Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise April 22, 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 "The Lost Thing" by Stephen Dunn. This poem is from Dunn's collection Everything Else in the World, (as of now there are two used copies available for under ten cents) though the poem was first published in the Gettysburg Review and subsequently in The Common Line Journal online. I've long been a fan of Stephen Dunn's straightforward, usually short poems. As Poetry Foundation describes his work:

"Dunn’s poetry reflects the social, cultural, psychological, and philosophical territory of the American middle class; his intelligent, lyrical poems narrate the regular episodes of an everyman speaker’s growth... His poetry is concerned with the anxieties, fears, joys, and problems of how to co-exist in the world with all those who are part of our daily lives. "

The Lost Thing

The truth is
it never belonged to anybody.
It's not a music box or a locket;
it doesn't bear our initials.
It has none of the tragic glamour
of a lost child, won't be found
on any front page. It's like
the river that confuses
search dogs, like the promise
on the far side of the ellipsis.
Look for it in the margins,
is the conventional wisdom.
Look for it as late afternoon light
drips below the horizon.
But it's not to be seen.
Nor does it have a heart
or give off any signal.
It's as if . . . is how some of us
keep trying to reach it.
Once, long ago, I felt sure
I was in its vicinity.


Whether you are struck by the idea of that unnamed thing that cannot be found or quite recalled, a line from the poem (or perhaps you wish to take the title "The Lost Thing" as your own for a new piece), an image from the poem, or the melancholic tone of its ending, that feeling of once being so close to... to something ethereal, to something great, wonderful, life-changing... whatever it is that strikes you about this poem, run with it. We'll get back to non-poetry ekphrastic exercises once National Poetry Month is over, but for now, even if you're writing prose, just bear with me and read some sweet poems. :)