Writing Prompts from the Cocoon, April 29

John_Tenniel_-_Illustration_from_The_Nursery_Alice_(1890)_-_c06543_03 Not a writing prompt this week, rather a signpost to online resources that will help you develop your craft.

If you have time on your hands, the renowned Iowa Writers Workshop offers FREE online courses in poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction.

And if you have time and money to spare, the excellent Arvon Foundation and Faber Academy offer a variety of options.

These range from a two hour Arvon Masterclass in Plot and Narrative Structure, (April 30 at 11 AM, cost £35); to Faber’s flagship eight-month course, Writing a Novel Online (application date August 19, cost £2500).

Happy writing – stay well, stay smart, stay kind.

Writing Prompts from the Cocoon – April 21

Four Horses – Photo by David WhyteThis week’s prompt was given to me by Eva O’Callaghan, another Amherst Method creative writing facilitator.

Start by reading “Four Horses”. Eva says: “I like the structure of this poem by David Whyte as a prompt for reflecting on and writing about any happening and its impact. I found it helpful to me to reflect on what is going on in our world at the moment.” She suggests that you write a response that is anchored by these phrases from Whyte’s poem:

  • On XXXday…
  • Since then…
  • Since then…
  • Each morning…
  • I spend my whole day…
  • I find myself wanting to…
  • I find myself wanting to…
  • I hear…
  • I feel…

And if you come up with a poem that you want to publish, be sure to credit its source: after Four Horses by David White

Photo credit David Whyte


Writing Prompts from the Cocoon – April 14

John_Tenniel_-_Illustration_from_The_Nursery_Alice_(1890)_-_c06543_03 Write a poem or a flash fiction that includes all these words, offered by the All-Weather Writers: Pencil – Oily – Diamond – Invoice – Pester – Muddy – Cacophony. Be as serious or as silly as you like. And if this writing prompt appeals, consider following the weekly Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition

Flow Writing

If you get stuck, with this or any other prompt – staring at the blank page, waiting for inspiration to strike – you might consider the excellent Natalie Goldberg‘s excellent advice on flow writing, summarised here.

Unforgettable Broadcast of Poetry and Science on 25 April 2020

Tom Sigafoos

The (Virtual) Universe in Verse will be broadcast on-line on Saturday, April 25 at 21:30 GMT.

The programme will include readings of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, Pablo Neruda, June Jordan, Mary Oliver, Audre Lorde, Wendell Berry, Hafiz, Rachel Carson, James Baldwin, and other titans of poetic perspective, performed by a largehearted cast of scientists and artists, astronauts and poets, Nobel laureates and Grammy winners: Physicists Janna Levin, Kip Thorne, and Brian Greene, musicians Rosanne Cash, Patti Smith, Amanda Palmer, Zoë Keating, Morley, and Cécile McLorin Salvant, poets Jane Hirshfield, Ross Gay, Marie Howe, and Natalie Diaz, astronomers Natalie Batalha and Jill Tarter, authors Rebecca Solnit, Elizabeth Gilbert, Masha Gessen, Roxane Gay, Robert Macfarlane, and Neil Gaiman, astronaut Leland Melvin, playwright and activist Eve Ensler, actor Natascha…

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Writing Prompts from the Cocoon – April 7

Martin-Gale--Over-and-Above--oil-on-canvas--110-x-60-cm_670Today’s writing prompt is an invitation to Ekphrasis – defined by The Ekphrastic Review as “writing inspired by visual art”. Two famous examples of ekphrastic literature are WH Auden’s In the Musée des Beaux Arts, and Tracy Chevalier’s novel (later a movie) Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Today’s Ekphrastic inspiration is the painting “Over and Above by Irish artist Martin Gale. You can learn more about the painting and the artist on the National Gallery of Ireland website.

And if you are happy with what you write, you might consider submitting it to The Ekphrastic Review.

Writing Prompts from the Cocoon – March 31

John_Tenniel_-_Illustration_from_The_Nursery_Alice_(1890)_-_c06543_03For the duration of the duration, I will be posting occasional writing prompts in my blog, on Facebook and on Twitter. First up – given that we are all now hyper-aware of how we stand in relation to each other – is “A Snap Quiz in Body Language”, by David Wagoner:

Click here to read a prose poem I wrote in answer to David Wagoner’s poem, at the first virtual gathering of the wonderful All-Weather Writers. I posted it on the Allingham Festival Facebook page, as a contribution to their  #CreativityAgainstCorona challenge – you might want to do the same.

Stay well, stay safe – Monica

“The Air is Alive with Fear and Care” @AllinghamArts #CreativityAgainstCorona

The Air is Alive with Fear and Careriver and tree

When people greet in South Sudan, they hold hands for many minutes – half an hour if the warmth is strong, the bond of kin or friendship. How is your mother? Your aunt? Your son? And your herd of cattle – thriving? Did the speckled cow survive the difficult birth?

Now the air crackles between us, friend or stranger, in every nation. Two metres. Six feet, the length and depth of a coffin. I walk a narrow path in the woods, meet a man with an unleashed terrier. Will he step to his side, mirror my care? He does.

We smile, we breathe a sigh. The air is alive with fear and care.

On the lake the Swans continue their slow courtship. I am learning the songs of the residents – Blackbird, Robin, Song Thrush, Wren – while they have the forest to themselves.

The evenings are longer by the day. There is no call to quarantine the birds. Larks exhilarate, Starlings murmurate, dark swirls against a clouded sky.

Soon the explorers will arrive from Africa – Cuckoo and Swallow, the creaking Corncrake, not yet extinct. Our small island will levitate with their cacophony, their mating joy. They will tell again their noisy stories, how they navigate by star maps and the magnets in their eyes.

Leave us our green walks, I pray.

O makers of the rules of wise restraint, let me be close to the wisdom of Hazel, let me watch her leaves unfurl out of the cell of winter.

I can do this, I tell myself. Cocoon. Lock-down. Self-isolate.

And if they say I cannot walk between the trees, there is still my garden, small and unruly, in need of love.

I can do this, however long it takes.

If every day I can rinse my heart clean of fear. If I can fill my lungs with God’s green air.

ghamArts #CreativityAgainstCorona