forms: lists, journals ... Letter writing, diary form."

Prompt #5:  Write a poem in the form of zuihitsu.  To focus your writing, use the Western form of a list poem with at least 8 items on the list.  What is the relationship between the items?  How is the poem both random, and yet not?  How does the list form serve the poem?  Think about these questions as you create your poem.

To be more specific, try a list poem like a "Top Ten" list, numbering backwards from ten to one.  How does this sort of form change your approach to writing the poem?

And of course, as usual, I'll be trying to imagine how to do both of these through a speculative theme like science fiction, fantasy, or horror.

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: Dragon Image - CC 2.5 - Ishtar Gate Dragon

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