Prompt No. 10 for Dec 12, 2013

12/12/13. That’s the kind of number that makes me think of my dad.

If you were following me here you might have wondered why there was no 12/12 prompt. Or, if you were following on Facebook, you might have noticed that I explained I was busy at work and I offered you a lovely Persian poet to read instead. In any case, I’m a couple of days late, it’s true, and I’m sorry if you were counting on me. But, I’m guessing you weren’t. Who are you? And I hope you liked Ahmad Shamlou (in Farsi).

The post I planned for Thursday, is a warmup exercise. I call it “Color Warm Up for Writer’s Block.” We all have days when we’re too tired, too cranky, too overwhelmed, too busy. The holidays are busy times, whether you are warming up Hanukkah leftovers or  thinking that you only had 2+ weeks until Christmas. Or maybe you’re planning a Winter Solstice party and there’s just not time to write a poem, for crying out loud! Or, maybe you’re really blocked — the stress has gotten under your skin and even though you have time and want to write, there is nothing there. This prompt is what I turned to this week, because I was overwhelmed, and it made me happy, it made me very nostalgic, and I eventually got a tiny poem.

“Color Warm up for Writer’s Block” is very simple. Pick a color. Write it at the top of a piece of paper. Then list all the things you can think of that are that color. For example: Brown. Sanka brown. Age spots on my hands brown. Picture frame brown. Picture frame around a child’s drawing brown. Picture frame around a child’s drawing of a moth brown. Tree bark brown. Desert rock brown. Desk drawer brown. Wastebasket brown. It doesn’t work if you don’t use the color word in each image. The color becomes part of a breath, or a mantra. It keeps you focused on the color and you are more likely to pick objects speaking from your unconscious. Hence, the block-breaking power!

Notice how the emotion of the color changes as you work your way through the strange list you are making. Bulletin board brown. Cat paw brown. My mother-in-law’s rocking chair brown. Broken compost bin boards brown.

Notice that there is a story in some of the things you name, a story you wouldn’t have seen if you hadn’t been looking at the objects through this artificial lens.

Let a poem drift up through the objects on your list. The color you have been looking at may be in the poem, or not.

Old rocking chair
the coffee in my cup
is the same color as her hands

I hope you’ll find a chance to use this prompt this season. Give yourself a break. Don’t try to write the best poetry of the year; just notice what color the paper is.

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