Prompt Wednesday: Imitation Poems

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Editor’s Note: This post has been written by Tonya Peterson, an English major at Lewis University. Tonya is interning with the Jet Fuel Review this semester and will be contributing blog posts periodically.

“Imitation, conscious imitation, is one of the great methods, perhaps the method of learning to write. The ancients, the Elizabethans, knew this, profited by it, and were not disturbed. As a son of Ben [Jonson], Herrick more than once rewrote Jonson, who, in turn, drew heavily on the classics. And so on.”—Theodore Roethke, “How to Write Like Somebody Else”

As a creative writer, I have found myself facing the dreadful writer’s block syndrome. I was dumbfounded by how I was going to create unique and interesting works for my writing portfolio until my son came home with a middle school poem exercise. He was tasked with an assignment to re-write a nursery rhyme. I immediately recalled the imitation exercises that I did in my writing workshops at Lewis University and he and I knocked that assignment out in no time. That prompted me to start flipping through some poetry books to find a poem to emulate.

Imitation or copying has a connotation that implies something bad. However, as a writer, I needed to remember that my inspiration to write has often times come from other writer’s works.  It is not copying an author when you cite their work, so think of imitation as the most direct route to mastering a skill. You just follow the master step by step and you’re bound to get it. Is that not how we learn to do pretty much everything in life?  It is not just found in writing either. In actuality there is a long tradition of this in the arts. Go to a museum and you’re likely to find a student tracing someone else’s moves.

Imitation is a means by which we can take past traditions into account and build upon, develop, and change the past tradition all the while finding our contribution to the fine arts. It is a method that will help hone the craft of creation. By imitating the writing styles of the greats, one can feel the process of putting the words on the paper and will eventually learn to branch out into their own creative and unique style.

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Prompt Wednesday: Color Poem

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Editor’s Note: This post has been written by Tonya Peterson, an English major at Lewis University. Tonya is interning with the Jet Fuel Review this semester and will be contributing blog posts periodically.

What if I asked to describe to me your color? The first thought would be ethnicity and the descriptions would be an array of stereotypical descriptions of skin color. It seems that color, in direction relation to people, is still synonymous with race.  Society defines us by our race and often times we find that definition expressed in that flat description of skin color. Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous phrase asks individuals to look beyond the color of skin and instead judge a person based on the “content of their character.” So when we take society’s convention of identifying people by race and juxtapose it against a color wheel, can the significance of color be lessened? Now I am not saying that race and racism are not significant issues, nor do I pretend to have a magical band-aid fix for society’s rush to judgment based on ethnicity and skin color; rather I am asking you to take a step back.

For this writing prompt, I am taking a step away from preconceived notions, stereotypes and judgments and instead picking colors — yes plural, colors — and painting myself in shades from the color wheel.  So, the first thing that needs to be done is name all the colors you know, every shade that means something to you or that has a connection to how you feel and who you are. Then pick as many colors as you like to define who you are and how you feel. Let your emotions find a vibrancy that is in colors. Grab a crayon box and let’s see how creative we can be when we are in charge of our own color.

green: emerald, jade, olive,                         red: cherry, crimson, burgundy

yellow: blonde, golden, dandelion,             orange: ginger, peach, apricot,

blue: indigo, cornflower, cerulean,             brown: burnt sienna, tree bark,

black: coal,  midnight                                     white: crystal, cotton, scrim, opaque

Here is the self-portrait I wrote using the whole spectrum of colors:

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Prompt Wednesday: Details

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Editor’s Note: this post has been written by Tonya Peterson, an English major at Lewis University. Tonya is interning with the Jet Fuel Review this semester and will be contributing blog posts periodically.

Rewriting with Detail

Ever read a preface to a novel and wonder what the story is all about? Are there details that are left out that are truly needed in order to gauge a specific setting? Here is a challenge for you. Take a story – any one you like; it can be your favorite or one in which you know the reader needs some assistance with detail. Then rewrite the setting in a way that would be much more specific and interesting.  This was an exercise done in my Fun with Fiction writer’s workshop that I took in fall 2010. The preface chosen for the writers was from a book from the Stephanie Meyers Twilight series. For copyright reasons I will not include the passage, but I will share with you all what I rewrote using detail for the scenery.  This is an excerpt from my flash fiction piece called “Trails.”

We followed the green exit sign off I-80 that pointed us towards the heavily wooded two lane road that lead to the state park’s main lodge. The parking lot was overflowing with the cars of travelers looking for the ultimate hiking experience at Starved Rock. We were lucky that we managed to find a spot for Jason’s jeep wrangler next to the minivan that blocked the light from the lamp post. Jason said it was a perfect spot to ditch the car; not spotlighting our escape.

