Prompt for October 23 – Virtual Barat House

Seasonal Ekphrastic . . .

Photo by Liz Hafalia for the San Francisco Chronicle. Traditionally, an ekphrastic prompt invites a response to or description of a work of visual art in poetic voice. We interpret ekphrasis broadly–we invite you to respond in any form.

Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).

Log into our virtual meeting at 1pm for readings and discussion.

If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 12pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.

A note on the prompt

From “Can S.F. sway the presidential election? Drag queens support the resistance by writing to swing voters” by Heather Knight in the San Francisco Chronicle, October 15, 2020.

Prompt for October 21 – Virtual Didier Dumas

One crewmate has been replaced by a parasitic shapeshifter.

Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).

Join our virtual meeting at 8pm for readings and discussion.

If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 7pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.

A note on the prompt

The line is from promotional text for Among Us, a game by Inner Sloth. Last night, U.S. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar joined some popular players (including my family’s favorite, Disguised Toast) in a livestream of the game on Twitch to “get out the vote.” The stream was watched by over 400,000 viewers. You can watch a recording of AOC’s full stream of the event here. It’s, um, three and a half hours long. (Who says video games erode kids’ attention spans?)

Prompt for October 16 – Virtual Barat House

That’s worth remembering.

A secret list, a box of photographs, a fortune from a cookie slipped into a scrapbook.

Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).

Log into our virtual meeting at 1pm for readings and discussion.

If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 12pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.

A note on the prompt

Inspired by the title, The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering, a post-apocalyptic and surprisingly whimsical novel by Jeffrey Rotter.

Prompt for October 14 – Virtual Didier Dumas

In the early days of his exploration, he expected the dune to be gone after every big storm, and following the 1944 hurricane that sank the USS Raleigh off Siesta Key, he was sure it would be. But when the skies cleared, the island was still there. So was the dune, although the hundred-mile-an-hour winds should have blown all the sand away, leaving only the bare rocks. Over the years he has debated back and forth about whether the magic is in him or in the dune. Perhaps it’s both, but surely most of it is in the dune.

Stephen King, “The Dune”

I’m thinking about how this passage describes something in nature that astonishes and comforts us by its persistence and survival against all odds. But since this dune appears in a Stephen King story, you might also think such things are a little creepy.

Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).

Join our virtual meeting at 8pm for readings and discussion.

If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 7pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.

Prompt for October 9 – Virtual Barat House

The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him, “What are you going through?”

Simone Weil, quoted in What Are You Going Through? by Sigrid Nunez

Over the course of the novel, as the narrator traces her relationship with a sick friend, she also explores the stories behind those she encounters along the way: a rescued cat at an Airbnb, an elderly housebound Fox-News conservative, a brilliant but irritating ex-lover passing through town. How might other “passers-by” answer the question?

Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).

Log into our virtual meeting at 1pm for readings and discussion.

If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 12pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.

Prompt for October 7 – Virtual Didier Dumas

There is a school made of twigs on the oxbow lake

Visit this Setting Generator Bot and use one of its results to inspire your work. If you are interested in tweaking the results or creating your own setting based on the bot’s parameters, the formula is “There is a [building] made of [natural material] on the [geographical feature].” This combination of elements draws playfully on your individual, conscious and subconscious associations with world cultures, historical threads, and sensory observations and imprints. Fun!

Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).

Join our virtual meeting at 8pm for readings and discussion.

If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 7pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.

Sadly, the Setting Generator Bot is no longer operational. Enjoy the wealth of archives!

Prompt for October 2 – Virtual Barat House

The garden-facing room on the second floor

Set your work in the world suggested by the prompt; or go within the persona observing the room and the garden; or storm out of the metaphorical house and find something really interesting to write about.

Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).

Log into our virtual meeting at 1pm for readings and discussion.

If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 12pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.

This little snippet of a setting is from “Super Goat Man” by Jonathan Lethem.

Prompt for September 30 – Virtual Didier Dumas

We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.

Gloria Swanson as Nora Desmond, Sunset Boulevard

Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).

Join our virtual meeting at 8pm for readings and discussion.

If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 7pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.

Thank you to Lithub for inspiring the prompt. (“Turn and Face the Strange” by Darcey Steinke)

And thank you to Hollywood.

Prompt for September 25 – Virtual Barat House

A Moment’s Interlude

One night I wandered alone from my comrades’ huts;
The grasshoppers chirped softly
In the warm misty evening;
Bracken fronds beckoned from the darkness
With exquisite frail green fingers;
The tree gods muttered affectionately about me,
And from the distance came the grumble of a kindly train.

I was so happy to be alone,
So full of love for the great speechless earth,
That I could have laid my cheek in the wet grasses
And caressed with my lips the hard sinewy body
Of Earth, the cherishing mistress of bitter lovers.

–Richard Aldington

Log into our virtual meeting at 1pm for readings and discussion.

If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 12pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.

Notes on the prompt

We’ve all heard, talked, and read a lot about isolation in recent months on social media and in mainstream circles; about disconnection; about how much we miss the bustle of society and constant contact. The flip side of this, which only gets mentioned occasionally and with a strong sense of guilt, is that we’ve all experienced solitude in the positive sense far more frequently also: the vibrant hush of a moment in the natural world, the moment of nesting into self that can’t fully happen during an hourlong commute. This somewhat sentimental poem seemed to be about one such secret revel in solitude, a moment in which we “bitter lovers” of the world can let down our guard.

Prompt for September 23 – Virtual Didier Dumas

And then we did a fateful thing: we left our home.

From Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness by Catherine Cho

Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).

Join our virtual meeting at 8pm for readings and discussion.

If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 7pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.