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Create a Distance from Tragedy: Poetry Prompt

Today's poem, "In the ER at 1 AM" by Mary Hanarhan, relates a tragic event in first person. It is a heart-breaking poem, and although we cannot all relate to the circumstances of the tragedy, we can all relate to the deep pain experienced and conveyed by the poem's speaker.

This week's prompt asks you to recall a devastating event in your own life. You can, and should, once you begin writing, change whatever details you wish to change; poetry is not nonfiction. Whether or not something actually happened "this way" does not matter to the truthfulness or the power of poetry.

We will also go a step further. In order to create more distance, and to allow you to experience a different perspective, write your poem as the friend of the person the tragic event happened to. Step outside the experience and see it from the outside.

Use your poem's speaker--the "I" in the poem--to observe, question, clarify, attempt to understand, sympathize, get angry, mourn, try and find hope, etc. Although you should not expect this, this prompt may increase your own comprehension of the episode you experienced and are writing about.

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