25 January 2012

Beneath the Roar of the Grinder...

PROMPT: A sound and the emotional response it calls forth in the writer. The sound I chose was a coffee grinder, but others may work better for you--a tea kettle whistling, an alarm clock or clock chime, a train whistle, footsteps on stairs or a sidewalk, a knock on a door, a dripping faucet or hose, splashing in a pool, rain. I usually suggest several but allow writers to choose one of their own. Or you could go around the writing table and ask each person to contribute one to create a list of sounds all can draw from. Write in the direction of uncovering something new about yourself; see if a metaphoric quality emerges. Concentration on one of the senses may make you more aware of other sensory data as you write. For instance, my example begins with sound but appeals to sight, taste, smell and feeling as well. My title also serves double-duty as first line of the poem, but it's not necessary for yours to do that.

Beneath the Roar of the Grinder…

Beneath the shoosh
     and splutter
          of scalded
               spit-out water…

Beneath the
     schmush of the scoop
          like the child’s
               tin-painted shovel in sand…

Is the coffee 
dark and bitter
like me:

Pressed from a hard shell.
Perfume of first light.


  1. Susan,

    This afternoon, we read Pat Schneider's poem, "Sound of the Night Train," and then wrote about a sound. I offered several examples, some from your list, and invited people to choose one of their own. Outstanding writing. The writing is always strong, and I continue to be humbled that people are willing to share their words with me and the group, but today was one of those magical days when the writing was astounding. Thanks for the inspiration.


  2. You're welcome again, Barbara. Thanks for commenting and for giving me the name of that poem of Pat's. I like to use poems as prompts because it gives people a concrete example to get them going and understand what I'm asking them to do. Rather than limiting them, they seem to recognize it as a jumping-off point.