September 12th, 2020

The Annotation & A Prompt:

Poem A Day in September continues, at least for my little Twitter writing group, and it has taken me to some delicious depths. I always put a prompt inside the group in case someone is of need. No one is required to do it, but it makes me feel free from some of the pressure of writing a poem and feeling on the spot for the ever essential idea. I always post them at midnight, and I started my own poem based on this one then and got so into I was up until 3 am finishing it out.

Here was the prompt:

This prompt is from Charles Bernstein’s list of writing experiments.

So the prompt was to write an alphabet poem or a poem that has a word that begins with every letter of the alphabet. Last night, before my nightly prompt offering was due, I discovered this list of great prompts in a link by Isabel Rae McKenzie, the writer/artist/creative behind Daybreaking Zine. When I saw the alphabet prompt, it appealed to my love of vocabulary and word games, so I started drinking a vanilla Coke and gave into the caffeine and chaos of a good late night write.

The poem I published above is a part of my Gilarium project which you can check out more about at Gilda Sheen’s (the main character’s) instagram. In this poem, Gilda is using her iPad in its fancy waterproof case sixteen feet underwater to write sonnets. Since she has gills, she can do this without any trouble, but it occurs to her she is certainly the only being on the planet earth doing this very thing at this very moment. It’s a part of her overarching theme of loneliness that the teenager feels, trapped in the mansion of a zillionaire in a series fo interconnected tanks.

I managed to use a word from every letter of the alphabet — though not in order. One of the participants in my group did it that way, Grace Alive Evans and I offer a link to hers here as an example of another even more challenging approach. It’s a challenge either way, and I found myself learning new words (xeric) which is a favorite pastime of mine — even at 3 am.

One of my favorite compliments I get on my writing is when someone will say I learn a new word in most of your poems. To some people, I have heard that is off-putting (that they must look something up), but I just don’t relate to that way of thinking. I love poems with simple, plain words, too, and I even write many of those, too. I don’t think a vast vocabulary can take the place of emotion. But I love a poem that teaches my brain and heart something, so when someone tells me that I have done that for them — wow. That’s an achievement of which I’m very proud.

So if your pandemic brains needs a distraction today — a little exercise in vocabulary expansion and fun, feel free to take the alphabet poem prompt. You can even share it to me on Twitter @lolaandjolie.