Tuesday Tryouts: Poem on Things Meaningful to You

06 Sep

9:17 a.m.– Atlanta

Hello, everyone. I have my coffee to my left, a box of Kleenex to my right [the cold from hell will not leave] and am ready for a fun prompt to play with, an interesting one to think about: What are the things that are the most meaningful to you and why?

I thought of the idea when I came across a post by Mary Oliver of the blog Temporary Reality. She and her family have been in the midst of a large move, which she has been chronicling. The post deals with what to take, what to store. In the process she came to realise the things most meaningful to her.

  • all our family photos – from the 1920s to the present and even a few from the 1800s and early 1900s. A digital set (gradually gaining physical form) of family photos from China, early 1900s through 1980s.Β  There aren’t many of those due to the economic and political nature of the times.
  • the hand crocheted doilies and hand edged or embroidered linens from my paternal great grandmother who immigrated here from France in either the late 1800s or early 1900s..
  • a few of my mother’s childhood books including Old Bones the Wonder Horse and Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint. Her set of Shakespeare’s Complete Works as well as other classics.
  • my mother-in-law’s suitcase.Β  She started work young, in Shanghai in the late 1930s and with her first paycheck she bought a leather suitcase.
  • My parent’; letters and some tapes from before they were married and when my dad was in Vietnam. I’ve never read them – and don’t intend to until after my dad is no longer here.
  • a table my mom bought for $20 at a garage sale – it was our table from the time Dantseng and I were married in 1991 until 2008.Β  A lot of loaves of bread we kneaded on that tabletop – it’ll be kept while the fancy cherry table that was my grandmother’s will go to my cousin while we’re gone.
  • “The Kindergarten Boxes” – Rubbermaid tubs with the girls’ early schoolwork, class pictures, drawings and paintings.

Each item is the seed of a poem and I knew I wanted to make a prompt of it. Think about the things that are meaningful to you, make a list [say 6 to 10 items], write a poem.

There are a few ways you can think about it and a couple of ways to structure it [loosely]. Once you have your list, consider if you were to go on a trip to Mars and were allowed to take only one meaningful item, what would you take? Or, if there were a fire, what one item would you save? Or, like Mary, if you were moving a long way, for several years, what one meaningful item would you take? Once you have your item write your poem. The other possibility, is once you have your list, turn it into a list poem.

The list you come up with will be a possible resource for a couple of prompts I am working on to do with self; don’t toss it.

I am looking forward to reading what is meaningful to all of you, so don’t forget to post your link, or poem, in comments.

I shall see you Thursday for a discussion on an aspect of language that I will set up and then leave to you to respond to; Friday for the roundup of prompts; and maybe next Tuesday. I am traveling up to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, to spend a week with my uncle going through family papers. I have no idea what the computer situation is. If I do not appear Tuesday, I will be dark for the week, and back with you the following Tuesday. [I shall be even later than usual with comments, too].

Meanwhile, happy writing.


Posted by on 06/09/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , ,

27 responses to “Tuesday Tryouts: Poem on Things Meaningful to You

  1. 1storyeveryday

    06/09/2011 at 11:17 am

    I like to think about why objects are meaningful to us – how does something inanimate, sometimes just a piece of material or something, take on such deep meaning for us? Why does this happen?

    • margo roby

      06/09/2011 at 12:30 pm

      Sounds like a subject for a poem, 1story! And I agree. When I look at the things that hold meaning for me, they are almost all to do with family rather than myself, if that makes sense.


  2. Teri

    06/09/2011 at 1:53 pm

    Looking forward to letting this prompt collect itself and see what shows up. And you need to FEEL BETTER darn it! Have a safe trip- hope you are better before you leave! xo teri

    • margo roby

      06/09/2011 at 4:55 pm

      I like that, Teri: let the prompt collect itself. And I am trying. From what I can tell I have no brains left because I have blown them all out, that or I had no brains but a head full of mucus! Yecch πŸ™‚ However, I am on the upswing.


  3. wordsandthoughtspjs

    06/09/2011 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Margo, I just left a comment, hum? Anyhow, I love this prompt, and will write something in the next few days. I missed last week’s prompt, but I plan on trying the form soon.

    I hope you feel better soon πŸ™‚


    • margo roby

      06/09/2011 at 4:57 pm

      Hey, Pamela. Anything from you is good :-)…comment, note, poem. This prompt is one of my favourites and I think you’ll enjoy last week’s form.

      Am starting to feel like I may live πŸ˜‰


  4. ladynimue

    06/09/2011 at 6:09 pm

    My post :

    thanks a ton for the inspiration .. badly needed it i guess πŸ˜‰

    • margo roby

      07/09/2011 at 9:26 am

      You are welcome, Lady N! I think we all spend a large part of our writing time looking for what will inspire us next πŸ™‚


  5. anl4

    07/09/2011 at 9:36 am

    A very interesting and revealing prompt. Thank you.

