Notebooking Daily University: Poetic Explorations 'Memory' 6-Class Course


Welcome to Notebooking Daily's first ever self-paced poetry writing class, Poetic Explorations. This is a 'six-week class' done on your own time, at your own pace, and it will be much more open-ended than a standard class because everyone's different, and not everyone has time constraints yadda yadda. I will have more detailed courses this coming year, but this is a bit of a Christmas present to interested poets of a few communities especially.

What type of class is this? This class is heavily reading and prompt based, and self-driven, so it can be repeated multiple times as a generative/research project. You will read a wide variety of poetry driven by your preferences, you will create and generate potential source material in your 'poet's notebook', you will write 3 prompt poems, 1 highly-scaffolded poem which will be built over the duration of the course, and another somewhat-scaffolded poem which also will be built over the class's duration. And if you're able to get the book, you'll have 2 additional poems, one of which will have undergone a thorough editing process. This class focuses mainly around the theme of 'Memory' but there is a bit of intro to poetry stuff and an introduction to literary magazines as well, which is where you'll ideally be publishing your poetry some day.

Who is this for? Beginning poets as well as experienced poets. 

Class Book List (I have no Amazon affiliation or anything): "In the Palm of Your Hand" edited by Steve Kowit. I can't recommend this book enough for poets at all levels, but if you absolutely can't afford to buy a used copy for $5.50 with shipping included (and it's definitely worth it, even though we'll only be using a couple chapters in this short term class) I highly recommend reading/writing prompts for the rest of the book to further your 'class' experience. The rest of class reading materials will be free online and if you can't get the book, that should still be a good experience.

What is a Writer's Notebook? A place where you jot down interesting facts, bits of dialogue, ideas, fragments/snippets that come to you, as well as thoughts on poems you're reading and things you might do which are similar. This can be a physical notebook, or a google doc file. I recommend Google Docs over notepad or a similar notes type app because Docs has that cloud backup in case your device dies. Backing this up is also a good idea every so often, you can do that by emailing it to yourself. When doing the Notebooking activities, you should write which day you're doing at the top of the entry for easy referencing as you'll be going back to previous entries for brainstorming and writing activities.

Where should I do my brainstorming activities? I recommend in a Google Doc file. Here is a template you can use. If you prefer to handwrite, it will require some typing later, but that has its benefits if time isn't an issue.

How long should I dedicate to each activity? As long as it takes for the reading and notebooking activities, the brainstorming activities should each be 5-minute timers (per list) and the writing activities should take around 20-30 minutes. The idea is the class should take roughly 2.5 to 3 hours with close reading and the writing activities, but the good thing about self-paced classes like this is, you take as long as you like. If you want to read more poems than I 'require', heck yeah! If you want to read multiple poets' work, that's even better. If you have a ton of things happen in the previous day you want for your 'notebooking', or lots to say about pieces you read, or you get started on a poem and it takes off and you need four more hours to make a truly magnificent poem in one-go? I've been there, do it!

How do I write a poem in 30 minutes? First—you do you. Take extra time for the main part of writing if you'd like, spend an hour revising immediately after, I know I do sometimes. But, for the 'method', I suggest this breakdown for timers for the writing activities: 5 minutes for organizing and outlining, getting a rough idea of how you might meet the requirements, and where you might end up whether that's a message, observation, 'point' or it's just the order of requirements/major parts of the poem. Sometimes you'll be discovering almost everything, but it helps to have a target so even if you are figuring everything out as you go, you have a safe landing pad if you feel lost or like you're not making any progress. After the rough brainstorming/organizing/outlining, spend 20 minutes writing the poem. Don't feel locked into that outline/organization, but it can take the pressure of 'what next' off and allow you to feel freer in you initial discovery/exploration of the idea/narrative. Then the final 5 minutes you'll use to wrap up/land the poem, and read it over looking to see if there's anything that needs revising, tightening, or cutting if it doesn't line up with where the poem ended up going. If you're making major cuts, I recommend copy/pasting the original onto a page below the edit in progress in case you change your mind. You can lose what is the soul of a poem in a whim decision during editing, saving progress drafts helps you find the right version of the poem often.

