06/01: Many thanks to Tongo Eisen-Martin for sharing this prompt with us. Read some of his poetry here.
PROMPT: Imagine the city is a body -- describe it. What does it look like? What sounds does it make? How does it smell? Who is it to you?
On an unrelated note, we encourage all revolutionaries to keep in mind this quote from Tongo Eisen-Martin, the inspiration for today's prompt.
“REVOLUTION’S MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCE IS ITS REVOLUTIONARY. IT IS NOT WORTH IT TO SACRIFICE YOURSELF FOR ANY OBJECTIVE. AS LONG AS WE HAVE YOU WE HAVE A CHANCE… POETRY IS CRUCIAL IN THAT YOU DON’T HAVE ANY REVOLUTIONARY STAGE UNTIL YOU HAVE A MASS OF PEOPLE THAT FIND OPPRESSION TO BE UNACCEPTABLE.
YOU ASK PEOPLE... WHAT POLITICIZED YOU?.. A POEM! DOES THAT MEAN WE ONLY ENGAGE IN POETRY? NO! YOUR POETRY GETS BETTER AS YOU ENGAGE IN POLITICAL STRUGGLE. OUT OF RESPECT FOR THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US WHO WERE ABLE TO CARRY OUT THIS DISCIPLINED STRUGGLE… REMEMBER WE’VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO RAGE OUR WAY TO A FINISH LINE. BUT THAT’S NOT TO SAY WE DON’T FEEL NOTHIN’. BUT WE DON’T HAVE TO OPERATE OUT OF HOPELESSNESS.
WE CAN BE TIRED BUT NEVER HOPELESS.”
06/08: This week's prompt is inspired by the poem The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady & The Dead & The Truth by Morgan Parker.
PROMPT: Take 7 minutes to write about something you love so much that you would/have/want to become it. What is it? What does "becoming" it look like?
06/15: This week's prompt is inspired by a poem written by Freedom Arts Movement comrade, Gabrielle Davis.
Angry girl, bare your teeth
Growl and bark like a dog encountering its reflection
Whimper and whine and cower away like a dog’s reflection encountering its body
You are all hips, child-bearing hips
All shoulders too, broad like your dad
Short and wide and feminine for your soft jaw and small mouth and all hips
Masculine for your rage and the aggressive thumping of your heart
Croon like Prince, see if they get the point:
In one breath, “I’m not a woman, I’m not a man. I am something you will never understand.”
In the other:
“I would die for you.”
Croon, dog, at your reflection.
Bare your teeth, reflection, at every dog.
PROMPT: Open up your preferred choice of music-streaming app, and press shuffle on your liked songs. Look up the lyrics to the first song that comes up, and then skip the next four songs, pressing pause on the fifth song that comes up -- look up the lyrics to that song as well. Incorporate one line from each song into your writing!
06/22: This week's prompt is inspired by The Seven Deadly Sins of (and Necessary Steps Toward) Making Art by Brenda Shaughnessy.
PROMPT: Take 8-10 minutes to write a piece about the Seven Deadly Sins of something you know well. For example, the Seven Deadly Sins of Cat Ownership, the Seven Deadly Sins of Working In A Grocery Store, the Seven Deadly Sins of Being a Student, etc. Alternatively, write a poem about the Biblical Seven Deadly Sins, found here. As always, do not be afraid to pivot in a new direction if you get stuck or restarting altogether; the purpose of these exercises is simply to encourage you to write in a way/about things that you may not traditionally write. Have fun!
06/29: This week's prompt is inspired by one of the most familiar Tsalagi creation stories. In short, it loosely goes something like this:
In the beginning, the Earth was entirely underwater, and all creatures lived in the sky. It got very crowded, so the animals decided to send Water Beetle down to investigate the world. Water Beetle dove to the bottom of the water and brought some mud up to the surface, which spread rapidly to cover the earth. However, it was much too wet for the rest of the animals to come down and live on it, so they asked Buzzard to fly down over the mud to dry it with his wings. Soon he drifted too close to the earth and the downward flap of his wings created a valley, while the upward draft of his wings created a mountain. The animals watching from above the rainbow said, "If he keeps on, there will only be mountains," and they made him come back. That's why we have so many mountains in Cherokee land.
The animals descended on the earth, but couldn't see anything as it was entirely dark. So they pulled Sun down close to the earth. Now they had light, but it was much to hot, because Sun was too close to the earth. The crawfish had his back sticking out of a stream, and Sun burned it red. His meat was spoiled for ever, and the people still won't eat crawfish.
Various plants were then put into the ground by Someone Powerful, and they were told to stay awake for seven days and seven nights. Only a select few, among them holly, laurel, pine, and cedar, stay awake until the 8th day. Because they stayed awake, they are allowed to keep their hair year round. This is why they stay green in the winter.
After creating plants and animals, Someone Powerful made man and his sister. The man poked his sister with a fish and told her to go give birth. After seven days she had a baby, and after seven more days she had another, and every seven days another came. The humans increased so quickly that Someone Powerful, thinking there would soon be no more room on this earth, arranged things so that a woman could have only one child every year. And that's how it was.
Now, there is still another world under the one we live on. You can reach it by going down a spring, but you need underworld people to be your scouts and guide you. The world under our earth is exactly like ours, except that it's winter down there when its summer up here. We can see that easily, because spring water is warmer than the air in winter and cooler than the air in summer.
PROMPT: Write your own creation story for something/someone/somewhere you love. For example, how were you created? How was your favorite national park created? How was the world created? What went into the creation of whatever it is you chose, and how was it shaped by those things?