NUDGE: If Shel Silverstein Could Nudge You…

Around here it’s been a hard week (this is the big reason why). It’s rainy and gray, with even heavier rain due tomorrow. It just seems like the perfect day for a Shel Silverstein-inspired prompt.

Silverstein is best known for his children’s poetry in such classic books as Where the Sidewalk Ends, and he’s written some great songs as well (“A Boy Named Sue” is my personal favorite). However, his talent and output go way beyond these works. If you’re not familiar with Silverstein’s background, read all about him at this website.

If you know and love Silverstein’s work, and if you have access to one of his collections, choose any poem you want for this prompt. If you’re a poet, write a Silverstein poem in his signature playful, musical, topsy-turvy style. I could say “humorous” as well, but some of his seemingly light poems have a sad, truthful rebound. If you’re writing prose, you could play with different approaches. For instance, choose one of his character poems and write about another topic from that character’s viewpoint or in that character’s voice. Or choose a description-filled piece such as “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout (Would Not Take The Garbage Out)” and compose your own, new descriptions. Or simply let the piece inspire you and write whatever first comes to mind after reading the chosen poem once.

If you don’t have ready access to Silverstein’s work, Poets.org includes three Silverstein poems in its archives:

1) For “If the World Was Crazy,” write what you’d see if your world was crazy; or compose a poem of flip-flops, where something becomes its opposite. If writing prose, describe a day or an occurrence that made you feel as if the world had gone bizarro and nothing was as it should be.

2) For “Mr. Grumpledump’s Song,” write in poetry or prose how everything that’s supposedly right with the world is actually wrong.

3) For the iconic “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” write in poetry or prose about escape from brutal, gritty reality. Your “escape” can be fanciful, or describe a real “better place” you wish you could run to right now.

The point of these nudges is to have fun. Admit it—at the end of a long week, you need a little play time.

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