April 08, 2010

Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop - 04/08/10

It's time for the weekly fun at Mama Kat's, when she regales us with snazzy writing prompts and lets us run roughshod over the English language for everyone's amusement! Check it out!

The prompts this week:

1.) Baby fever is in the air. Describe what you would do differently as a first time mom.
2.) What book captured your heart? Write about why the first book you loved is the first book you loved.
3.) Who is a bird-brain? Think about all the birds you’ve seen–from songbirds to hunters. Compare one or more people you know to different types of birds in a piece of writing.
4.) Why do we need 26? If you could change the alphabet, what would you do? Add? Subtract? Combine? Simplify? Write about it.
5.) Where does that fear come from? Write about something that frightens you that other people might find ridiculous. Write about it in a poem, a story, or whatever.

This week, I chose prompts #1, 2 and 5.

1. Baby Fever

What would I do differently if I could go back as a first time mom? I'd pick a different first time dad. Oh, how the past 35 years could have been different!

Ok, since that isn't possible, I'd have fretted less, enjoyed new motherhood more. I'd have done less comparisons of my skills vs. other moms, and less about how Shannon compared to other kids her age.

I'd have taken more walks, hugged and kissed more.

2. Books that Captured My Heart

I have loved to read, well, since I could read. Due to time and space constraints (and the fact that NOBODY would read an entire list of books I love), here's my top 10 books for my lifetime (in chronological order):

Disclaimer: Other books could appear on this list on another day. I'm moody like that.
1. Dick and Jane books. I would be remiss if I didn't give the props to the book series that got reading started for me. Oh how I wanted to be Jane or Sally! I loved Puff the cat, and even Spot, the dog. I was ambivalent about Dick (hey, I was in first grade).  

2. A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Ahh, Sara Crewe. And her father, the brave captain. And the evil Miss Minchin. Rent the movie with Shirley Temple, it's a treat.

3. Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene (a pseudonym for numerous writers over the years). Who didn't want to BE Nancy Drew? She solved crimes, she was brave and smart, and had a keen boyfriend named Ned Nickerson. And heck, she drove a convertible. She had it goin' on!

4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. I think this book even made Oprah's list of favorites. I love re-reading the story of the Depression-era Francie Nolan and her family. It warms my heart to read how tragedy and poverty do not break Francie's spirit. Catch the 1945 movie if you can.

5. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. The quintessential Civil War saga. Another strong-willed woman (oh, I see a trend developing). 

6. Your Perfect Right: A Guide to Assertive Living, by Robert E. Alberti and Michael L. Emmons. Sometime soon after I become a young wife and mother, I lost my mojo. I may even have lost myself. This book helped me to realize that I had a voice, and that I could ask for things (or help) if I needed. Of course, at that time, nobody listened - but the lessons have stayed with me.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. A powerful story of prejudice, justice, fear and redemption set in the Deep South. Read the book. See the movie - Gregory Peck rocks. And see a young Robert Duvall as Boo Radley.

8. The Wonderland Quartet, by Joyce Carol Oates. A series of four novels written by Oates as a young woman. 

9. The Green Mile, by Stephen King. I got my version in a series of six mini-books. I could have picked several King books, as I went through a phase where I read most of them.

10. Oprah's Book Club, pre-2005 (I moved to KY in 2004, and my reading slacked off. Coincidence? I think not). I read so many of her selections, I can't pick just one. It would be like asking me to pick my favorite child...no wait, I know who that is. Anyway, check out the entire list here.

5. Familial Fear

I see you looking back at me
as I brush my hair,
your eyes are mine,
the mirror does not lie.

I examine my hands, my feet
my thinning lips
for any physical resemblance,
fearful that that would be enough to imprint 
your blackened heart upon mine - and I am afraid.

I hear your voice when frustration reigns,
when anger burbles up from my throat and onto my tongue
poisoning my words with your venom.

For as long as I have had memories, I wished only to be
as dissimilar to you as I am to the oak tree
in that meadow over there.

The list I kept and added to,
decades of rules and words and sentences
punishments too harsh, the tally of bruises inflicted
the sum total of all the things I would not do
or say to MY children
one day.

Despite my best efforts,
and all my protestations to the contrary,
I fear I am turning into you
and I am filled with sorrow.

Mothers and daughters - the magazine ads
belie what I lived at home
No matching outfits and conspiratorial whisperings 
made up my days.
The tea party had no cups or saucers.

Eager was I to leave your clutches,
to wash your influence from my skin.
Yet, I came back again and again
for that kick...like a dog, who returns with a wag
and a lick to her abusive master.

I thought it was just the sins of the father
that were visited upon the sons
After you are dead, will I love you more?


  1. So many wonderful books! A tree grows in Brooklyn and To kill a mockingbird and the green mile, definitely hit my top 10 too!

  2. wow! your poem was awesome! you got a gift!

  3. A little princess is one of my FAVORITE books!!!!!

  4. I loved the Dick and Jane books, too! So simple. So good.

    Your poem is great.

  5. A tree grows in Brooklyn. I love, love, LOVE that book! What a great list. Did you see the Nancy Drew movie? It reminded me of the books. They were great, weren't they?

  6. Beautiful, beautiful poem. It captures so many of the deep emotions that we all feel at one time or another. It's usually the things that we hate the most that are the hardest to wash off.

    I loved at the first prompt. You gave me my first chuckle of the day.

    "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and "To Kill a Mockingbird". Two of my top 50, for sure.

    Stopping by from Mama Kat's.

  7. i'm taking notes on what to do differently as a mom - still very much in the trenches of rookiedom here.

    Also #7 is my all time fave book.

    and i love the poem.
    well done.

  8. Your poem was great and I loved the Nancy Drew books too!

  9. Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, and the Tom Swift Jr. series all hold a special place for me. Probably why I like mystery fiction today.

    Great poem!

  10. This was SO awesome! I agree with so much here-- especially the Oprah's Book list. I read so many so fast, I think I have some of the stories jumbled :-)

  11. Wow - powerful poem. What a gift you have.

  12. OK ... wow. That poem. That was some powerful stuff there.

    And I LOOOOOOOVED "A Little Princess.' Loved it!

  13. I was going to first comment on your book choices, but WOW, the POEM, just WOW! Very...I'd like to say real, but I don't know you, so I don't know if it's real. Powerful has already been used. Raw? I liked it.

    And Nancy Drew is the bomb!


Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments...I get all warm inside just reading them!