Thursday, November 8, 2012

Politics Poetry Prompts

In the months leading up to the election, my friends in less divided states or states that weren't important in terms of the Electoral College told me how lucky I was to live in Florida where my vote would really make  a difference.

Ha!  While I do think my vote has been counted, it has not been lost on me that our state's votes didn't actually help choose the President.  Yep, we're still counting absentee ballots down here, while the election has already been determined.

We had an incident in Miami-Dade county on Sunday where various political "leaders" were making decisions at cross purposes.  Yes, we'd expand early voting, but we wouldn't tell the police so there wasn't parking available and people who voted got parking tickets or had their cars towed.  The mayor shut down the process, and some other official reopened it.

My Jacksonville friend said, "What are you people doing down there?"

I said, "It's typical Miami.  It's a 3rd world country down here.  It's a wonder no one got shot."

Seems there should be a poem in there somewhere.  I also noticed how many of my friends and colleagues had loved ones die on Election Day.  And of course, so close to Halloween and the feasts of All Saints and All Souls--again, I see some poetic connections.

My favorite poem of this political year comes from January O'Neil.  In this post, she gives us "You Bring Out the Mitt Romney in Me."  It's inspired by  "You Bring Out the Mexican in Me" by Sandra Cisneros and "You Bring Out the Boring White Guy in Me" by Jim Daniels (poems and links at this post).

On Election Day morning, I realized it had been several weeks since I had written a poem, and her post inspired me.  I thought about other candidates, but what tumbled out was "You Bring Out the Monk in Me."  As I was writing it, it seemed like it might turn out to be one of the more insipid list poems I'd ever written.  But I kept going, and it took surprising turns, and I think it might end up being a love poem.

I like these poems not only because they're interesting poems and great examples of the list poem.  It's also a great way to explore our prejudices.  If I was teaching a poetry class, I'd include a module on the list poem.  I'd start with simple ideas, and end with these examples.  I'd encourage students to use their lists to explore deeper topics.

I wonder how this exercise might work in a Composition classroom.  Could students make lists of prejudices and stereotypes and then explore them both in a poem and in an expository essay?  I think they could.  And of course, there are some seeds for a researched essay in there too.

Maybe you're ready for a non-political prompt.  Here's a list poem that may take you in a different direction:  spiritual, captivity narrative, which will you choose?

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