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Across the Ocean: Writing Prompt

This week, we are using today's poem (Eurydice by Ocean Vuong) as our inspiration.

The trick to this type of prompt is to make your piece so wildly different than the source material that a reader, including (in this case) Vuong himself, would have no idea that you used his poem as your jumping off point. This makes it quite different from writing that is blatantly a reaction to/parody of/homage to/study of another piece (this would include everything from Romeo and Juliet/West Side Story; "What the Dead Fear by Kim Addonizio/"What the Dead Fear More" by Ginger Adcock; "Pastime Paradise" by Stevie Wonder/"Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio/"Amish Paradise" by Weird Al Yankovic, and numerous retellings of stories from different perspectives (such as feminist) and/or minor characters (Wicked).

You certainly can do that with today's blog poem by creating a piece (and announcing it as After Ocean Vuong's "Eurydice" after your title), or you can try the prompt below and create a piece distinct from Eurydice (although, of course, you should still give him and his poem credit).

How do you get your piece completely different from Vuong's? Do not use the same imagery to start, so no Eurydice, frost, doe, garden, etc. But the key to this type of prompt is in revision. The more you revise away from the inspiration, the more your own images and ideas get into your piece. And if your piece ends up with none of the prompt components you started with--great! Prompts are meant to be inspiring, not legal contracts you are bound to!

Here are the components to put into your poem, painting, story, altered book, essay, etc. Try to use as many as possible and--more importantly--have fun!

A female from mythology

An animal that lives in the woods

Two distinct noises

How your voice sounds

A dead animal

Five verbs ending in -ing

Some type of bones

Two people

Something on which you listen to music

Two colors

Something imaginary

A public place

Two sets of opposites

A thought you had in the past




Explain what the dark can do

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