CALLIOPE'S CLOSET: Muse Wrangling




Ideas to Rummage Through While You 
Wait for the Muse

Calliope, Muse of Eloquence

You fail only if you stop writing.
 —Ray Bradbury
 
 


Here are a few ways to jump-start your writing when the Muse has Gone Missing:
 

Maybe "Lean" on a Challenge. MK provides: 
 
•••MK Seed of the Week: Every Tuesday we offer an idea to get your writing started; each week's SOW is listed in the green bar at the right. See below for past SOWs—or make up your own list or package of clippings for a rainy day. Or make a list of prompts to exchange with a poetry friend. And don't be shy about sending Medusa your SOW ideas!
•••MK Form Fiddlers' Friday includes the Triple-F Challenge (form/s) and the Ekphrastic Challenge. Get your blood pumping by trying a poetry form of some sort! There are those who think forms are archaic; still, they make great exercise—kind of like push-ups—even if you never publish any of them. They tune your ear to the shape and music of poetry. [See also our "Medusa Mulls" link.]
•••There are quite a few other websites that offer such prompts, such as Writer's Digest (www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides), Poets & Writers (www.pw.org/writing-prompts-exercises) and bi-weekly Ekphrastic challenges from The Ekphrastic Review (www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic-writing-challenges?fbclid=IwAR0_0QzlvYKSIZJsWtfsXyc4bBKY5edsU0PdcQty8tVkfTqK1WzPbjVhD8E/.
 
 
OTHER APPROACHES:
 
•••Make yourself a list of possible first and last lines of a poem.
•••Start a journal of visuals: photos, cartoons, graphics that might inspire a poem someday.
•••See if you can "find" a poem in the newspaper, a magazine, TV, etc.: snippets of this-and-that which seem to fit together, maybe, or otherwise inspire a poem.
•••Write a poem using one of the senses that you always seem to forget to include in your poetry.
•••Base a poem on a color: yellow? gold? silver? Or an animal, or an emotion, or... well, you get it. Hey—how about the MK Word of the Day?
•••Read, read, read, in print or online. Other poets can be great inspiration—either good poets or bad ones! Build on their ideas; contradict them; let them be some sort of springboard. And the same goes for attending readings. Take advantage of all the poetry in our community/world to kickstart your own Muse!
•••Consider a workshop, either on-going or a single event, formal or just a group of friends. If you can't find one you like, start one!—even with friends online. 
       I attended SPC’s Tuesday Night Workshop religiously for many years, working on my own poetry and staying connected to a community which would support and inspire both my work and the massive publishing effort I was immersed in. (I’m always proud to say that the workshop facilitator, Danyen Powell's, fine first chapbook, Anvil, was the first chapbook published by Rattlesnake Press in 2004 as the beginning of our Rattlechaps Series.) And that community was huge for me, and some of the people I met there have remained my friends to this day. We residents of this community are so fortunate to be able to make such connections with our poetry. So think about it. There are several workshops and lots of readings around here and, I hope, in your area, too. Check ‘em out! They can be a great spur when your Muse is missing.
•••Splurge and buy yourself the world's best thesaurus: Roget's Int'l Thesaurus from HarperCollins, ed. by Barbara Ann Kipfer; Rbt. L. Chapman, Consulting Ed. ISBN 0-06-018575-9. Or maybe ask Santa... Just leafing through a thesaurus, or looking at all the many synonyms for any word, is wonderful inspiration!
•••Argument/debate/dueling poems: two poems (or one) with contradictory ideas
•••Poetic Left-overs (good ideas that didn’t quite fit into other poems)
•••Poems in the form of questions 
•••Poems in the form of lists (List Poems)
•••Describe what the subject is without actually naming it
•••Mary Oliver quote: “Here you are—alive. Would you like to make a comment?”
•••Condense a famous poem into an epigram/couplet. What is this poem really saying?
•••Write a poem that has no adjectives, or no verbs
•••Senyru by Sandoka: A lone figure/back turned/receding into the mist. Care to elaborate? Or "condense"?
•••Tell a story using just six words (five words, etc. One?)
•••Make up your own prompts when the Muse is visiting; save some for a rainy day
•••Let yourself wander; see The Art of Wandering for Writers & Business Artists: Tracking Wonder at trackingwonder.com/art-wandering-writers-business-artists
 
 
Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. 
Not waiting for inspiration's shove 
or society's kiss on your forehead. 
Pay attention.  
It's all about paying attention. 
Attention is vitality. 
It connects you with others. 
It makes you eager. Stay eager.

