Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Poetry to Prepare for Thanksgiving

A week from today, some of us will begin preparing the Thanksgiving meal, even though it will only be Wednesday.  It's good to get a head start, so that you don't have as much to do on the big day.  Some of us have already started. 

I have not done any holiday cooking or baking.  It's been too hot, and it doesn't seem worth the effort.

Do holidays affect your writing?  I mean the subject matter, not whether or not you have time to write.

I've often wondered if a book of poems organized by the calendar year would be appealing.  I love books of essays and memoirs that are organized that way, and I'm using the calendar and liturgical year (often in sync) to organize my memoir.  But I've never sat down to play with my poems in a similar way.

As a reader, the organization would please me.  I worry that it would seem simplistic to those people who evaluate poetry manuscripts.

But I digress.  Today I want to encourage us to begin our Thanksgiving festivities by returning to poetry.  On Thanksgiving, I'll have a post about additional creative activities we might have fun trying.  That post will have prompts too.

Here's a prompt for poetry writing today.  Imagine you could invite your favorite literary characters or historical figures to your Thanksgiving table.  What would they talk about?

Imagine it's a potluck dinner.  What will they bring?

I first began playing with this idea when I thought about what it would be like to invite John the Baptist to a potluck dinner.  Out came this stanza:

John the Baptist made a main
dish out of locusts, an old family
recipe. We expected to hate
it, yet it had a surprisingly
pleasant texture, sweetened
with honey but not cloying,
the sugar tempered
with strange spices.

I continued with this idea.  What would Jesus bring?  Eventually I settled on this stanza, although I could play with this idea across multiple poems (and I might!):

Jesus fed us parable
muffins, full of figs and grains
and some seasoning we couldn’t
quite name.

And Lazarus, returned from the dead?  Would he have heavenly secrets?  I wrote this stanza:

During his time on the other side,
Lazarus learned the secrets
of flaky pie crust,
so a comforter of pastry encased
everything he brought:
a lamb pie, an onion tart,
fruits in a cream sauce.

I continued until I couldn't come up with any other Biblical figures who might cook.  Eventually I realized I needed a way to finish, a way out of the poem.

It must have been near Thanksgiving when I composed the final stanza:

The next day we discovered the delight
of a feast day devoted to gratitude,
enough leftovers for a whole week-end,
the lingering glow of community.

For me, that last stanza sums up Thanksgiving in 4 lines, and it tells the world why I so love and appreciate this holiday.

Now it's your turn.  And if you're not a poet, this prompt might lead you to interesting fiction plot points.  See what happens.  Let your creativity nourish you so that you're prepared for the whirlwind that will be headed our way in a week.

1 comment:

rbarenblat said...

These are lovely stanzas. Thank you for sharing them!