Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing About Things

I received this poem today as part of the poem-a-day initiative by
The Things

When I walk in my house I see pictures,
bought long ago, framed and hanging
—de Kooning, Arp, Laurencin, Henry Moore—
that I've cherished and stared at for years,
yet my eyes keep returning to the masters
of the trivial—a white stone perfectly round,
tiny lead models of baseball players, a cowbell,
a broken great-grandmother's rocker,
a dead dog's toy—valueless, unforgettable
detritus that my children will throw away
as I did my mother's souvenirs of trips
with my dead father, Kodaks of kittens,
and bundles of cards from her mother Kate.

I loved this poem immediately. It speaks to the power of things – something I have been thinking about a lot since my mother-in-law died last year, and we had to sort through her things. And then I wonder about my things – what has meaning for me, only because I know the story behind it? How many of her things did we throw out because they had no meaning for me or my husband, and which did we decide to keep which perhaps had very little meaning to her?
Hall’s poem captures exactly this, something I would have to write a whole essay about. Speaking of, here’s a good writing exercise that might inspire you to put together a lyrical essay, or even a poem:
-          Pick three items from one spot in your home and write about each of them. What is the story of each object, and why are they found in that particular spot in your home? Is there a connection between the objects? Can you discover a theme?


  1. I was needing a writing exercise for tomorrow, and this one looks like a good one, so thanks very much.

  2. So did you come up with something workable, Nancy?