Stanchions have many purposes and designs—to provide support, some of which are used to secure an area around a construction site; to provide temporary seating in military aircraft; and as bails in dairy barns to keep cows in place while they’re being milked.
They are also well-known for their use in crowd control, engineering the flow of people, and creating waiting lines—from the most basic to priority queues at airports and theme park rides.
It’s become a social metaphor, this stanchion known as the velvet rope.
The velvet rope makes its appearance at film premieres, award shows, and busy night clubs. It’s a visual and physical separation between those who are allowed access and those who are not. There’s a sense of privilege and allure to what lies behind the velvet rope. With that, it also serves as a metaphor for class separation between the haves and have-nots. Some view it as a representation of exclusivity reserved for the popular and the beautiful. To be invited behind the velvet rope is to be set apart.
Try It: Behind the Velvet Rope Poetry
What is it about this barrier that creates such a striking image for people? Although it can be portrayed as a polarizing and complicated picture of inequality, are there any positive attributes to the scene behind the velvet rope? Can a mysterious barrier represent something good? Write a poem about either side of this literal and symbolic gateway. On which side do you find yourself?
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Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here is a poem from Shannon we enjoyed:
Photo by Nerissa’s Ring. Creative Commons via Flickr.
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How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland
- Poetry Prompt: Misunderstood Lion - March 19, 2018
- Animate: Lions & Lambs Poetry Prompt - March 12, 2018
- Poetry Prompt: Behind the Velvet Rope - February 26, 2018
In the Glow
By the night-light glow
I see you holding the hem
Of the pink velvet dress
Worn by your lovey-doll
I watch, quiet,
as you slide the velvet
Along your rosebud mouth
And your apricot chin
The way you do
When sleep tugs
at your faded daisy pajama shirt
And your sparkle-eyes grow soft
Your breath hushes
like a bamboo rustle
The deeper, sleeping breath
My own breath slows
The velvet just resting now
Between your finger and thumb
I imagine you bring this softness
Into your dreams
I could quietly slide from your bed
But instead I stay
In the glow
This is all it is
This is everything
—by Shannon Mayhew