Single Syllable Writing

I’ve been thinking about how constraints allow a different kind of creativity. Last month students tried two poetry exercises I promised would yield poems they wouldn’t have otherwise written. Safe bet I was right. And you’ve experienced the same in your writing when you follow a prompt or form.

This week I gave another challenge: single syllable writing. This is an old favorite that slows me down. I start with an idea and then spend a lot of time staring at the ceiling. Try it for ten minutes. Write a poem, journal, draft a story.

I decided to write about going to the desert last winter to see the kites. I went with that idea because kite is a single syllable word. After finishing the piece I thought about what else I could tell using one syllable words. I’d like to draft another two or three vignettes of our life in Kuwait and see how they read as a whole.

See The Kites

One day we go see the kites. We drive to a stretch of sand and wind and walk to where men send kites in the air, the strings staked in place. The kites are big. On the ground, a kite looks like a tent laid out. In the air it takes shape, sharp and bright on the sky. We squint, point. There is fish. There is a bird.

The wind plays with my girl’s hair. The wind takes my boy’s shout.

More come by noon. The kids run, yell, laugh. I stand back. I like to see how the day looks. There is a tent where tea and snacks are served. Out front of that, rugs are laid on the sand and chairs set so we can sit and look up. The kites whip and flap, dive and rise. Kites crowd the sky, some so close I think their strings weave knots. They snap and shake, dance and fall but don’t come loose. My mind goes still. Wind goes through me. The sun keeps me in one place.

There is still day left when we go. Out of the wind there is no sound. The kites get small. Blue dots, orange squares, green tails on a white sky.

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