Monday 25 April 2011

In that kitchen, a writing exercise (NaPoWriMo, day 25)

Three days of NaPoWriMo, I've begun anew an exercise I came across in a listserv's archives: Begin with "In that kitchen," continuing writing until you're stuck, and when you reach that wall, write "In that kitchen" again and continue accordingly for 10-15 minutes; this becomes the first draft of a prose poem. In my three pieces, the kitchen is always the kitchen at 220 Arlington Drive, Normal, Illinois, the kitchen I knew as my family's from the age of five, the kitchen I may not see again if the house is sold soon. I was surprised to feel how much a kitchen can be the axis of a family; I suppose ours especially, as it was connected to the garage on one side and was open to the dining room on the other. For those struggling with coming up with a poem a day, I strongly recommend the exercise and urge people to try it with the kitchen they knew in childhood: it's amazing what strands of relationships, family, place, and development arise and mingle.


  1. Linda Black10:24 pm

    Hi Carrie, just given it a go - something to return to I think. I thought I'd out-written my family stuff -and I haven't written a prose poem for some time. Have to admit to losing motivation in the last few days so I need a different approach - more of an objective starting point I think. The value though is in actively thinking about/ engaging with writing which NaPoWriMo makes me do.Back to work tomorrow unfortunately but will try and see the month out.

  2. This is a brilliant idea. I think I'll give it a try - I was thinking that I didn't have many important memories from kitchens but as soon as I thought that, of course, they all returned.


  3. Thanks for That kitchen, Carrie. I'm still well behind with my April poems (owning up to some 27, I believe) but have "just" managed my own In that kitchen, plus a reactive poem 'In THIS kitchen', and one 'In the living room.' I fear my standards have slipped a lot since the month began but, hey, at least it's writing of sorts.

  4. Anonymous9:46 am

    great exercise Carrie, thank you ...might keep this one for my assignment. So line breaks or no line breaks ?
    Susan Rouchard (poetry school)

  5. It's prose poetry, so no line breaks and a justified right margin (as with other forms of prose). Enjoy!