No month stresses me out like September. It is a month of hefty transitions. No more bathing suits and beach towels hanging out to dry on the deck. No more after-lunch bike rides around town with no particular place in mind. No more fireflies.
September brings with it words like “procedures,” “schedules,” and “syllabus.” September means packing lunches, learning bus routes, and sitting in carpool lines.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the sharpened number 2 pencils. I’ll take that giant stack of graphing paper, and I’ll inhale deeply the scent of a book yet to be read. I’d simply like to skip over the part where I have to say, “So long,” to summer because it takes at least thirty days to do it. Or maybe I simply feel the goodbye for that long.
But October is a different story. October is bright and crisp. The foliage (at least up north) changes. Fall arrives. In October we are used to the schedule, we’ve crossed a few items off the syllabus, and procedures might not be kindred spirits, but they’re reliable pals we’ve come to admire.
It is in October when the sting of a summer gone lessens and with it, a willingness — dare I write pleasant anticipation — to see what can be done with this cold, bright, weather. What can be done with these learned concepts and skills, these beginning friendships?
The only trouble there is with October is writing about it. It’s like trying to write about a sunrise or a sunset or a just-poured cup of coffee. October, as fresh and beautiful as it is, lends itself to cliche. The trick, then, is to do the work of figuring out another way to see and describe all the loveliness October brings. I suggest “As In” poems.
“As In” poets take the definition of a word and turn that definition into prose. Then the poet invites the reader into her experience with that word, beginning with “as in.” I learned about “As In” poetry after reading Kwame Alexander’s book, The Crossover. Here’s an example:
Make a list of everything you think of when you think of October, fall, or foliage. Take one of those words and look up the definition. Then create an “As In” poem.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s a poem we enjoyed from Sandra Heska King:
when x is unknown
ours is not to reason y
just get x alone
—Sandra Heska King
This is a book about being a teacher, and about being a mother, and, in its way, about being a writer. But it is most fully a depiction of living with a work of literature, about the conversations literature can spark and the memories literature can hold and reconfigure. The acknowledgments suggest that writing this book helped Callie Feyen remember why she loved teaching. Reading it made me remember why I love to read. —Lauren Winner, bestselling author and Associate Professor, Duke Divinity School
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