1. Clasp your hands together, aligning thumbs and pressing fingertips to fingertips.
2. What is between your hands? Make a list. Write down at least five.
3. Clasp your hands again.
4. What is beyond your hands? Make a list. Write down twice as many as in the previous list.
5. Set a timer for 2 minutes.
6. Free write your response—journal entry style: During this time, how are the elements or events outside your hands affecting you? Don't stop writing—no matter what comes out—until the timer sounds. Two minutes. Go.
8. Take a deep breath. Yell. Do not repeat. Get what you need the first time.
9. Take a look at the inventory between your hands. Describe how you will nurture or maintain at least five.
10. Read everything you've just written: the lists, the free write and the descriptions, everything.
11. Underline 20 phrases and words. Any combination, from anything written on the page. Suggestion: choose the blocks of language waving themselves at your attention. You don't have to know why. Trust it.
12. Arrange those 20 lines of text into a poem.
More from this series
Personification: A Social Justice PromptPrompt #21—Derrick Harriell
Ponge ExercisePrompt #20—Tyrone Williams
Occult DocupoesisPrompt #19—Kimberly Alidio
Junk Drawer SongPrompt #18—Hoa Nguyen
TALK TO THE POETSPrompt #17—Stacy Szymaszek
Make-Do Origin Stories & Concrete FuturesPrompt #16—Ching-In Chen
The Family PhotographPrompt #15—Rosa Alcalá
Writing Advice for Your Younger SelfPrompt #14—E.J. Koh
Note(s) to SelfPrompt #13—Stacy Blint
Embracing ConfusionPrompt #12—Bryon Cherry
Writing/Playing the ArchivePrompt #11—Jay Besemer
CAPTURED & FREEDPrompt #10—Dasha Kelly Hamilton
Poetic Exit StrategiesPrompt #9—Ana Božičević
Proyecto ConbífPrompt #8—Erick "CK" Ledesma
TRILOGYPrompt #6—CA Conrad
Utopian CompromisePrompt #7—Paul Druecke
A Series of RoomsPrompt #5—Laura Solomon
Two Variations on N+7Prompt #4—Jenny Gropp
T H E A P A R T / TOGETHERPOEMPrompt #3—Margaret Rozga
An Exercise in WindowsPrompt #2—Marla Sanvick
Erasuring AnxietyPrompt #1—Peter Burzynski
We acknowledge that in Milwaukee we live and work on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee homelands along the southwest shores of Michigami, part of North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, and Mohican nations remain present.
We further acknowledge the grave evil colonialism introduced to these lands through genocide as well as slavery, and also via racist and xenophobic beliefs, laws, and practices that continue to inflict harm upon Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives. We honor those who have lived—and do live, now—at these intersections of identity and experience, and are committed to the active dismantling of white supremacy.
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