Jan Bowman

Entry # 121 – “The Why of Horrible”

This week I am devastated by the unanswerable “how and why” of the horrible elementary school slaughter in Connecticut.  Everyone has an answer – and – No one has an answer. So I won’t even go into that, but what I have thought about is how and what to write in the face of such horrific events.

Right now,  I am unable to work on the stories currently under revision on my computer.  Maybe next week, but what do I write now?  I am a writer.  I must write.

And how do I help the writers in my writing class? With a heavy heart I struggled to find a journal writing task worthy of the moment for my writing class prompt for the week. So what to do?  I’ve been reading lots of poetry.  Too much to use here.  I turned to poetry, as I often do when sadness threatens to overtake me.  Poetry has the power to comfort and help the mind confront the worst and best in the human heart, and we’re all probably a little better after spending time with spare, evocative images of a poem or photo.

I turned to a favorite poet, Naomi Shihab Nye and poetry from two books that I often read & reread:  Words Under The Words by Nye, and another book of selected poems – edited by Nye, What Have You Lost? 

So here are some writing prompts taken from “evocative lines” – out of context – from several poems that I randomly read.  Perhaps they’ll connect to something in your heart and mind. Or perhaps you’ll find it helps your heart to read more poetry. If you keep a journal, then maybe this is a place to begin.  Take a line and write freely. Let the possibilities taken from these poems or others, connect and help. 

1.     Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Telling The Story”
        “In America, what’s real
         juggles with what isn’t
         a woman I know props fabulous tulips
         in her flowerbed, in snow.”

2.     more from Nye’s poem – “Telling The Story”
        …”a mother walking the same child
             to school.
             What will we learn today?
             There should be an answer,
             and it should

3.        Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Where Children Live”
           “Homes where children live exude a pleasant rumpledness, 

              like a bed made by a child, or a yard littered with balloons.”

4.     Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”     
              note: this is all there is to this poem – only two lines
        “The apparition of those faces in the crowd;
          Petals on a wet, black bough.”


If you wish, you can take a line (or more) from one of these and use it to write freely in your journal. I wish you a good week.  May peace be yours.   Jan


Having prepared and scheduled a different posting for this date, I went back and removed it and am posting this one instead.  Perhaps another day – I will find a time to post the other one. But not now. Not in the face of so much pain.  Not at a time when one of the best things about this time of the year is the laughter of little children – who make this season so special. Not in the face of such loss.

Please note:  I will not post on Tuesday, December 25, 2012 or Tuesday, January 1, 2012.  I need to take a break and spend time with family and friends.  It is a time for reflection.

Jan Bowman’s work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, Broadkill Review, Trajectory, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes, and others. She won the 2011 Roanoke Review Prize for Fiction. Her stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories and a story was a finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories and currently shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction work pending publication in Spring 2013 Issues of Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at:

Website – www.janbowmanwriter.com

Blogsite – http://janbowmanwriter.blogspot.com