―Susan Sontag 
 [Some words darkened by kk]
 


Polyhymnia, 
Muse of Sacred Poetry, Hymn, Eloquence 
by Francesco del Cossa
 
(Here she is, the slippery devil!)
 


PAST MK SOWs: It's Never Too Late to Have At 'Em!
 

SOME SAMPLE EKPHRASTIC SUBJECTS (PHOTOS/ART):


abandoned stairs by Robin Gale Odam
abandoned barn
sketch of person in hammock by Steph Schaefer
“tired dog” photo from Steve Williams
eggs in nest
electric egg beater
empty nest
playhouse
keys on a ring
fire-watch station in the mountains
hat hanging on hatrack
stack of hats
acorn
sand castle
magic lantern
lighthouse
ice/heart/fire
knot
target
leaky boat
park bench by D.R. Wagner
steps by Janet Pantoja
Magritte's Les Amants (The Lovers) 
Statue of Liberty w/fireworks
woman with fan
ice cream scoop
cabin in the woods
 
 
 

A lovely little summary of poetry writing
that I found online~
(Click to En-Biggen)



PAST SOW TOPICS WE'VE USED IN MK OVER THE YEARS (Yes, I'm pretty sure this is every one of them! Every week I add the most recent one to the list.):


Abandonment
A car passes on a rainy street...
A cat was standing...
A Day Late, A Dollar Short
According to Science
A Fool's Errand
Afraid of Sunflowers
After Labor Day
After Midnight
After the Fire
After the Rain
Air We Breathe, The 
Alleys at Midnight
All Five Senses
All I Want For Christmas...
All Those Books
A New Day
Ants
Apples
A Shadow of Dread
A Burst of Crows
Amber Mornings
Angels
Antebellum Ladies' Nudist Society, The
April
Are We Going the Way of the Rapa Nui?
Are We There Yet?
Art of Listening, The
Art of Losing, The
Art of Swimming, The
Asleep at the Wheel
A Touch of Color
At the Bus Stop
At the Fair
At the Movies
At the Pawnshop
Autumn
Autumn/crows
Autumn Leaves
Autumn Sounds
Babies
Bacon and Eggs
Barns
Beachin'
Back to Work
Beauty in Unexpected Places
Before We Had Air-conditioning...
Behind Closed Doors
Best Friends
Best Gears of my Life
Best Gifts, The
Best Job Ever, The
Betrayal
Better Days
Beyond the Trappings
Big Red, Juicy Tomatoes
Birds and the Bees, The
Birdsong
Birthdays
Birthplace Revisited
Black Holes
Blessings of the Season
Blood Moon
Blue
Blue Silk
Blue Sky, White Clouds 
Bored
Bravery Is...
Bridges
Broken
Broken Promises
Brotherhood
Bubbles
Burdens
Bus Ride to Hell
Butterfly From Cocoon
Buttons
By the Sea
Cages
Call It Sorrow
Camouflage
Candlelight
Candy Store
Catching My Breath
Cats
Caught by Surprise
Celebration!
Challenges of Breeding, The
Chaos
Cherry Blossom Time
Chocolate and Other Addictions
Christmas Bells 
Christmas List
Circus
City
City of Trees
Cleaning Out My Closet
Cliffhangers
Clowns
Cobwebs
Cobwebs and Candlewax
Coffee and Doughnuts
Colors of Autumn
Coming Home
Conjuring
Consulting the Oracle
Cool Mountain Lakes
Cosmic Kerfuffles
County Fair
Country Roads
Couples
Creation
Creekside
Curious Journeys
Dad
Dads
Daffodils
Dancing!
Danger! Explosives!
Dark Moments
Dark Shadows
Darkest Days
Dawn Chorus
Dead End
Dear Diary
Death of Spring, The
Death of Winter, The
December
Deep in the Woods
Desert
Detours
Devils That Chase Us
Diamonds in the Grass
Did Curiosity Kill the Cat?
Discoveries
Dogs
Down in the Cellar
Down the Cellar Stairs
Down the Drain
Dragon's Breath
Dream of Being Elsewhere, The
Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
Dry Leaves Underfoot
Eagle's Cry, The
Early in the Morning
Edge of Night, The
Eggs
Empty Boxes
Empty Nests
Empty Room
Empty Suitcase, An
