Saturday, November 6, 2010

Imaginings: A "Book of Questions"-Inspired Poem

I'm currently teaching my students to use "mentor poems" to try out writing poetry. The idea is that you select a poem whose structure, style, and/ or approach you admire, and then you rewrite the content, mimicking the poet's style/structure/approach. It's an ideal approach to poetry for those of us who are a bit gun-shy about poetry-writing because it allows the writer the comfort of a tried and true form and just leaves the challenge of coming up with content. 

I chose Pablo Neruda's "The Book of Questions" for inspiration because I admire his ability to conjure completely unique images in his readers' minds with seemingly simple, yet really beautiful questions. One of my favorite lines from his poem is "Tell me, is the rose naked/or is that her only dress?"

Here's what I came up with...

When will apricots learn that it takes
                  more muscles to frown than it does to smile?

Do mopeds know that the world is
                 a wide and vast place?

If we forget to remember the clouds,
                 will they pout?

Is there anything more precious than tripping
                 on the uneven ground of a cobblestone street?

How often to bedbugs
                 bite off pieces of the moon?

Why are people always
                 unfaithful to daisies?

Why does the aspen tree wake up
                 so early in the morning?

Where should we store our broken hearts
                 if not from southern tree limbs?

Is there anything more tragic
                than a dancing catfish?


  1. Lovely poem! My favorite line is the moped line!
    Neruda's the One. Did you ever read Burning Patience, by Antonio Skarmeta? (Did I already tell you about that book?) The movie Il Postino was based on it--remember, a lad who delivers mail to Pablo Neruda . . . The book is darn good.

  2. I have not, and Il Postino has been in my Netflix queue for years now! I'll have to check it out...