Today’s prompts were inspired by the Guinevere’s Camelot section of November Butterfly (Saddle Road Press, 2014). While the Section II poems speak primarily from Guinevere’s point of view, we also hear from Mordred, Arthur and Lancelot (see prompt 12, inspired by Mordred’s Dream). In today’s poem, The Corridor, Guinevere enjoys a moment alone with her mother in the corridor that connects their rooms; this brief stolen moment affords Guinevere a reverie on the power of connection vs. power of throne.
- Watch the poetry movie, The Corridor. Make a list of stolen or special moments you experienced with your mother or as the mother to a daughter or son. Where might mother and daughter/son find a stolen moment of time in which to be together? Make a list of settings (car, bedroom, restaurant, hiking trail, etc.). Write one poem from the point of view of child and another from the point of view of mother. Write a number of versions using different settings.
- In the poem, My Mother Would be a Falconress, Robert Duncan uses the image of a falconress for his mother and places himself in relation to her as the “gay falcon treading her wrist.” He explores the psychological and emotional dynamics of their relationship. Emily Dickinson chose Nature as one of her mothers in Nature the Gentlest Mother Is. Read both poems. Make a list of metaphors for the relationship you have with your mother and use one of those metaphors as a basis for a poem. Or model the poem on other mother/daughter father/son relationships.
- Read Mark Strand’s My Mother on An Evening in Late Summer. Imagine you see your mother or father, unable to sleep, standing in some location late at night. Where is she/he standing? What is she/he thinking? Use the combination of setting and imagined thought to anchor a poem.
- In Kahlil Gibran’s short poem, The Sleep-Walkers, Gibran gives us two versions of a conversation between a mother and a daughter (a sleeping and a waking version). Make a list of things we assume to be true of the relationship between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, mothers and sons, or fathers and daughters. Write your own day and night versions of the same conversation in which the waking conversation bears out what we assume often to be true and the night conversation bears out the hidden or buried sentiment.
- Read Evie Shockley’s Where is it Clean. Make a list of times your mother was lit up on your behalf or proud of you in some way. Describe the way she walks across a room, down a church aisle, or pumps gas without mentioning the pride; convey her pride in the way you describe her movements in relation to the speaker.
- In Ruth Thompson’s poem My Mother’s Hands, the opening image we see is of a pair of hands clenching and unclenching a steering wheel. Make a list of objects you remember seeing in your mother’s hands or father’s hands. Use the image held in mother’s hands/father’s hands to start your poem.
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.
The Corridor, the poetry movie, along with Mordred’s Dream, Amelia, Thumbelina, and She Dressed in a Hurry, Lady Di will be screened at the Guerneville Public Library, 14107 Armstrong Woods Rd. Guerneville, California this coming Wednesday, October 14 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Robyn Beattie will read the poems, show the movies, and discuss her images and field questions regarding her photography process.
Three Questions, Interview at Extract(s) about inhabiting Guinevere in November Butterfly
Scholarly Arthurian Resources at The Camelot Project, A Robbins Library Digital Project
Interviews with Authors of Modern Arthurian Literature conducted by Raymond H. Thompson (including interviews with Margaret Atwood, Mary Stewart, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Nikolai Tolstoy, Jane Yolen, and more).
Posts on Feral Mom, Feral Writer about process of poems/poetry movies:
Revising Guinevere: Ten Writers Transforming Rape or When Trees Mattered More Than Boys
Tripping with the Girls at La Posada: Architects, Painters, and First Ladies
Photo at top of post and cover for the poetry collection, November Butterfly, by Robyn Beattie. Cover Design, Don Mitchell, Saddle Road Press.