This poetry writing prompt submitted by Bill Mohr:
I recently posted an entry on my blog about one of James Wright’s best known poems, “Lying on a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota.” Towards the end of the post, I suggested that readers “revise” the poem by typing out a version in which the first person pronoun is deleted from all but the final line of the poem.
To build on this exercise in tamping down any poem’s self-assertiveness, I would suggest starting with a draft of a poem in which the first person pronoun or one of its variants appears in every other line of the poem. Each couplet should focus on a particular sense (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste) and the first draft must include at least one couplet foregrounding one of the senses. Whatever you retain of the subsequent drafts should then erase the first person and revise the sentences in the poem so that only concrete nouns are in the subject position. While there are certainly advantages to featuring concrete nouns at the end of lines of poetry (the final word being the most important word in the line’s enjambment), it is all too easy to overlook the noun in the subject position of the poem’s sentence. Let it not be an invocation of your self-centeredness until you have earned it. Even in the final line, be as reticent as possible.
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.