Why only six classes? This is a 'lite' class meant to be accessible and repeatable. And it's free so if you like these classes, keep an eye out for our workshops and content classes in the new year. 

Can I repeat the course? Of course! I'll be editing in instructions for how to do that and get a totally/mostly unique experience in the coming days.

Why is this free? I wanted to give a little Christmas gift to a few communities and I'd planned on classes last year but ran out of time. I'm dedicated to getting a few together like this, but more detailed and longer with discord for interaction, some even with live workshopping. If you appreciate this class and would like to donate, I always dedicate all donations to Notebooking Daily to submission fees, getting every penny to a lit mag or press as I'm really trying to get some collections published and those fees add up. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated, however, this is free, there is no obligation to make a donation at all. I know what it's like to live off potatoes and chili and ramen, even outside of college. Times can be tough. If you're in a position to, and you really enjoyed the class, feel free to Say thanks with a donation of any amount.

So, without further yackin', LETSGO!


Daily Prompt 10: Three Things #3

 Daily Prompt 10: Three Things #3

For today's piece, write a poem or piece of prose which includes the following 3 things: The Mississippi River, A Falcon and A Shovel.

You can use these things in any way that you'd like, but try to make them at least kinda important to the piece and not just used in a throwaway fashion like seeing a picture of a falcon on a shovel sticking out of the roaring Mississippi River and thinking, that's weird, then going on a completely unrelated adventure.


Daily Prompt 9: Memory Object #1

 Daily Prompt 9: Memory Object #1

For today's piece, write a poem or piece of prose which is very much centered on one object  which is presented in your speaker's past/memory. That object which the character has a memory of is... A Rubber Duck bath toy

You might have a character see the object and have a specific memory about it, the memory might come inexplicably, maybe someone else will bring it up or be reminiscing about the past when the memory comes. Be sure to use sensory details, and to be specific! 


Daily Prompt 8: Title Mania #1

 Daily Prompt 8: Title Mania #1

For today's piece, write a poem or piece of prose which uses one of the following four possible titles:

1) The Unmovable Rock
2) Along the Dirt Trail
3) Can of Worms
4) Froth isn't the Right Word, But it's Close

That's it. Make the title make sense for the piece, use it as inspiration for either the piece's inciting incident, its resolution, or something vital to the piece so that it justifies being the title, but the rest is up to you.


Daily Prompt 7: Three Things #2

 Daily Prompt 7: Three Things #2

For today's piece, write a poem or piece of prose which includes the following 3 things: Sunday, A Hammer and A Pecan Pie.

You can use these things in any way that you'd like, but try to make them at least kinda important to the piece and not just used in a throwaway fashion like eating a piece of pie on Sunday with a hammer on the counter and thinking, that's weird, then going on a completely unrelated adventure.


Daily Prompt 6: Three Things #1

Daily Prompt 6: Three Things #1

For today's piece, write a poem or piece of prose which includes the following 3 things: An Elephant, A Cardboard Box and A Scarf.

You can use these things in any way that you'd like, but try to make them at least kinda important to the piece and not just used in a throwaway fashion like seeing a picture of an elephant wearing a scarf standing in a cardboard box and thinking, that's weird, then going on a completely unrelated adventure.


Daily Prompt 5: Fallen from a Tree

Daily Prompt 5: Fallen from a Tree

For today's piece, write a poem or piece of prose which revolves around something falling out of a tree. This could be the narrator/a character, it could be a branch or 'widow maker' limb, fruit (ala Isaac Newton's apple maybe?) a poorly constructed treehouse, a crashed ultralight airplane (or drone or kite or stuck football/frisbee). Remember to include some sort of insight/observation/point.


