Prompt for the Week: 9/7/20


Prompt for the Week "Who were you when you first fell in love with writing? In “Be Bold,” Rigoberto González’s profile of Ocean Vuong in Poets & Writers Magazine, Vuong describes the importance of consistently reminding himself of who he was when he first discovered his passion for writing, explaining, “I bring him to the present, not the person who won the awards—he has nothing to teach me.” Spend some time thinking of the person you were when you first came to writing. What were your intentions? What did writing provide that nothing else did? Write an ode to your younger, novice [...]

Prompt for the Week: 9/7/202020-06-23T15:40:59-04:00

Prompt for the Week: 8/31/20


Prompt for the Week “We think of the walls of a house as defining our domestic space, but in the novel these boundaries start to soften, for inside the house it’s as wild as outside,” says Chia-Chia Lin about her debut novel, The Unpassing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), in an interview with Yaa Gyasi in the July/August issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. In the novel, an immigrant family lives in a house in Alaska and deals with isolation, grief, and the vulnerability of the house to infiltration. Write a short story in which the stability of a house as a domestic [...]

Prompt for the Week: 8/31/202020-06-23T15:36:28-04:00

Prompt for the Week: 8/24/20


"When’s the last time you took a really close look at an insect? In Aliens Among Us: Extraordinary Portraits of Ordinary Bugs (Liveright, 2020), photographer Daniel Kariko uses a scanning electron microscope and a stereo microscope to present extreme close-up photographs of insects—beetles, flies, centipedes, bees, wasps. Browse through some of Kariko’s photos, and write a poem inspired by the surprising details you discover in these portraits. Focus on reflecting texture, color, and the form and function of insect bodies into the fabric of your poem." (from Poets & Writers)

Prompt for the Week: 8/24/202020-06-23T15:33:27-04:00

Prompt for the Week: 8/17/20


Prompt for the Week "Inside the Actors Studio, hosted for twenty-two seasons by the late James Lipton, began as a craft seminar for students of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York. Now a well-known network television show, famous actors, writers, and directors are interviewed, and a questionnaire is submitted to the guest. This list of ten questions, meant to reveal deep truths about one’s psychology, includes: “What is your favorite curse word?” “What sound or noise do you hate?” and “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the [...]

Prompt for the Week: 8/17/202020-06-23T15:31:13-04:00

Prompt for the Week: 8/10/20


Prompt for the Week "Write about the thing you wish you'd said." (#porchprompts)

Prompt for the Week: 8/10/202020-06-16T12:36:19-04:00

Prompt for the Week: 8/3/20


Prompt for the Week "What power will your words hold in one hundred years? In the New Yorker profile “Maxine Hong Kingston’s Genre-Defying Life and Work,” Hua Hsu writes about Kingston’s idea to publish a posthumous novel, which came to her after learning that Mark Twain’s autobiography wasn’t released in uncensored form until a hundred years after his death. “If Kingston knew that she wouldn’t have to answer for her work, perhaps she would be able to write more freely,” writes Hsu. Write a short story with the thought that it will not be published or read for one hundred years [...]

Prompt for the Week: 8/3/202020-06-16T12:31:28-04:00

Prompt for the Week: 7/27/20


Prompt for the Week “If we study what we are attracted to, tease out the correspondences, follow the connections, and find the parallels, we make something new—something that speaks to a shared past and idiosyncratic present,” writes Emily LaBarge in a Bookforum review of Moyra Davey’s new essay collection, Index Cards (New Directions, 2020). Write a poem that revolves around a selection of everyday objects that you feel inexplicably drawn to, perhaps a particular pencil or spoon, a favorite mug or lamp, a preferred toothbrush or view from a window. What connections or parallels can you draw between them? How do they exist in [...]

Prompt for the Week: 7/27/202020-06-16T12:29:37-04:00

Prompt for the Week: 7/20/20


Prompt for the Week “However it is encountered, beauty is always an exception, always in despite of. This is why it moves us,” writes John Berger in “The White Bird,” his 1985 essay on aesthetics. Write a personal essay that examines a moment or particular object that you found beautiful during a difficult time in your life. What was this beauty in despite of? Describe the physical and emotional environment that surrounded this object or incident. How did this beauty change your perspective on your situation or on what was going on in the wider world?" (from Poets & Writers)

Prompt for the Week: 7/20/202020-06-16T12:53:37-04:00

Prompt for the Week: 7/13/20


Prompt for the Week “If you’re like me, you may have a tendency to skim over historical passages,” writes Layli Long Soldier in a recent Literary Hub essay about instincts, memory, and the violent history of the United States. “I don’t know why I do this and I don’t like my habit. But I ask you, warmly, to return to accounts from our Lakota ancestors, quoted previously. Take your time. Because, in their words, you may sense an old, yet very present energy.” Begin with a bit of research into a historical event connected to your personal history, taking care to think [...]

Prompt for the Week: 7/13/202020-06-16T12:26:38-04:00

A Poem for You: Bilingual/Bilingüe


Bilingual/Bilingüe BY RHINA P. ESPAILLAT My father liked them separate, one there, one here (allá y aquí), as if aware that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart (el corazón) and lock the alien part to what he was—his memory, his name (su nombre)—with a key he could not claim. “English outside this door, Spanish inside,” he said, “y basta.” But who can divide the world, the word (mundo y palabra) from any child? I knew how to be dumb and stubborn (testaruda); late, in bed, I hoarded secret syllables I read until my tongue (mi lengua) learned to run where [...]

A Poem for You: Bilingual/Bilingüe2020-06-04T14:43:54-04:00

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