A Big Blog Emphasis on Poetry Production

Kelli Russell Agodon

Kelli Russell Agodon

New PR–444

Say a Sweet Good-Bye to Less than Mirrors

Dance while drunk
Put it on a balance beam of light
Forget the dismount
Forget wrathful

Remember the carnelian faithful
The obsidian wrought by fire by yellow
Flowers and by far you first must swear
You must like some sapphire swing low

And deep into a sea of doubt
Yes look out for and through
The blue sky of why to past know
(All the way to now and to grow)

But anoint then your sigh say a sweet
Good-bye to less than mirrors a shy
Welcome to the azure glow
Of a Christmas in Fresno


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:

“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”


Gentle Readers,
(Gentle Reader alert:; as you may recall I was hacked apparently and most of my posts went awol. I am gradually reintroducing them. This is one from 2013.)

This is mostly a poetry blog. It’s a Sufism blog, yes, but I believe Sufism is best expressed as poetry (certainly that has historically been so: see Rumi, Hafiz, Khayyam, Kabir, Saadi, etc). Also, poetry (especially our own) is the best access we have to the heart. And so here there will be a big blog emphasis on poetry production. It’s how I came to this website, and as already suggested in my beginning posts, there will often be encouragement for my readers to try their hand at writing poetry. And so there will be a lot of poetry commentary. Especially if, as is hoped, my readers wish to leave their own poems in the comment section–the part of the blog readers have access to. This is especially urged if readers find their own poem supports or comments upon the subject of the blog post, as these issues won’t all deal with poetry production, but also reams of other Sufi themes.

But as you may have guessed, today’s post will deal with poetry production. It was not the original plan but I follow the blog, Book of Kells, by the poet Kelli Russell Agodon. And the other day she published a “poetry prompt” (a springboard to use for beginning a poem). So, since I am pushing poetry production, I thought why don’t I do as I say, and follow Kelli’s instructions and see what pops up (poem-wise). Might thereby hang a tale. So I gave her instructions a shot. To save you researching Kelli’s–albeit recent–archives, I include here the instructions, and what I did with them. (The final product being the poem at the top)

(To follow Kelli’s blog : http://ofkells.blogspot.com/)

The Over-Achiever Muse–

Writing Exercise for Poets-
1. Make a list of twenty words

2. Add a place, a proper noun, the name of person, a planet and a color

Now look at your words and pair them up by sound the best you can (use half/slant rhyme, for example: greed could go near underneath, and futility could go with vanilla pie)

Begin writing in the form of a poem (use line and stanza breaks, not just a “free write”) and picking up your words in order so the words that sound similar are near each other in the poem.

Try to use as many sets of words as possible and feel free to bring in new words with similar sounds to complete your poem.

Revise, revise, revise.

(End of Kelli’s prompt)

In addition to my word list below, I had a mental flash of these words, which I decided to start the poem with:
Dance while drunk
Put it on a balance beam of light

I often, perhaps usually, start off a poem with a clutch of words that for some reason have come to me. And in a way that defies description, with practice (One of the very best reasons for much practice) I have come to recognize something about it though I don’t know why I recognize it. I guess it’s akin to how my cat knows me in the dark. It’s as if an angel (read muse) is whispering an idea in my ear. It’s amazing the high percentage of these angel-generated “prompts” that result in a satisfying poem. (Just another proof of the value of faith, I expect.) Aside from the first two lines, then, I decided on this word list:

good bye

As I say, see the top for the resulting poem.

This isn’t quite the first time I’ve written a poem this way. When I was a first grade teacher, at Christmastime, I wanted both to introduce the children to poetry writing as well as have something to present as a group at the Christmas assembly. So I asked the children to suggest thirty or so words which I put on the blackboard. And on the spot I made up this poem, using the children’s words:

New New PR–1

The Party for Santa Claus

Crybaby Pig wore a purple hat
To the party for Santa Claus
The Red Nosed Reindeer was gone
(He stole a cookie from the rhinoceros)
Little Bo Peep’s sheep were at large
(They’d run off to join the circus)
But the little girl leprechaun
Rode in on a black shiny cat
How about that?

The class very much enjoyed reciting their poem to the school’s Christmas Assembly.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

PS–I should probably advise my readers that normally they will understand my poems more. Perhaps because of the nature of pushing to go in certain directions, I kind of soared into a headwind of extravagant imagery. But still, it felt satisfying almost as if I’d gotten stuff off my chest.

PPS–You will on this website tend to notice strange codes above poems (as in today’s, “New PR–444” and “New New PR–1”) The reason for this is I have written thousands of poems, divided up into groups of five hundredish, with titles like PR, or New PR and finally it has settled into PR3, 4, 5, and on upward. The reason for the PR is embarrassing and so will go unexplained. But also the codes are handy if anyone wishes to comment, say in re poem pr–333 (etc), I think thus and so. So thus they don’t have to keep remembering and/or keying in titles.

About Eric Halliwell

I am the creator and sustainer of rumi-nations.com, a website which features (among a few other things, like interesting and inspiring quotes, and Sufi stories) my poetry and illustrative blog posts, about one 1000 word essay a month. It is Sufi-themed, probably because for seven years I was an officially initiated Sufi mureed, in San Francisco circa 1970’s. My poetry has appeared in these publications: Penwood Review, Ascent Aspirations, Umbrella Journal, wordcatalyst.com (since defunct), Shine Journal, Ashé Journal, Berkeley Poetry Review, and Tipton Poetry Journal. I can be reached at estlin3@yahoo.com.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Rachmaninoff’s Huge Hands* | rumi-nations... poetry

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