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Prompt Wednesday: Flashback

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With graduation finally looming within grasp, I have been plagued with dreams that take me back to high school. Now for some, that was not so long ago but for me that was more than a decade ago and in my dreams there seems to be a problem. I get a call telling me that there was a mix-up with my classes and I have to repeat senior year all over again – in my thirties!

I know it’s just a dream but what if one morning you wake up back home and find you are seventeen all over again but you have all your memories for the past years of adulthood. Write the scene and describe the feeling of realizing you are a twenty- thirty- forty something stuck back in your seventeen year old self’s body. You are now under your parent’s rules once again. What would you do?

As for me…The alarm clock radio has lyrics from my favorite song streaming … every rose has it’s thorn just like every cowboy sings a sad – sad song and while I am reaching the snooze button, I can’t help but wonder when I switched on the eighties rock? I must have accidentally that genre on my iPhone last night before I put it in the dock.

How about you?

— Tonya Peterson, Editor

Prompt Wednesday: Owner for a Lost List

The list

Editor’s Note: this post has been written by Tonya Peterson, an English major at Lewis University. Tonya is interning with the Jet Fuel Review this semester and will be contributing blog posts periodically.

Today in Creative Writing Dr. Muench brought in a guest speaker from Northeastern University to demonstrate the art of bookmaking. Professor Kim Ambriz presented a multitude of chapbooks and book projects from various sources. There was one project that she presented from an undergraduate student that was fascinating to me. In this student’s book project was a found list and he wrote a few lines about who the author was and why they made the list.

So I thought for today’s writing prompt I would put my own spin on a “found” list. So here are the instructions: you walk out to your car parked in a crowded and poorly lit parking garage and before you open the door you notice the neon green list on the ground next to a neatly washed blue minivan (pretend it’s snowing in April). Write a little story centered around the items on this list and the author. Have fun!

My imaginary list owner’s story:   She grabs The List off the sticky pad and stuffs it into her black leather Prada purse and she was careful to carry her cherry red heels in her hands on her way to the garage. There was no way she was going to put scuff marks on the pristinely scrubbed linoleum floors.  She thought about the text she received this morning from her best friend. Melanie was bringing John as her date to the party tonight. Knowing that John could not keep his hands off a hot little bowl of salsa and blue tortilla chips, she headed to the grocery store to grab another dish for the party.

As she flipped the visor mirror she swatted at the few dull strands of brown hair that fell over her eyes. Auburn was going to be a good change her. So what if Melanie had natural auburn color with the perfect amount of sun bleached highlights, it only made her pale skin look washed out. She made a mental note to get the industrial sized bleach bottles. The morning after a party can be brutal to clean up all those forgotten stains on the counters and floors.

— Tonya Peterson, Editor

Prompt Wednesday: Write What You See



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Editor’s Note: this post has been written by Tonya Peterson, an English major at Lewis University. Tonya is interning with the Jet Fuel Review this semester and will be contributing blog posts periodically.

“Can a picture really be worth a 1,000 words?” It has been said many times over, and I myself have heard it plenty, but is it true? As a writer I pride myself on my ability to write what I see, but when looking at a picture often times words escape me and I find that the visual far out weights the verbal. I know, I know that is major blasphemy in the writing community. So let’s see if how well it can be done.

Take the simple picture to the right and see if you can create 1,000 words for it. It can be in any format you chose but the word count must be 1,000. Post your stories in the comment section and share your feedback with everyone! I’m going to try it and so should you!

—  Tonya Peterson, editor

A quick note about commenting: If you click the little number in the talk-balloon button at the top right of this entry, you can comment very easily on what you see here. We’d love to see some comments begin to pour in as that will help us grow our community!

The cento: I can write like my favorite poet!

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A quick note about commenting: If you click the little number in the talk-balloon button at the top right of this entry, you can comment very easily on what you see here. We’d love to see some comments begin to pour in as that will help us grow our community!

Editor’s Note: this post has been written by Tonya Peterson, an English major at Lewis University. Tonya is interning with the Jet Fuel Review this semester and will be contributing blog posts periodically.

A few years ago I would have never considered myself a poet. I could barely read and understand most poems let alone write one of any significance. I mean really, what more can I say about love or loss or nature or anything that has not already been written? And written by authors with a much better vocabulary than me! But poetry was going to plague me during my  college endeavors and so I thought I better learn to understand it if I was to have any chance of surviving the next two years as an English major. But how do I start creating – like so many have already? Then I recalled a statement by T.S. Eliot regarding literary “theft”:

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.”

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