Poem Tryouts: The Animal in All of Us

25 Mar

7:26 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Iz singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World

Hello, all. Listening to Iz singing this song makes everything feel better, at least, for the moment. Such a lovely rendition, especially for a Spring/Autumn morning, that’s waa-aay too early. I am in my computer corner, the sun not yet over the horizon, a single lamp trained on my keyboard. First cup of coffee is gone; the next is down the road a bit.

The images I chose for you to play with have a small back story. Last week I was emailing back and forth with my brother [his version of chat] and sent him the following to express how I was feeling:

73c16df87ca6c3034a2a8bbceea8faf1While discussing the type of bird, he interrupted with: It looks like Gee Gee. I returned to the photo and laughed. It does, indeed, look like our grandmother.

Two days later a site I follow, Where Cool Things Happen, posted: ‘More Than Human Animal Portraits,’ a series by photographer Tim Flach. You’re getting glimmerings of the prompt, aren’t you?

Head over and look at the photographs. Take your time. As you review them, allow your brain to roam through your family, or friends, or co-workers, or someone you saw who is memorable to you.

When your brain says, That’s it. That’s Uncle George [or Cousin Melanie, or your spouse, or the Starbucks barista who serves you regularly, or your boss…], stop and look at the image for several minutes, picking out what it is that makes the resemblance uncanny. For my brother and myself, it’s the white cloud of ‘hair,’ the eyes, a little, and something else, undefinable.

You are going to write a portrait poem. When you have your image and your person, think of words associated with your particular animal and jot them down. Jot down another list, of things you associate with your chosen person. The likeness can be other than a facial feature. Maybe it’s the stride of the animal, or the way it holds its arms, or its hairstyle [so to speak].

What you do now is up to where your mind is taking you. You might write a poem where you use some of the words associated with your chosen animal as ways to describe your chosen person. They can be threaded throughout, but you never mention the animal. The poem stands on its own.

You might be less direct and use similes. Here you mention the animal, either briefly once, or all the way through.

You might choose to set your person within the context of a scene, or memory. How the person behaves, or reacts, helps illustrate the person’s likeness to the animal you chose.

I am giving you the link to the photographer’s site because the opening page is so cool. Then click on portfolio–>More Than Human. The slideshow has 61 slides. You can certainly watch and choose one of those. To stop a slide, mouse underneath the photos and thumbnails will show up. Click on the one you want to look at more closely.

Think of it as finding a new perspective on someone. I know: this is one of those prompts where you try to figure out what exactly I am asking you to do. As always, that’s okay. Write poems.Post.

I shall see you Thursday for stuff; Friday for the week’s prompt roundup; and that’s it until May 6. The blog will be active, but with my Oulipo poem a day challenge. Follow along for some very different prompts.

Happy writing, all.







Posted by on 25/03/2014 in exercises, poems, poetry


38 responses to “Poem Tryouts: The Animal in All of Us

  1. A.A. Palmer (a.k.a. The Happy Amateur)

    25/03/2014 at 9:57 am

    What a site (or sight)! Thank you, Margo, for the link. Cool things indeed. I was laughing so hard, when I saw the dog’s portrait (a puffy cloud of hair): I immediately saw somebody I know. It was the face, too, not just the hair. Amazing. I just hope people I know won’t see me in that rooster..

    • margo roby

      25/03/2014 at 10:12 am

      Isn’t it gorgeous?! I know what you mean about it being the face. That’s the undefinable with the bird and my grandmother. Sasha, you dance around er, featherless, do you?

  2. Carol Carlisle

    25/03/2014 at 12:36 pm

    Got stuck looking through the photos,
    may come up with something
    by next July!

  3. Misky

    25/03/2014 at 12:41 pm

  4. b_young

    25/03/2014 at 1:32 pm

    I like the photos. Be interesting to know what’s behind my resistance. May have to give them a different spin. We’ll see.

    • margo roby

      25/03/2014 at 1:40 pm

      It would be. In the meantime, take any direction you want. Keep people out of it altogether. If not, ah well. May is around the corner! Although you might be irritated enough at one of the oulipo prompts I’ll be working with to give it a bash. I’m hoping people try some of them.

      • b_young

        25/03/2014 at 2:05 pm

        I’m fine with oulipo as a trigger. Really like some forms of it. Trigger, springboard, si. Poetry…case by case.

  5. Hannah Gosselin

    25/03/2014 at 5:58 pm

    Okay…well this was fun and I got it all written and for some, (really irritating) reason wordpress won’t allow me to paste in the publishing box!!

    This is a first…grrrrr.

    • margo roby

      25/03/2014 at 6:01 pm

      You have, of course, got it safely saved, yes? Tell wordpress it’s a bad boy and you are sanctioning it until morning.

      • Hannah Gosselin

        25/03/2014 at 6:05 pm

        Yes, it’s saved…just my instant gratification of being able to post is not being met and the inner “baby” in me is being extra loud. 😉

        You’re right…I’m probably going to have to let it go for now…re-look up all my links and pics later…grrr again.

        • margo roby

          25/03/2014 at 6:07 pm

          You tell it. Just snarl away, all evening. It might frighten the man and the children, but what the heck 😀

          • Hannah Gosselin

            25/03/2014 at 6:10 pm

            :)!!! Ha! I love that AND my snarling and a bit of finagling worked!! I printed some text into the posting box and when I right clicked on that the copy/paste tool suddenly appeared so I’m in!! Yay…it’s the small things…I tell ya. 😉

            Phew…thank you for talking me outta that tree, Margo!!

  6. whimsygizmo

    25/03/2014 at 7:32 pm

    • margo roby

      25/03/2014 at 7:44 pm

      You are entirely welcome, de. Can’t wait to see what you have done.

  7. purplepeninportland

    26/03/2014 at 12:07 am

    Took me a while to decide. Great prompt!

  8. Quickly

    26/03/2014 at 2:13 pm

    Monkey Do

    I know exactly what you mean!
    Sestina’s second verse begins
    right where the last one ended.
    Then go back to the beginning,
    for your second second line end.
    Third’s the one before the last last;
    Forth is what was second. Fifth
    was forth and Sixth was third. It’s
    simply back and forth and out to in!
    I know just what you mean: Wow!

    • b_young

      26/03/2014 at 2:30 pm

      Opps. Pay no mind to the rabbit. She’s getting pushy.

      • margo roby

        27/03/2014 at 11:46 am

        Chuckle. Chuckle and grin. Push away. I’m adding your ‘directions’ to my Margo needs all the help she can get file.

        • b_young

          27/03/2014 at 12:04 pm

          It really does work, back and forth, Bottom, Top; Out to In
          6,1,5,2,4,3 of whatever verse you’re following.

  9. markwindham

    31/03/2014 at 10:30 pm

    Yes it is a week late 🙂 but now you get the pleasure of going back through the images to figure out which one I used. And I wrote…something.

    • margo roby

      31/03/2014 at 10:34 pm

      Well, look at you! I’m heading over.


Join the discussion and feel free to critique, or suggest an idea for any poem I post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: