2021 Writing Exercise Series #120: Inspired By 9... "Violent Epidemic"

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 9... "Violent Epidemic"

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 "Violent Epidemic" by the poet Sarah Degner Riveros. This poem was published on December 4, 2020 on Barnstorm Journal's blog.

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 touching poem about the childhood trauma and community, encapsulated in a short narrative where a neighbor boy seeks refuge when his caretaking sisters got into a fight. The neighbor reacts motherly and immediately takes him in and begins cooking the boy some breakfast food and gives him tea even though his friend (or even perhaps just the friendly adult neighbor that the boy is familiar with) is not there at that time. This poem presents a simple narrative in short lines but through carefully chosen details and moves it covers a great deal of ground. Okay, now that you've ACTUALLY READ the poem, let's write something.

1. Object: Write a piece in which a pillow is vital to the piece.
2. Titles: Write a piece using one of the following titles selected from the piece:
1) Flannel Pillow 2) Sweat Pants and a T-Shirt 3) Chamomile Tea, No Sugar 4) On A Bike Ride 5) Hash Browns in Butter, Eggs Over Easy 
3. FormPoetry—Write a poem that uses short lines (similar to this piece, no more than five words) which tells a short narrative with two characters where only one character does almost all of the speaking. Fiction—write a flash or micro prose piece in which a neighbor seeks refuge with another neighbor—whether or not that works out as well for your characters as this does for the boy is up to you.
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. It's rare that you'll be able to use all of the words in a new order without some superflousness or awkward phrasing.
5. Beginning Middle & End: Using the same 'things' from the piece's beginning/middle/end. For today begin your piece with a Pillow, in the middle there must be the appearance of A Sink, and in the end we must get Eggs. However you get from one to the other, make it your own.


If you'd like some unobtrusive background music try this "Coffee Rain" mix from Cafe Music.