2021 Writing Exercise Series #11: Inspired By... "Bumbershoot" 1


The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

Inspired By... "Bumbershoot" 1

For today's writing exercise you will first read a short piece of writing, and then respond using one of the following prompts. 

Today's inspiring piece of writing is the poem "Bumbershoot" by the awesome poet Annie Stenzel who diligent Notebookers will be well familiar with by now. This poem was published in July of 2020 at the journal The Hellebore (A refuge for literary and artistic expression).

Seriously. Go read it. I'll wait.

I mean it, jumping right to the prompts will be borderline pointless as they won't have context. It's a 2 minute read, you got this.

One of the things I love about this poem is that it hits some heavy topics without feeling like it's ever getting heavy. It is poetic without being consciously 'poemy'. It is relatable but it is very much this poet's poem, not relatable because it is summary, generic or soft focus. Great stuff. Okay, now that you've ACTUALLY READ the poem, let's write something.

1. Object: Write a piece that describes something everyday/useful that you've held onto for a long time. Something you might have lost by now. This doesn't have to be nonfiction, but write in the first person and tell us about the thing's unlikely journey to remain by (or return to) your side.
2. Titles: Write a piece using one of the following titles selected from the piece:
1) Dilapidated, but Still Capable 2) Dripping Wet 3) Iffy 4) In Monsoon Season 5) Strange Materials 
3. Form: Write a piece of very tightly crafted prose poetry with the right margin dragged in to 5 inches. I pulled the poem into word and for Times New Roman size 12 font (what you should ALL be using as a standard) that's what Stenzel used. For bonus guidance try to make the piece as close to 350 words as possible.
4. Wordbank: A cross between a cento and an erasure, you can think of this as being like magnetic poetry on a refrigerator. Copy the text from the poem and paste it into a word document. Create a new piece using only words from that 'bank', when you use a word, highlight it in the bank and either 'strikethrough' or add a black background so you don't use a word twice.
5. Beginning Middle & End: Using the same 'things' from the piece's beginning/middle/end. For today begin your piece with an umbrella, in the middle there must be the appearance of a duck and in the end we must get a library, however you get from one to the other, make it your own.


If you'd like some unobtrusive background music try this "Shades of Orange" folk guitar instrumental mix.