In the poem Nabokov (forthcoming in November Butterfly, Saddle Road Press, November 1, 2014), Prufrock from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Nabokov’s Lolita, Sky Chief’s Daughter from the Trickster Tale Raven and Gretl from the fairytale Hansel and Gretl converge.
- Make a list of names of favorite characters from poems, novels, fairytales, and trickster tales. Cut up your list, one name per slip, and put all the names into a hat. Or choose your own favorite genres—science fiction, graphic novels, who-dunnits, etc. Just make sure you have a variety of genres represented. Select four names from the hat (keep picking until you have four genres represented) and write a poem in which the four characters converge.
- A line in the poem Nabokov refers to the internal Gretl inside of each one of us: “Which Gretl choose years later follow us home.” When and where in your life have you lived your Gretl years? Describe the physical details of your own psychological journey.
- The poem Nabokov also looks at the question of author intention with regards to treatment of the female psyche and male predator. Reverse genders of H.H. and Lolita and write a poem speaking in the voice of a boy child nagivating Lolita’s circumstances.
- The rest of the line quoted across the image in this post reads, “Lolita wake! from barbiturate sleep to run / shedding notions never hers.” Write out a list of borrowed notions, either of your own, or for any character from your list of favorite characters from prompt 1 above.
Write for at least twenty minutes without censor and share your exercise or any thoughts about your writing process in comments below. Or add links for us to visit along any topic line inspired by the exercise.
T.S. Elliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Brothers Grimm Hansel and Gretl at East of the Web
Raven A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest by Gerald McDermott on Goodreads
Lolita at 50 by Stephen Metcalf at Slate
The Secret of Nabokov’s Sexual Style The Guardian by David Lodge:
Lolita Redux: The Early Sexualization of Our Daughters on BlogHer by Lisen Stromberg
The Books Interview: Emily Prager – The Liberation of Lolita at The Independent by John Walsh