This is the first draft of piece of prose that hasn’t yet found it’s form. It’s just observations for a morning walk filed away in a document file. I ask myself in this series of blog posts: What can be done to turn it from prose to poetry?
DRAFT 1 #
A lavendar princess chats to a school girl. Their mother from the pram looks protectively back to make sure they haven’t disappeared. They know they are protected and no one can harm them on the walk to school.
A group of school boys, with slightly ruffled shirts and unruly caps tilted sideways, with drinks of juice and soft drink in hand, call out random names of friends, John, Josh…
Girls with mobile phones glance down, or have them plugged in as walkmans; they are in the zone, a bubble of solitude and protection from anything that should disturb their morning equilibrium.
A young man strolls alone, muttering to himself, unaware of all that surrounds him, and he is telling himself something of importance, in his own bubble. Walk, mutter, walk, mutter.
Two children pat a dog under a tree. Who is around to take him home?
A group of friends gather around a Dad or is it a granddad with a prammed child. They are chatting, and as one leaves, he calls out, ‘Are you alright then?’ Perhaps he hasn’t been alright at school lately and needs just a little extra support.
Students play hand ball. Other walkers remember their school days and how they wore their hats. ‘We had to wear our hats everywhere.’
Girls sport pony tailed hair, this is the school rule when it is past the shoulders.
Someone says, ‘Good morning,’ and smiles, that is unexpected, with all the protective bubbles around.
Beginning its journey into poem
To turn this short piece into a poem the first question I ask myself is:
1. What does this prose piece currently say?
My answers to this are:
People create solitude zones when the world around them feels chaotic – they sometimes chose to shut it out.
The world outside is full of interractions of parents, and children heading to school, going into places with rules they must follow and sometimes frightened others might not follow the rules and hurt them.
Do we really know the back story to the people we walk past, if we don’t talk to them? Can we play detective and guest what they are thinking?
For all the people that travel in groups; there is someone, sometimes multiple people, travelling alone.
The young travel protected by the ones they love or by pets, but can they really always be protected and what would make them really safe.
A smile can disrupt disconnection and bring people together.
2. What is the Narrative Voice of this piece?
Currently the narrative voice is an observer who is slightly disconnected from everyone. She has no real character and is trying to get inside people’s back story but is only inventing them.
The closed off person, walking alone, is noticeable, for his difference. The groups of girls on mobiles, are also somehow alone, but are the connecting to the world on their phones- or are they disconnecting.
I ask myself more questions about narrative voice:
What would happen if a particular character or observer was chosen to deliver this piece?
Who would be a good choice and why?
Should the narrative voice remain outside the picture?
Could several voices narrate the piece?
Will the narrative voice be distant, warm, cold and why?
I don’t want to answer these sub questions yet, and instead will mull over them.
3. Are there any metaphors in the piece to extend and develop?
The obvious metaphor, not yet fully developed is that of the bubble. The bubble of inner thoughts. The thought bubble of the narrator around people. The social media or phone bubble, the ear phone bubble. The pop of the bubble? What will make this metaphor dazzle, and zing.
What can disrupt of pop the bubble?
How could the bubble metaphor be developed and is it the right metaphor for this piece?
So those are my thoughts for now. I will come back to this in my next blog, and you can see how I went with beginning the transformation of a short observational prose piece into a poem or poetic prose? And you can find out:
What other questions will I ask myself in this journey of turning prose to poetry?
It was a great honour and enormous fun to facilitate poetry workshops for vibrant young people, at the ALEA, Meanjin at Griffith University, Mount Gravatt, on July the 4th 2019.
The participants varied in their experience and love of poetry, but many had learnt or attempted something new with poetry by the end of the workshops.
The day began with a welcome to country, acknowledgment, from Gregg Dreise for about eighty young people. He invites audience participation in his welcomes and keeps everyone on their toes in an engaging way.
This was followed by a key note presentation from Morris Gleitzman, talking about the discovery of the ‘secret of writing’ through reading first lines in the library. I won’t tell you this secret, in case you have a chance to hear Morris speak on it, and be captivated by this mystery. You might find you already know it.
Then the participants, aged from 9 to 15, of about 20 students in each group, went to do a workshop with the authors in these smaller groups. They meet with Candice Lemon Scott on Short Story and inspirations from the environment, Gregg Dreise on Storytelling and Story Boarding, Katrin Deiling on the art of illustration with some practical work in painting, and me on poetry, photographic inspirations, and forms like the Rengu, Golden Shovel, and writing inspired by art or visual images. We did a bit of cliche busting as well, and looked at the search to be original and memorable when you write.
We spent time in some of the breaks chatting with any participants and signing books if they wished to purchase any to take home. My poetry book for children is readily available in many of the Brisbane public libraries, and quite a few schools have purchased it as well. My main goal is for young people to realise that there are so many kinds of poetry – there is form to suit every kind of personality, from the confident performer, to the quiet meditative soul who would rather you read their poem when they are not sitting there.
At the end of the day, some of the students, performed their work. I was delighted to hear some talented young poets read works to make you either laugh, think deeply, or be enchanted by the magic of their metre and metaphors.
I also read some of their works during sessions, for those quieter pieces, that are not designed for performance. And was delighted that some students chose to write collaboratively and create renga.
A huge thank you to ALEA Meanjin for the fabulous hosting during the day, and looking after all the presenters and participants so beautifully.
You can find out more about ALEA and their goals on their facebook page