The third lesson

by nike, May 9, 2015

Boo and I have been ambling our way through the How Writers Write Poetry online MOOC. The course is presented by Christopher Merrill and Camille Rankine, via the University of Iowa.

This week’s lesson was on ‘the line and the page’ and the assignments were to write a prose poem, and to write a poem that uses the whole page.

Boo wrote a prose poem without a title, though she says you can call it Mum’s place if you are really wanting a title. She says it feels unfinished. And that she is disdaining commas and question marks.

I don’t miss the morning cold. Or the way the wind is always blowing in my hair. People feed the birds here. Day old white bread strewn across public lawns and private parks. Did you ever notice the way Mum never stops at roundabouts. Or the way your little sister talks. Like she’s an extra in a music video. When she grabs your hand to dance she is suddenly eighteen and hitting the clubs with her girls. Did you notice the way it makes you feel. The daggy older sister who wears her hair short and worries too much. Did you notice the stale acidic scent of cat and cigarettes. That is distinctly Mum’s place. The way you can miss people even when you’re with them. The way that visiting home can take you back. A decade. You see. Not how this place has changed. But you. Did you ever notice the way Mum’s place is like a time capsule. Yet to be sealed. Never buried.

And I wrote a poem that uses a whole page. It’s called ‘pick & choose’.

Pick a bird

Pick a piece of punctuation

Pick a bird

Choose another bird

pickThere are eight ‘fortunes’ inside the paper fortune teller, intended to be discovered in random order, but here they are:

your love is a
smug egg

a bird’s fine beak will peck
at your sorrow
and loss

you will know
the invisible architecture
of the sky

your love will eat seeds
and fly

you will fall
into the air

a bird will make
a nest in your beard

King of Wrens, you
will be hunted

your love will smell
like camphor laurels
and lemonade


  • Thank you for posting and bloggin about this MOOC - it's fabulous! Love your choice poem :-) I', still way too literal but playing around with where things go on the page... http://carlabillinghurst.com/2015/05/09/claiming-insurance-when-your-car-is-written-off-through-the-carelessness-of-aliens/

      • Replay Cancel Replay
      • May 9, 2015

      So glad you've jumped in and are playing poetry with us. We're having a lovely time. The platform they're using is *not* user friendly, but the content is wondrous. I love your poem, especially this line: "Or the resonance of the water against the side of the boat tells you how deep and cold and dead you’ll be if you fall in there"

Leave a Reply

Subscribe now!

Enter your email address to subscribe to perilous adventures and receive notifications of new posts by email.