Endangered Species 
Endings
End of Summer Dreams
Enemies
Enough
Escape
Essentials
Everyday Daemons
Excuse For Not Writing
Expeditions
Experiments That Failed
Exploding Paint Cans
Eyes
Fair Winds and Following Seas
Falling
Family Album
Family Dinners
Fathers
Feathers
Finally, Spring
Fire!
First Daffodil, The
First Flight
First Rain
Firsts
Fish Pond in Moonlight
Fishing
Fleeting Moments
Flowers in the Trash
Flowers Were Delivered To Me Today
Flying
Food
Forbidden Fruit
Forgotten Treasures
"Found" poem form 
Frazzled
Freedom
Friendship
Friends Who've Lost Touch
Frontiers
Fruits of the Earth
Frustration
Games
Ghosts
Gifts
Ginger
Gratitude
Great Escape
Green 
Guardian Angels
Halloween
Ham-of-the-Month Club
Happy Holidays?
Hard Labor
Harvest
Hats 
Healing
Heart Once Broken
Heat Wave
Hibernation
Hidden in Plain Sight 
Hills to Climb
Home Cookin'
Hope
Hotter'n Hell
Household Pals
House of Cards
How We Met 
Hunting Treasure
I Burned My Life
Ice
If I could have just one thing...
If I could write a poem...
Impatience
Indiscreet
In Gathering Shade
In My Dream
Insolence I Have Known
In the Back of the Closet...
In the Drawers of Old Desks
In the Flower Shoppe
In the Garden, In Her Bonnet
In the Hollow of Night
In This Brutal Heat...
Invisible
I Remember Rain
I saw in the news...
Isolation
It All Started…
Jack Frost
Jelly Beans
Joy/Light/Hope
Junk Shop
Keepers of Secrets
Keepsakes
Key, The
Kindness
Laces of Fog
Lady Luck
La Golondrina
Language of Stones, The
Last Ghost of Summer, The
Last Rose, The 
Launch, The
Leaves of Change
Letter You’ll Never Send
Liberty
Libraries 
Lies
Light
Like a bad movie...
Like an Addiction
Little Cabin in the Woods
Little Monsters
Local Landscapes
Locks
Loneliness
Lonely Old Apartments
Lonesome
Loss
Lost
Lost Hour, The
Lost in Joy
Lost Keys
Love
Love Week
Lunacy
Luscious
Marooned
Masks
Masks and Other Guises
May Day
Mementoes
Memories I Can't Shake 
Memories That Sting
Mermaids
Message in a Bottle
Midnight
Midnight at the Oasis
Missing
Mix-Ups
Mom
Moms
Money
Monsters
Moon Gardens
More Than He Could Chew
Morning After the Night Before
Mothering, For Better or For Worse 
Mothers
Mountains and Molehills
Movin' On
Murmurous
Museum of My Life
Music
My Autobiography
My Camera Sees...
My Favorite Fish
My Favorite Painkiller
My Favorite Shirt
My Favorite Sin
My Favorite Sport
My Favorite Teachers 
My Friend, the Darkness
My Life as a Poet
My Misspent Youth
My Mother's Voice
My Secret Garden
Mysteries
Mysteries of December
Mysteries of Spring
My Tackle Box
My Three Follies
My Very First Broken Heart
Naked Truth, The
Nesting
New Beginnings 
New Normal, The
New Shoes
New Soil
Night is a Cup of Evil, The
Night Sounds
Nonsense
North Wind, The
No Tell Mo-Tel
November Treasures
Obsessions, Sweet and Otherwise
Odyssey
Off the Beaten Path
Oh, Those Appetites!
Old Anguish, The
Old Shoes
Opening Skies
Ornery
One That Got Away
On the Road
On This Planet of Ours...
One Square Inch of Silence
One Step Ahead of the Sheriff
Open Doors
Opening the Window 
Orange
Our Feathered Friends
Out of the Ashes
Out of Your Rut (Experimental)
Outrageous!
Overwhelmed
Painting
Pals
Paperwork
Parades
Paradise
Parched
Pawnshop
Payday
Peace
Peach
Perfect Gift, The
Perfect Storm, The
Pockets
Poems of the [Holiday] Season
Poem Starting With a Mustard Colored Car
Poetry
Poetry of the Overlooked
Poet's Tools, A
Politics
Poppies, Robins, and Other Signs of Spring
Porches
Puppies
