Writing prompt:  The art of the autobio

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I haven’t posted a writing prompt in quite some time, and as I was going through all my old Facebook page posts to schedule this summer’s Weekly Writing Workshops, I remembered I wrote this autobiography in verse form a couple of years ago while I was taking our local Poet Laureate’s Poetry class at my alma mater.

Let me just say a few things about that class:  It helped me explore different ways of poeming (I fell in love with the pantoum), which was like discovering a whole new palette of colors.  I also learned that you really get to know people not just by reading their poetry, but by listening to them read it; they will reveal more about themselves in one poem than they will in a whole semester of conversations.  What’s more, taking a college level poetry course deepened my appreciation for works not my own.

This writing prompt is on making an “autobio list” (i.e. a list poem about you), which is a great form of freewriting, for you will find that as you recall one memory, another will be jarred loose, and memories will be tumbling over each other so fast, you will be scrabbling to get them down before they fall through the wrinkles of your brain.

“Slow-Speaking Lady” was originally going to be a Shutterfly book, but really, it was more of a writing exercise, modeled after Anne Waldman’s Fast Speaking Woman–one of the required texts in my poetry class.  Anne’s “break” stanza (i.e. the centered stanzas that break up the litanies) was “water that cleans/waters that run/flowers that clean as I go.” Do I get it? No, and I probably never will, but I am learning to appreciate things I don’t understand.  I already like that “Dominique” song by that French nun, and I don’t understand a word of it–I just like the way it sounds.

Without Waldman’s influence, I would’ve never written something like this, so she helped me think not so much out of the box, but to step out of the box completely.

That said, this is the kind of poetry that is better read aloud, as it is more like a chant.  It wasn’t until I watched Anne’s performance of her piece that I got more out of Fast Speaking Woman.  “Slow-Speaking Lady” would make a great YouTube video, but I’m not ready to put myself out there like that just yet.

So this prompt is to just write down everything that you are and categorize accordingly.  I guarantee that if you write one of these every seven years, they will be very different.  

Free your mind!

