Prompt 206 Which childhood?
The one from which you’ll never escape?
–Li-Young Lee, “A Hymn to Childhood”
In our adult life, writing as poets, do we find ourselves returning to childhood as a kind of base for who we are, how we’ve become? In your imagination, who was this child? Why is childhood significant? What is the nature of childhood? Is it somehow a frozen place, a place of fixed identity? How do your experiences in childhood shape who you are? One way of writing about childhood is to draw on the memory of an experience.
In Sharon Olds’s poem, “Killing My Sister’s Fish”, the narrator describes the steps taken prior to poisoning her sister’s goldfish and when the deed was done, she was just lying there, “as if without/regret, as if something set in motion/long before I had been conceived/had been accomplished”. The speaker seems to be referring to some sort of karmic destiny. It can even be said that it raises the question of our a priori nature. What is it that our DNA carries, that carries this piece of history? In accounting terms, it is the balance carried over.
Is childhood really a clean slate? Or does it carry imprints of our past?
So write a childhood poem with a twist and let it deal with karma, déjà vu or the sixth sense.
Announcement: As you know, April is National Poetry Month and most of you, I hope, will be all wrapped up in the writing. Somehow it doesn’t seem daunting even if it is. Or it’s daunting only if you let it be. They do get better with more writing. The poems I mean. Even if you have to drown in really bad ones while you’re at it. Of course there’re poets who can’t write a bad poem. But I’m not one of them. I post up every one of my drafts. I’m not much of a revisionist either. Is that why I don’t go from good to better? Or best? Is there always a good, better, best version of poems? There must be. I still haven’t got sufficient insight to figure it out yet. My method is really to keep writing new poems and hope for a kind of consistency.
I forget what I meant to say. And it is that We Write Poems will go full throttle in April. By full throttle it means Thursday’s regular prompt, and Monday’s wordle prompt. Then come May, we will no longer ramp it up. Sorry if you haven’t found the pace leisurely, to your liking. Like slow food or something. So as I was saying, from May we’ll post weekly prompts on Thursday, alternating regular and wordle prompts. Slow food…