Write in a new place – 31p31d

This is day 4 of 31 poems in 31 days.

Poetry of Place

Bowling for Poets
Bowling for Poets

Now that we have moved from personal poems into poems about the world around us, it is time to explore poetry of place. Poets have memorialized places in verse for about as long as there have been poems. In a place poem, the poet attempts to capture the spirit of a particular place, and perhaps use that place to reflect upon either the events in their life or the events that have taken place at that location.

Things to remember when writing a poem about a place:

  • The more vividly and distinctly you describe the place you are writing about, the easier it will be to draw your reader into any other themes that you have in mind.
  • Themes that arise out of the description will be the most likely to take root. Look for details that blend well with your thoughts.
  • The more meaningful a place is to you, the more likely it is that you will write about it with passion.
  • Sometimes it is more interesting to look for a location you don’t know so well and imagine a history for it.
  • You are a poet, not a reporter. Don’t feel as if can’t change details. Just be aware that if someone with knowledge of the place reads it and catches the differences, it might annoy them. Barbara Kingsolver writes books that are set in my hometown of Tucson, but she often makes up details. This can sometimes take me out of her stories.
  • When you can, it is a good idea to actually be at the location you are writing about when you write about it. Plenty of poems have been written after the fact, however. Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey was written five years later, and it may be the most famous place poem in all of literature.

Today’s Poetry Assignment

Get out of the house and write in a new place. Write about the place you choose to go to. Don’t just rely on what you see. Describe the smells, the tastes and the sounds if you can. Try to give your readers a full picture of the place you choose.

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  • Tiny stones on granite

    Atop the ebon granite
    sit small stones
    fresh picked from
    paths through the
    fresh mowed grass
    small stones as tiny
    sentinels stand atop
    the incomprehensibility
    of your name – your name
    in black granite – cut in large block letters

    • Wow I like how you went from small to large in thought and impact

    • Leigh Spencer

      This is subtle and really beautiful, Pearl.

      We went to a military cemetery recently and I put stones on all the Jewish graves.

  • Leigh Spencer

    Hilltop Cemetery – Alma, New Mexico

    We saw the road sign
    rusted metal, painted white

    The words
    “ALMA CEMETERY”
    stenciled cutouts
    with a metal arrow pointing up

    He knew
    his morbid bride would want to see

    Gravel crunched as the car climbed
    higher and higher
    on the dusty dirt road

    My heart sank
    when I spied the rusty fence gate

    Soared to discover
    there was no lock

    He waited in the car
    content with my content

    Gifted me Alma

    There was wind that day
    enough to rustle the waist high, dried grass

    Shhh shhh shhh sounds
    words I could almost make out

    Comforting whispers
    my companions as I knelt to clear the grass
    to read the markers

    Some flat and moss-covered
    I worked my hands across weathered stone
    gentle braille
    coaxing history into my fingertips

    Alice DePriest Roberts, interred with infant sons
    August 10, 1898

    She was 23 years old
    became a mother
    briefly
    before coming here
    to hold her boys eternally

    I think of the play “Our Town”
    drop a tear for each of them
    more than a century later
    and wonder if she knows

    You can see the whole small town from here
    just me
    my husband waiting in the car
    and the otherworldly grasshoppers
    neon orange, green, black stripes
    a welcome contrast of color in the bland
    green brown grey day

    Dragonflies transport souls, they say

    Maybe grasshoppers remind us life goes on
    even here

    He brought me to
    Alma

    Brought me closer
    to my own soul

    I can’t escape the feeling
    that someday
    she will return

  • poewar

    The Chandler Radisson

    I’ve stayed in this room before
    Room 245
    Last in the line
    Across the hall from the elevator
    But surprisingly quiet

    I have an excellent view of the off ramp
    Tail lights flip by under yellow street lamps
    When trucks pass the hotel rumbles
    But otherwise it’s quiet
    Except for the fan from the air conditioner

    My own car sits against the ramp
    I picture an out of control semi
    Flipping over the wall and crashing into my Fit
    In a spectacular slow motion CGI pancaking

    From my work desk I can watch the guests walk up
    Sometimes we lock eyes
    Which is an amusingly disturbing
    Way to pass time

    Only two hours until I can go to bed
    And hope to make it to morning
    I’ll leave the curtains open
    Just in case that truck makes it over the ramp