Quick Fixes
Quicksand
Quilt
Railroad Tracks
Rain
Rainbows
Rainy Forest Road at Midnight
Rebirth
Reboot, Restore, Renew
Red
Regifting
Relentless
Remembering July 4
Renewal: Solvings, Turnings, Wakings
Rescue 
RHS (Restless Heart Syndrome)
Rivers of Doubt
Roots
Roses in the Snow
Santa Cruz
Scents
Scrapbook
Sea-Dreaming
Secret Admirer 
Secrets in the Pines
Second Chances
Secret Gardens & Other Enchanted Places
Secrets in the Attic
Secrets in the Fog
Seeds
Seedy Motels
Self-Deceptions
Self-Portrait
Seven Deadly Virtues
Sex
Shadows of September
Shadows on a Summer's Eve
Sheer Poetry
Shelter
She's Nesting! 
Shopping
Shop 'Til You Drop
Shorter Days, Longer Nights
Siblings
Signs of Spring
Silence
Silk Stockings
Sisyphus
Six More Weeks of Winter
Six Perfect Snowflakes
Skydiving Without a Parachute
Skyward
Sleep
Sleepless Nights
Slow Dawns and Early Sunsets
Small Joys
Small Mercies
Smoke
So Mad I Could...
Something Like Contentment
Songs of the City
Sorcery
Sounds of Children, The
Spare Time
Speed Dating
Spells
Spring Chickens
Spring Fever
Squid
Starting Fresh
Still Water
Stolen Days 
Stories of the Full Moon
Strangers on a Train
Stress Relief
Stuck
Sudden Heat
Suddenly
Summer
Summer Rain
Summer's End 
Summer's Heat
Sun
Sure Signs of Spring
Surprise
Sweet Dreams 
Taking the Plunge
Telephone Rang, The
Tenderness
Thanksgiving
That Big Bear of a Man
That Special Gift
That Woman Selling Carnations
These Fragile Young
Thief, The
Things I Can't Stand
Things I Have Forgotten 
Things I Should Be Grateful For But Am Not
Things We Keep, Things We Leave Behind
Things We’re Afraid to Write About
Things Without Names
This Fragile Earth
This Hallowed Earth
This Infernal Heat
This is Me...
This Murky Pond 
Those Good Old Days
Those Infernal Machines
Those Naughty Elves
Through the Back Door of the Castle
Through the Open Window...
Time
Tiny Moments of Great Joy
Tomorrow
Tongue-Twisters/Alliteration 
Too Close to the Sun
Too Rushed For My Own Good
Topsy-Turvy
Toy Box, The
Traces
Traps
Trash to Treasure 
Treasures
Trees
Tricks, Treats and Treasures
Trikes and Bikes
Troll Who Lives Under My Desk, The
Trunk in the Attic, The
Tumble of Years, The
Turkeys
Turning of the Year, The
Turning the Key
Twilight
Under the Boardwalk
Under the Mighty Oak
Unexpected Joy
Unexpected Pleasures
Unraveling
Unwanted Guests
Voyages
Wages of Sin
Waiting
Waiting For Daylight
Walking Through Walls
Walls
Watchers, The
Watch Where You Swim
Water
Waves
Wearing the Pants
Weather Report
Weeds
We tried hard not to look into the black water, where there might not even be monsters.
What a Circus!
Whatever Suits Your Pen
What My Camera Sees
What Remains
What These Rocks Have Seen
When All Else Fails
When Cats Disappear
When Dad and I...
When the Fog Lifts
When the Muse Draws a Blank...
Where the Wild Goose Goes
Where There's Smoke...
White Cat in the Alley 
White Horse in Green Pastures
White Page of Silence
Why?
Wildfire
Wild Horses
Wild Winds and Cheeky Breezes
Wilted White Chrysanthemums
Windows
Window Shopping
Winds of Change
Wings
Winter in the Woods
Wishes
Witchcraft
Wolf at the Door
Woman With a Cat
Women
Workshops
Worry 
Wrath
Wrong Decisions
Yellow
You Will Need the Witch's Cabin Key

______________________

So—if this doesn't get you started, do something else, maybe something that involves coffee and chocolate. Some things just need time, yes?




Good Luck!
—Public Domain Illustration