PPP&P will spotlight work from our sister journals at Sundress Publications: Pretty Owl Poetry, Rogue Agent, Stirring, and Wicked Alice. Much like the astrology practiced in Telangana in which a parrot is used to pick some cards as luck for the customer, Prasanna hopes her picks will bring luck (and inspiration) to our readers.
Jim Elledge’s “Identifying the Dead“ begins with enumerated bodies, fragile like a just beginning-to-fall house-of-cards, with fire as the Domino wave starter, and then moves neatly onto lined-up ‘clothing and personal effects’ and absent bodies. Because of the source—quotes from police reports, I was reminded of Robin Coste’s Voyage of the Sable Venus which is “a riveting narrative made up entirely of titles of artworks from ancient times to the present—titles that feature or in some way comment on the black female figure in Western art”.
Find a list or a report from the past that speaks to you and recreate the scene.
Up until reading Sonya Huber’s “What Pain Wants,” Eula Biss’s Pain Scale was the definitive word on pain for me. Hubert flips how how pain is viewed by making pain the subject and antihero of the poem.
Pain wants you to put in earplugs because sounds are grating.
Pain has something urgent to tell you but forgets over and over again what it was.
Flip your subject.
If I hear a sound in the middle of the night, I wonder who’s up this late and what are they up to. And in a moment like that, Jessica Alderman’s poem “La Limpieza,” finds a parallel in a public tragedy that is likened to an everyday action: cleansing.
Crack open a Spanish dictionary and start off with a word whose sound you like.
It is not everyday that I read a poem that begins whose title is a science term. “Half Life,” by Gretchen Miexner is perfectly titled, showing how a long poem can be tethered from the beginning to a singular idea, maintaining the reader’s focus. (With a good mix of alternating surrealism, this poem did not need the boost of an interesting title, but short form bias is the bane of digital age!)
Write a long poem with a scientific title that roots your poem to a singular idea.
Poetic snapshots, Kelsey O’Kelly’s “bad sangria” (and others) take off from the here and now in this digital life, but end up in far reaching places like history and space. (Wait until she reaches Pluto!)
Write a cozy, earth nostalgic poem.
In her poems “what to bring to a die-in” and “cajol,” Amber Flame’s genius lies in her smart use of limited anaphora for only part of each poem.
and if not your guns, then your wide screaming mouths
and if not your screaming mouths, then your gasping tears
and if not your tears, then your fist clenched in anger
and if not your fist, then your hands raised in surrender.
By repeating the phrasing ‘if not your ____ then your ____’ in the first and (‘let it …’ in the second), Flame melds a musical quality into her writing.
Use repetitive lines as a diving board to set the rhythm for your poem.
Pretty Owl Poetry
“Recycling“ is a poem which shows an artist’s enthusiasm at learning a new concept. In this case, “Recycling” echos the new practice of Capsula Mundi while also echoing the traditional ideas of bodies returning to earth “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Even with a great rocket-like velocity, an idea needs more for that momentum to make the readers say ‘again,’ like a toddler does. Stephanie Cawley‘s poem manages this with contrasts like slant of light/mirrored curves:
pulp made not from trees but old atlases
But old atlases themselves were once made from paper, another stunning contrast. Recycling itself can result in contrast, depending on what is placed before/after.
Write a poem of contrasts
Write a poem of contrasts with enthusiasm for a new concept.
In “Portrait of Girl Falling,” Emily Anne Hopkins crafts a cadence which lends additional meaning to words even when they are repeated consecutively.
She knew a girl who went blind
in this business. Lost balance.
The building up of rhythm is delightfully contrary to foreshadowed fall in the title.
Pick a hard sound like “B” or “P” for alliteration. Line up those drum soldiers and see what march your poem is capable of.
Feel free to share your responses to Prasanna’s prompts in the comments below!