Saturday, April 18, 2015

Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 18, 2015

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

About today's writing prompt genre: Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.

Today's artwork is...

The poem "Explaining a Few Things" by Charles Simic from his collection A Wedding in Hell as well as his National Book Finalist collection  The Voice at 3:00 A.M. Selected and Late Poems. Charles Simic won the Pulitzer Prize for his collection The World Doesn't End, and a professor emeritus at The University of New Hampshire. Although many classify him as a surrealist poet, when asked about his surrealism by Cortland Review editor J.M. Spalding he responded: "I'm a hard-nosed realist. Surrealism means nothing in a country like ours where supposedly millions of Americans took joyrides in UFOs. Our cities are full of homeless and mad people going around talking to themselves. Not many people seem to notice them. I watch them and eavesdrop on them."

Explaining a Few Things

Every worm is a martyr,
Every sparrow subject to injustice,
I said to my cat,
Since there was no one else around.

It's raining. In spite of their huge armies
What can ants do?
And the roach on the wall
Like a waiter in an empty restaurant?

I'm going down to the cellar
To stroke the rat caught in a trap.
You watch the sky.
If it clears, scratch on the door.


However you are inspired by this poem, go for it. Whether it's the form of quatrains, the title (which is reminiscent of Pablo Neruda's "I'm Explaining a Few Things" which is a very powerful war poem about the Spanish civil war. It could be the idea of addressing your pet because no one else is around. It could use the idea of petting a trapped pest, or questioning what purpose insects can have, or what they can do against the grand forces of the world, as Simic does wondering what ants can do to defend against the rain. Maybe you were intrigued by the first line, and want to adapt that to "Every ______ is a martyr" and build from that. Or perhaps you were intrigued by the tone of the poem and want to adopt it for your piece. Have a wonderful time!


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