    • margo roby

      07/09/2011 at 10:42 am

      You are welcome, Annell. It is an interesting one, isn’t it.


  6. Mike Patrick

    07/09/2011 at 2:56 pm

    This took considerably more thought than I had imagined. A good mental exercise.

    • margo roby

      08/09/2011 at 10:44 am

      It is, isn’t it, Mike. And one, that I think pays to come back to approaching from different angles.


  7. anjum wasim dar

    07/09/2011 at 3:44 pm

    Respected Margo with due regards, If I may share some lines:

    Things objects clothes even words don’t matter
    when the cherished valued person is no more

    everything appears a meaningless scatter
    when lost is the touch, body gone for sure

    one may keep snaps , books, cards and files
    they become a storehouse of still silent piles

    The heavy prompt rests on a serious note
    reminds me of poet Mirza Ghalib and I quote

    ‘when I ceased to be,they found no ends
    only’some love letters, some snaps of friends’

    (chnd tasweer e butan, chnd haseenon ke khatoot
    baad marne ke mere ghar se ye samaan nikla)URDU

    so what to leave behind and what all to take
    leave the old memories, carry all good no fake

    for a writer, its the pen filled with non drying ink
    the notebook , the laptop to maintain the link

    with it I may sling on my camera a gifted Sony
    would love to ride and fly on a white winged pony

    • Mike Patrick

      07/09/2011 at 7:33 pm

      The memories remain as long as one lives, but memories are difficult to hand down–unless one is a writer and had written them out for posterity. There are too few writers to keep up with the memories. May you always strive for your family.

    • margo roby

      08/09/2011 at 10:43 am

      I like Ghalib’s couplet and I like how you include it as part of your poem, Anjum.


  8. viv blake

    08/09/2011 at 3:37 am

    My brain has been scoured in response to this prompt and the result is here: My list poem – just that, a list – says much of what Anjum has said, only less poetically!

    Thank you Roby for challenging us, despite a head full of yuk.

    • margo roby

      08/09/2011 at 10:42 am

      You do put things so poetically, Viv πŸ™‚ As for you poem, it is not less poetic, it is differently poetic and I like it very much.


  9. anjum wasim dar

    08/09/2011 at 5:49 am

    Mike Patrick :Thank you Mr Patrick, yes indeed memories stay until we deliberately block or hide them away. Life past is definitely unforgettable but ‘we need to keep the Good ‘for a better ‘today and the present’

  10. anjum wasim dar

    08/09/2011 at 1:41 pm

    Thank You Margo , Our Literature Teacher in College taught us to combine works of other contemporary authors and to find similarities in themes, then express our answers as true literary responses.This meant a lot of intensive reading…deeply grateful for the encouraging comment.

  11. wordsandthoughtspjs

    09/09/2011 at 4:04 pm

    Margo, I didn’t come up with a list poem. I wrote about something that will stay with me for all my days, no matter where I roam. Thanks for the prompt, and for being here.


    How I Can Carry Laughter and Smiles

  12. Teri

    11/09/2011 at 12:43 am

    I began but could not focus on things meaningful to me for this writing prompt. Indeed there is a home filled with 30 years worth of all that brings me comfort. As I type I have a love affair with the orchid on my table and the table cloth I made. I have unflinching affection for the pottery,and the window. But it’s the thank you notes that peek out from the wicker basket- and knowing there is a box full in the cupboard below. And the photo reminders in every corner. Those are the connectors – connected to the ones that connect us. And when we can no longer touch and see them- or hear their voice. So on this Sunday with a quiet heart I have written this instead-

    • margo roby

      20/09/2011 at 9:53 am

      Oy! Teri. Read your comment to me. You have a poem right there and a lovely one. However, my friend, I shall head over and read your stone. But, I love what you wrote here…


  13. Teri

    20/09/2011 at 10:25 am

    Thank you Margo- I have copied the my “comment” words into my post for that day- thanks for enfolding my comment with your words. And thank you for visiting my blog xo teri -PS glad you are back! Hope you finally kicked that cold.

  14. margo roby

    20/09/2011 at 10:36 am

    I’m glad I am back too, Teri. As much fun as I was having, it is good to come home, and I didn’t like being away from the blog, given my long absence a short time ago.
    My cold seems ill-disposed to leave. I am down to nasal drip and a cough that will not go away. I’ll give me a few more days and then start the hunt for a doctor 😦


    • anjum wasim dar

      20/09/2011 at 1:56 pm

      A highly effective remedy for colds , if you may believe in and try- ‘3 drops or 2.5 ml of black seed oil mixed with honey” morning or night for 3 days -if it helps-then 2 more days.Wish you good health Margo.


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