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prompt 173 Culture Shock!

September 5, 2013

Hello WWP folks! I am honored to be part of the prompt team of We Write Poems. This is my first prompt and I am very excited.

It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that we have been around as a online poetry community for now over three years. That makes a very strong statement about WWP and the value in what we do here. It couldn’t have been done without you, your participation, and…most importantly, your poems.

Now….on with the prompt. 🙂

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” – C.S. Lewis

That quote from Lewis’ book, The Magician’s Nephew, is a perfect introduction to this week’s prompt. Why do I say that? Because you, dear poets, are going to go exploring to another world. And the poem you write with this prompt begins that journey. (Of course, if you feel like writing something else and sharing it with us, that’s cool too. As the Isley Brothers put it, “It’s your thing…do what you want to do”.)

Step 1: Pick a Character

First things first: you are going to decide who your speaker or character is. You have a great deal of latitude in terms of who this will be. Consider the possibilities:

  1. You could create a brand new character.
  2. You could take the protagonist you created during Irene’s summer prompts on another adventure.
  3. You could borrow a character from someone else’s fictional universe. You might take Alice Liddell on another magical ride. Or Shug Avery might take a boat to India. Where might you take Wolverine or Sherlock Holmes? Oh, the places you can go! (Note: if you use a fictional character, clearly indicate this in your process notes and give credit to the original artist/creator.)
  4. You could borrow a real, historical figure and take them on your upcoming adventure.
  5. Or…you are your own protagonist.
  6. What about inanimate objects, animals, or other non-sentient beings or objects? Might you anthromorphize the sun, your car, or a cloud of gas? This could get interesting.

The sky’s the limit, folks.

Step 2: Take Your Character to an Unfamiliar Place

Secondly: you should take your character to a place with which he/she/it/they would be totally and completely unfamiliar. What would happen if you dropped a twelfth century Brahmin priest in a Midwestern steel town in the twentieth century? How would you react to being taken to a lunar colony in the year 3050 A.D.? What about dropping Jim Morrison into Tolkien’s Middle-earth? How would your dog handle existing on Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise?

Step 3: What Do They See?

Thirdly: convey your character’s perceptions of that reality, through his/her/its/their eyes (if you want to write your poem in first person, you might do this in his/her/its/their voice(s) or language). How does a Starfleet uniform look to a first century Galilean? How might the Cat in the Hat describe the White House? What words might Joan of Arc use to speak about a Cherokee village in 1790? Keep your character’s perceptions and descriptions to within the realm of their knowledge – for a first century Galilean would not use the words “transporter” or “warp speed” (unless directly quoting a Starfleet officer), so how do these things look to this person in his or her language?

This is the first of a series of four prompts this month. Stay tuned, folks. It’s going to be a wild ride.


  1. September 5, 2013 3:43 am

    Exactly, Nicole, three years is a marathon. From newborn to a toddler. Still tottering.

    • September 5, 2013 6:11 am

      Still tottering and still growing. 🙂 and looking forward to the future.


      • September 5, 2013 6:42 am

        Nicole, I remember we were over at your blog discussing…the future. In which we now find ourselves. You know the funny thing? It all happened by accident. All of this. Makes you wonder, all the forces had to be there to make this happen. At least we’re not a flash in the pan. But will all the forces make us evaporate one day? Only time will tell.

        • September 6, 2013 12:02 pm

          Sometimes, the best things happen by accident. 🙂

        • September 6, 2013 4:38 pm

          There’s also the theory that nothing happens by accident. Whatever happens needs the blessing of the stars. And also energy. *pant pant*

  2. September 5, 2013 3:44 am

    Poem? Short Story/flashfiction? Does it matter?

  3. September 5, 2013 6:09 am

    This’ll get me started

    • September 5, 2013 6:48 am

      What an excellent response. Trail blazer!

    • September 5, 2013 7:06 am

      My first response was, “Wow”. I’ll be back later to comment more. 🙂


  4. September 5, 2013 7:10 am

    Just finished reading a biography of Robert Edward Lee.
    Where there were green fields

    • September 5, 2013 7:38 am

      A very sobering response, Donald. I’ll be back to comment more extensively later.


  5. September 5, 2013 7:25 am

    My poem attempts to begin to answer this question: what would happen if Star Trek’s Cmdr. Data were to walk through a time portal and end up on mid-1960’s Earth, in Northern Arizona?


  6. September 6, 2013 12:41 am

    Love the quote!

    My poem as inspired by prompt here

    • September 9, 2013 10:38 am

      Thank you, Irene. Not to give too much away for the next few prompts, but I chose quotes based on a particular theme, but each illuminating different aspects of that same theme. I never knew prompting could be this much fun. 🙂

      • September 9, 2013 6:52 pm

        Yea, you get to play Pied Piper!

  7. September 6, 2013 5:57 am

    The enigmatic quote by Jimmy Durante explained.

  8. September 6, 2013 12:36 pm

    Hi Nicole! I’m not ignoring you. I have an idea in mind but it’s formulation has stalled. I think the ink in my pen is blocked. 🙂 I’ll be with you as soon as my muse works out the kinks.

  9. September 8, 2013 7:53 am

    Hi Nicole. It is so nice to see you here. I have to give this some thought, as I don’t want to go back to the “Marlene” saga.


    • September 9, 2013 10:43 am

      I totally understand. I think Aanteekwa needs to have her story percolate a bit before I have another go at writing about her again. Data, however, seemed so attractive this time around.

  10. September 8, 2013 3:12 pm

    Sorry for the delay, Nicole. Here’s mine!

    • September 12, 2013 6:44 am

      No problem. The whole point is to have fun, let the creativity happen, and write. I love how your story starts.

  11. September 9, 2013 7:19 am

    i really enjoyed this prompt!

    here is my poem:

  12. September 9, 2013 2:52 pm

    I’ve been a tad distracted by family. But I think I am going to enjoy playing with this set of prompts. For the first of the four parts:

    • September 12, 2013 6:45 am

      Hey, I’ve been distracted by a ton of things in my life right now. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this kitty’s adventure.

  13. September 10, 2013 10:52 am

    Nice to see all these writers with their stories ready to read! I started a new adventure with some of the same characters from my old story. Here is part I and II. Hopefully I can take it up to part X1 by the end of the month.

    • September 12, 2013 6:53 am

      You know how to make someone’s heart break, Marian — this lady is going through even more adversity. But, as they say, “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

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