Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Creative Writing Prompt #4

A few days ago, National Public Radio reported that a delivery truck, which was carrying a popular brand of potato chips, was stolen. When the truck was recovered a short time later, twenty-two bags of potato chips had already been eaten.

Imagine the overwhelming feeling (hunger? desire? Insatiable whatever it was!) that overtook him. That is passion! That chip thief's furious feast depicts a moment of human/animal wildness that fills us with an upwelling of unstoppable song.

Mary Oliver writes about such moments. Consider her poem, "Honey At The Table":

It fills you with the soft
essence of vanished flowers, it becomes
a trickle sharp as a hair that you follow
from the honey pot over the table
and out the door and over the ground,and all the while it thickens,
grows deeper and wilder, edged
with pine boughs and wet boulders,
pawprints of bobcat and bear, until
deep in the forest you
shuffle up some tree, you rip the bark,
you float into and swallow the dripping combs,
bits of the tree, crushed bees - - - a taste
composed of everything lost, in which everything lost is found.

Describe the thing that makes you uncontrollably wild. Perhaps, you too are inspired by twinkies, ho ho's or potato chips; perhaps (hopefully) you are enraptured by something with less hydrogenated fats. In any case, whatever wakes the animal-hunger in you is most likely an intrguing poem waiting to happen.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Creative Writing Prompt #3

Writers are not the most practical of people. I often find myself reading essays or listening to discussions about being "productive," or doing something because it is "useful" or promotes "progress;" these words, as usually defined, are a bit alien to my daily lexicon. For instance, most writers I know would consider a "productive" day one spent staring at a blank wall in contemplative revelry. "Usefulness" can be interpreted in equally confounding ways: my grandma uses the elastic waistbands from 30-year-old BVDs to hold boxes closed. While he was a student, my partner worked each morning helping a retired farmer complete great feats of usefulness: he would spend hours on end making twine balls with miscellaneous pieces of twine. Re-using and recycling is honorable; however, considering the farmer was paying him, the ball of twine probably cost 10 times what it did at the local hardware store by the time he finished tying it.

Study an implicit code that you or someone you know lives by. Notice the differences in the way an abstraction like "progress" or "good" or "beautiful" can be defined. This topic has the potential for humor, as well as a new glimpse at the broad variations of our human understanding of value.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

What's In It For Me?

There have been two or three publishing agreements waiting for me each day when I return home from work, and it's been great fun seeing our next issue gradually coming together.

One contributor sent these orange slices along with the agreement, and I must say it was a sweet surprise. I'm pretty sure Heather's health-conscious diet doesn't include allotments for items with modified food starch, yellow#6 and red#40. So these sucrose-laden babies are all for me.

I want to make it clear, lest gets a whiff of this: I do not take bribes. I will not publish the work of just anyone who sends me sugar. But I admit I'm always looking to new writing for what it can give me. I want to walk away from a story knowing something different about how people think and act and work. Ellen Bryant Voigt once explained to me that stories show us all the ways we're different and poems show us all the ways we're alike. Yes, teach me that.

I've eaten a few too many of these tonight, and I probably won't be able to sleep. Good writing does that to me too. That's why I love doing this. That's why I hope you'll keep reading. I'm excited about our forthcoming writers. Stay tuned. Let us surprise you.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Creative Prompt #2

Sometimes it is helpful to look at the world upside down. This week, Scientologists revealed some of their tools for building "super powers" of perception. Some of the tools included an anti-gravity simulator and a gyroscope. Yoga practitioners do inversions--headstands, handstands, shoulderstands--to facilitate balance in the body systems and energy levels. Babies and children love to swing upside down. One of the first things students learn in art class is to look at something and then draw it upside down; the exercise challenges you to look and see (really see) the lines and angles of something as it IS instead of as you expect it to be. Flipping your world around can not only feel good (think back to the last time you rolled down a grassy hill: bliss, pure and simple) but it can also enhance your powers of perception and make you see things in a new, more vivid way.

Try to turn your world upside down; it doesn't have to include gyroscopes or a trapeze--maybe straying from your normal routine and sitting on a beach somewhere is enough. If you're lucky, a poem or story is lurking underneath the experience; watch (really watch) and notice the lines, angles, various shades and tones of the experience, and then tug the poem or story to the surface.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Attention Artists and Photographers

Blood Orange Review is currently seeking artwork and photography for the upcoming issue. Please submit your art. Send artwork as an email attachment (jpeg format, preferably) to