April 18, 2024: Poetry Writing Prompt from James Penha

This poetry writing prompt submitted by James Penha:

Our Hands

Decades ago I watched on TV Sharon Olds at a Dodge Poetry Festival—a Bill Moyers show maybe run a workshop exercise:

Look at your hand. Did she specify right or dominant? Can’t recall; doesn’t matter; I’m paraphrasing from memory. Really look at it. Notice the graph of its fingers, knuckles. Look at both sides. Study the lines a fortune teller would study. She pauses for us. Now think about where this hand has been… whom it has touched… where… where. She pauses. Think back to the kinds of chores and work this hand has done. Hammering? Cooking?Writing? She pauses. Has this hand been in pain? In ecstasy? In embarrassment? Pause. You certainly by now have images of your hand you will continue to see as you close your eyes. Close your eyes. Peruse those images. Pick one or more you’d like to write about… or, when you open your eyes, just describe your hand.

We write. I stole that exercise and wrote dozens of hand poems and stories with my students over many years of teaching. And here in “My Hand,” in her newest book, Sharon Olds writes, “When I look at my hand…” Like mine, Olds’ hand is old and wrinkled and bulging with veins, but touching and lucky and pretty and very fitting.

Oh, how long we have exercised these hands.

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.

#napowrimo #poetry

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