Daily Prompt 4: Late for work

Daily Prompt 4: Late for work

For today's piece, write a poem or piece of prose which uses the narrative of the speaker/main character being late for work. Be sure to give the lateness some gravitas (are they worried they'll be fired, lose a promotion, are they opening a restaurant/store by themselves? Lots of options for making it more than just a 'sorry I'm late' 'no problem' interaction). You can make it as much focused on the person being late for work as you want, perhaps what happens while they're rushing to get ready, or to drive/bike/transit to their job that is what is interesting. Decide before you start writing if you want the 'takeaway' or 'point' to be positive or negative. 


Daily Prompt 3: Flat Bike Tire

 Daily Prompt 3: Flat Bike Tire

For today's piece, write a poem or piece of prose which centers on a flat bike tire. It could happen mid-journey, it could be a metaphor for lost opportunities or it could be whatever you want. But grab onto the idea of a what a flat bike tire could stop, cause, represent etc. Go for it!


Daily Prompt 2: Three Things 1

 New Series, new set of numbers. I have tons of Three Things Prompts on the blog, and the concept is simple, take the following 3 things, and write a piece which makes them integral to the narrative or meaning of the poem. 

My best tip: Find a solid connection or way you can connect two of the things, develop that a little in your brain, then find a place that the third object might intersect with that original connection. Think of it like the first connection is a line between the two words. The third word will connect somewhere along that line of narrative or development of idea, making a shape kinda like an F without the top horizontal line. Then your job is to turn that set of perpendicular lines into a triangle by connecting the new 'thing' to each individual thing at the beginning or the end of the piece so it helps either the setup or the payoff (or both)

Three Things:

A Basketball
A Pond


Daily Prompt 1: Four Steps Blue

 For today's prompt, you will eventually write a piece of poetry or prose which includes at least five things (objects, places, people, animals) that are traditionally blue, but we're going to do this in steps. 

Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash

Step One: Before you get really started, think of either a basic plot, or an observation or 'point' you can make in your poem. Don't write anything down, just get something rough quickly, something basic which you'll build on. write it down in just 1-2 sentences. Don't spend too much time on this, but as you're completing the other tasks be thinking about how you can extend that plot or build toward your observation.

Step Two: Brainstorm a list of 5-10 things which are blue. Once you have your list, look over this list and add on at least 3 more to your list of blue things.

Step Three: Now write three sets of three similes which use three of those things from your list. Avoid the easy, write similes which are strange or surprising. Maybe even nonsensical or silly (maybe do a couple extra if you're leaning absurd). Keep in mind your basic premise or observation, but don't seek to connect things yet.

Step Four: Now you've thought about your concept, you have some potential similes, you have a list of many objects, animals or places you can use, it's time to write  your piece. Use at least two of your similes in your final piece of writing.


Signs of life

School life is rough. It's exhausting. I can see a pathway to it being less exhausting, but that means investing less time into teach, less effort, less of a f*ck. But it's really hard for me to stop. This means my means and my modes will shift. But I can't stop myself from giving as much of my time and effort to boosting the young/unexperienced voices around me. When I see people yearning more, I want to help. Because I'm in their same position. I need more. I doubt I'll ever know the classics nearly as well as any of my Masters' advisors, but I know factually that I know more/different things about getting by. About hardscrabble, about just enough. But forget this ranting.

New writing prompts coming soon! Maybe not daily, not in the same variety and intensity, but I'm coming back. I'll get a template for the summer. I can't stress this enough. Demystify writing. It is a skill. It is something that is discernible. I've read so many AI written essays and it's heartbreaking. I mean, I get, students, especially in high school, want to take the path of least resistance, but that might lead to a lack of understanding of rhetoric which leads to Andrew Tate and his tater tots. To the furthering of bad, and bad-faith arguments. 

But, prompts, and soon. And a prompt book I hope.