Writing Exercise 22.1

If you missed my previous post, please check out my conversation with Rosemary Royston where Rosemary talked about the process that inspired the poems in her poetry collection, Second Sight. She also talked about how writers should think about writing about traumatic events, and some revision tricks to make poetry sound and feel less prosaic. The poems in Second Sight combine folk traditions, superstitions, sixth sense, and the powers of suggestion and intention. Now, I’m sharing a writing exercise that Rosemary shared with me. Before you start, read Rosemary’s “Appalachian Ghazal” online at the museum of americana, and “Rumex acetosella” online at Split Rock Review.

Writing Exercise 22.1: I challenge readers to do some quick research on a superstition, belief, colloquialism, or a nagging question they’ve had, and to take what they find and turn it into a poem (or an essay or a scene for a short story or a novel chapter). It can be a narrative or list poem or even a lyric! Whatever comes out, but be sure to pay close attention to sound, imagery, and diction.

I love prompts like this one that involve a little research. For this one, I suggest writing into any superstition or belief that you already hold, but if you need more help to get started, check out ScaryMommy.com’s list of common superstitions, or Good Housekeeping’s list of 55 of the Strangest Superstitions From Around the World.

Rosemary Royston, author of Second Sight

I’m so grateful for the time and energy Rosemary took to talk about her writing and to offer this prompt. Please buy Rosemary’s book, Second Sight, available through Kelsay Press and Amazon), and give her a follow for regular updates at her blog “The Luxury of Trees.”

Rosemary is also teaching at two upcoming events, both of which I highly recommend:

February 5, 2022Poetry Workshop, Mildred Haun Conference, Walters State Community College. Rosemary says, “In this poetry workshop, I’m addressing the overall theme of the conference: Coming or Staying Home: the Appalachian Dilemma, by focusing on places/emotions/relationships/etc. that we wrestle leaving or staying with. So the workshop will be both place-based and universal.”

May 8-14, 2022 Creative Writing across the Genres, John C. Campbell Folk School. Rosemary says, “In this week-long class at the wonderful John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, participants will read, write, and discuss poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction. It is always lovely to be at the Folk School.”

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