Monday, February 3, 2014


I recently returned from a residency in the lettered city of Pittsburgh where I spent a couple of weeks buzzing around with some truly inspiring wordsmiths. Many were fiction writers, as I am, but the program (an MFA with Carlow University) is dedicated to the idea that the best literary inflorescence comes from cross pollination between genres. I’ve come to believe this.

So, I was glad to see that some of my fellow bloggers here looked to poetry for interesting writing activities in January. (See Jacqueline Jules’ post on 1/13 and Mary Quattlebaum’s on 1/27). I’m going to plant another idea that I think young word crafters might enjoy as much as I did when award-winning fiction writer Jane McCafferty shared this poem-as-prompt in a workshop. She recommends a short time limit to capture what first darts into mind.

PROMPT: Read the following poem and then write an emulation, using your own dreams and/or wishes as subject matter. You can follow the structure very closely or create your own poetic or prose form.

In Praise of Dreams, by Wislawa Szymborska (abbreviated)

In my dreams
I paint like Vermeer van Delft.

I drive a car
that does what I want it to.

I am gifted
and write mighty epics.

My brilliance as a pianist
would stun you.

I fly the way we ought to,
i.e., on my own.

I’ve got no problem
breathing under water.

I’m a child of my age,
but I don’t have to be.

A few years ago
I saw two suns.

And the night before last a penguin,
clear as day.

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