Up today, a writing assignment to keep you limber, courtesy of Martha Collins.
This assignment is an attempt to help you do what interviewer Beth Rogers just asked me about: to create “a fusion of the personal and the historical.” What you write down in response to #’s 1-5 is not intended to be a poem, or even the beginning of a poem: it’s just notes. So write quickly, without thinking too hard; when you’re finished, you can go back and think further about the questions and answers.
1. Write down the names of all the places where you’ve lived a significant part of your life, beginning with where you were born. Leave some white space between them.
2. Now write down, for each place, (a) something of historical significance that happened there, and (b) the name of one or more historical or living persons who have achieved a certain amount of fame or attention, even if only on a local level.
3. Now do the same for your mother, beginning with where she was born.
4. Now do the same for your father.
5. Now ponder your notes (1-4) until something begins to make you want to know more. Write down as much as you know that’s relevant to what you’re wondering about—and then go to the library and/or internet and see what else you can find.
Your notes should be getting longer. When something begins to echo not just as fact but as language, you may be ready to start writing a poem, even if your research is incomplete.