2021 Writing Exercise Series #93: Inspired By 7... "Hello..."

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 7... "Hello..."

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 powerful poem "HELLO, MY PARENTS DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH WELL, HOW CAN I HELP YOU?" by the poet Su Cho. This poem was published in the seventeenth issue of the journal Four Way Review.

Seriously. Go read it. It's short. 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.

This is lovely and sad poem about growing up with parents that don't speak English (while the poem does not explicitly state that the mother is an immigrant, one can assume their mother didn't grow up in the US and only know 'that practiced phrase'. The narrator looks back on the way they acted as a child as many of us are wont to do, feeling the weight of regret and nostalgia mixing together in memory. Of hoping as an adult, to have learned from experience—to be better with that perspective. And, you know, it's a formal poem too, in a way—I think abecedarians are formal. The language is accessible and the narrative moves fluidly. Okay, now that you've ACTUALLY READ the poem, let's write something.

1. Object: Write a piece in which the narrator eats rice (or specifically sesame rice balls).
2. Titles: Write a piece using one of the following titles selected from the piece:
1) The Census 2) Wildly 3) I Called Her Stupid 4) The Practiced Phrase 5) The Truth Is 6) Some Accountability 
3. FormPoetry—Write an abecedarian. Start each line of your poem with a subsequent letter of the alphabet as this poem does. Fiction—write a flash fiction that begins either each sentence or each paragraph with a subsequent letter for a fiction version of the abecedarian.
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. You'll likely have some words left over but that's ok.
5. Beginning Middle & End: Using the same 'things' from the piece's beginning/middle/end. For today begin your piece with a Phone Call, in the middle there must be the appearance of A Field Trip, and in the end we must get Rice. However you get from one to the other, make it your own.


If you'd like some unobtrusive background music try the lofi mix "3AM Study Session".