Congratulations to Kenji, the winner of our 2010 National Poetry Month Prompt Contest!
Here’s a slightly paraphrased version of his winning prompt.
Writes Kenji: “This one is not mine originally, but it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever tried. It comes by way of poet Suheir Hammad.”
Close your eyes and think about a time in your life that was extremely difficult. Imagine the scene in as much detail as possible. Now, holding that moment of difficulty in your mind, search the scene and find one aspect of the situation or your environment that was beautiful. It could be environment and sensory – a sound, color, texture, lighting – or it could be an insight, perspective or emotion that existed at the same time as the difficulty.
Write about that beautiful aspect of this scene of difficulty for 15 minutes.
* * *
We liked the creative possibilities of the paradoxical tension that this prompt asks the writer to explore: not beauty in spite of difficulty, nor a romanticized celebration of difficulty, but the strangeness by which a moment of difficulty can take on aspects of the beautiful. Exploring this sort of tension in a poem may have the potential to open up an image or brief narrative moment to strange, surprising, and ever more complex associations.
Kenji will be receiving a signed copy of Monica Youn’s Ignatz. Congratulations to him, and many thanks to all who participated!