July 1, 2019

Monday, July 1

Writers who develop an ear for poetic rhyme and meter cultivate a sense of rhythm that is enormously helpful in good writing. Poets who wrote fiction, from the poet-playwright William Shakespeare to the poet-turned-fiction writer Michael Ondaajte (“The English Patient”) and now Ocean Vuong, a young, acclaimed poet who has written a stunning new novel, “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” have mastered poetry to write prose. (factoid: Ocean Vuong graduated from Glastonbury High School; thanks to Chris at River Bend Bookshop for this information.) There’s an interesting story about him in the Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/06/going-home-ocean-vuong-on-earth-were-briefly-gorgeous/590938/

filled with the struggles of a gay Asian teenager at Glastonbury High; for those of you from Glastonbury, these lines are distressing, heart-wrenching and too familiar. There are lessons to be learned from this piece.

One of them is Vuong’s insistence that poetry gives us a strong recipe for good writing – any writing. “If I had my way, I’d recommend the earnest pursuit of poetry for every writer,” Vuong says. 

So this week, for a prompt, I am asking you to write a poem. Don’t worry about iambic pentameter or tetrameter or any other meter; just write a poem. Next week we’ll talk about sonnets; there’s math involved! But this week, take a whirl at writing a poem. 

Think about rhythm. Think about sound. Think about music. Cadence. Economy of words – one word can change an entire line in a poem. Write, rearrange, revise.

Next Monday, read your poem aloud to yourself – or anyone who will listen. If you are a Candlelighter or about to be, send it along to me. I’d be delighted to read it.

And of course, have fun with this!