Slow-Speaking Lady

I’m a diamond lady, but a flawed lady.
I’m a ruby lady, a ruby-slippered lady.
I’m a sapphire sea lady, an emerald coast lady.
I’m a pearl with cameos lady, a blue moon lady.
I’m a rose gold lady, a silver lady, but not a gold-&-silver lady.
I’m non-pierced, non-tattooed lady.
I’m a soft-hearted lady, but not a bleeding-heart lady.
I’m a hard-headed lady, but not a soft-boiled lady.
I’m a red shoe lady, a flip-flop & bikini top lady.
I’m a glossy red-lipsticked lady, a freckled-face lady.
I’m a barefaced & barelegged lady.
I’m a brunette in a redheaded body kind of lady.
I’m a lady on a mission, but not a missionary lady.
I’m a spiritual lady, but not a churchgoing lady.
I’m a lady with many questions, a lady who questions God.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a wifely lady, a motherly lady.
I’m a wannabe breast-feeding lady.
I’m a lady with a seedy Mormon past, a fruitful post-Mormon present lady.
I’m a minimalist lady, a mindfulness lady.
I’m a retro lady, a vintage lady, a modern lady.
I’m a board game lady, a head games lady.
I’m a gift-bag giving lady, a wrapping-paper receiving lady.
I’m a porcelain doll, but unbreakable.
I’m a gift card lady, not a greeting card lady.
I’m a French twist-braid-pastry lady.
I’m a cooking with electric lady, not a cooking with gas lady.
I’m a nut-loving, dark chocolate noshing lady.
I’m a truffle-making lady, not a Christmas cookie baking lady.
I’m a lady of many tastes, a lady of good taste.
I’m a Southern lady, a lady who loves everything fried.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a Scots-Irish lady, a Black Irish lady, a Northern Irish lady.
I’m a white lady, but not a colorless lady.
I’m a fast-typing lady, a slow-writing lady.
I’m an introverted lady in person, an extroverted lady on paper.
I’m a left-brained lady, a right-brained lady.
I’m a right-handed lady trying to be a left-handed lady.
I’m a typesetting, if not a trendsetting lady.
I’m a lady with a past, a lady with a future.
I’m an in-the-moment lady, a lady who daydreams.
I’m a have-it-all lady, not a do-it-all lady.
I’m an event lady, not a party lady.
I’m a creative mess lady, a clutter-free lady.
I’m a modest lady, a wandering eye lady.
I’m a fallen lady, a lady who’s been lifted.
I’m a cameo lady, a lady with the face of a cameo.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a clothes lady, I’m a naked lady.
I’m a cold-natured lady with bare shoulders, a hot-natured lady with a sweater.
I’m a satin-edge blanket lady, a cotton sheet lady, a matching pillowcase lady.
I’m a paisley pattern on my bed, not on my person lady.
I’m a controlled water lady, not an uncontrolled water lady.
I’m a mechanically-disinclined lady, an artistically-inclined lady.
I’m an acoustic guitar lady, a folk-song loving lady.
I’m a country music loving lady, a lady who doesn’t say y’all.
I’m a printed book reading lady, an online research scanning lady.
I’m an Instagramming lady, a telegramming lady.
I’m a grammarian lady, a Shakespeare-making-up-words lady.
I’m a dictionary lady, a thesaurus lady.
I’m a bleeding through the page, gel pen lady.
I’m a serious in-person lady, a comedienne on paper lady.
I’m a lady who takes her work seriously,
but a lady who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a beignets on Christmas morning lady.
I’m a cake lady, a frosting-hating lady.
I’m an al fresco dining lady, a “Wheel of Fortune” watching lady.
I’m a picnicking in the park, a barbecuing on the beach lady.
I’m a mixed drink lady, a mix-&-match lady.
I’m a plaid lady, a polka-dotted lady.
I’m a thigh-high, not a waist-high lady.
I’m an open-question lady, with a mind at half-mast.
I’m a conservative lady mind-wise, a liberal lady heart-wise.
I’m a Bible-reading out loud lady, a praying to myself lady.
I’m a Christian-y arts lady, an artsy Christian lady.
I’m a play-by-the-rules in life lady, a breaking the rules in print lady.
I’m a spiritual lady, not a religious lady.
I’m a Jesus-loving, God-fearing lady.
I’m a lady with issues, a lady with values.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a twilight lady, a lavender & periwinkle lady.
I’m a nurturing lady, a nature-loving lady.
I’m a day-outdoors lady, a night-indoors lady.
I’m a slow-running lady, a fast-walking lady.
I’m a firefly lady, a lightning bug lady, a barefoot lady.
I’m a fire lady, an ice lady, a sun lady, a moon lady.
I’m a rising lady, I’m a setting lady.
I’m the lady in red
I’m a champagne-drunk lady, a soda-sober lady.
I’m a couponing lady, an extravagant lady.
I’m a soft fabric lady, a durable goods lady.
I’m a button-loving lady, a zipper-hating lady.
I’m a twenty-seven-toothed lady.
I’m a long-haired lady, a shaved lady.
I’m a glass lady, a clay lady, a wooden lady, a woman of steel.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a Roman numeral clock type of lady.
I’m a shabby chic lady, a distressed lady.
I’m a candle-burning, lamp lighting lady.
I’m a letter-writing lady, a cursive-writing lady.
I’m a film noir lady, a Technicolor lady.
I’m a memory-making, memory recording lady.
I’m an Arial lady, never a Times New Roman lady.
I’m a nostalgic lady—for times gone by, for times that never were.
I’m a lady who loves Comic Sans for children’s books.
I’m a children’s poetry lady, an adult-story lady.
I’m a fighting-with-words the other doesn’t know lady.
I’m a deconstructed lady, a reconstructed lady.
I’m a compassionate lady, a passionate lady.
I’m an enchanting lady, a disenchanted lady.
I’m a lady inside one man’s head.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m an introverted lady.
I’m a type A lady, a type B lady.
I’m a wandering lady, a stay-at-home lady.
I’m a fast-eating, slow-food lady.
I’m a fact-finding lady, a making-it-up-as-I-go lady.
I’m a breakfast for dinner lady, a dinner for breakfast lady.
I’m a bread & butter lady, a toast & jam lady.
I’m a lady who doesn’t procrastinate.
I’m a crayon lady, not a colored pencil lady.
I’m a get-it-done-before-I-forget lady.
I’m a day-dreaming lady, a night-fantasizing lady.
I’m a bra-hating lady.
I’m plain lady, a fancy lady.
I’m a black lace lady, a pink satin lady.
I’m a crafty lady, but not a lady of the craft.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck,
on myself.

I’m a bargain hunting lady, a seashell gathering lady.
I’m a winter clothes loving lady, a summer weather loving lady.
I’m a less is more lady, a more is more lady.
I’m an upcyling, if not a recycling lady.
I’m a primetime watching lady, not a daytime watching lady.
I’m a no-sew, no-bake lady.
I’m an ABBA lady, a Tom T. Hall lady.
I’m a Lady Stetson.
I’m a watermelon-scented loving lady, a watermelon-hating lady.
I’m a baking soda bath lady.
I’m a hair-drying hating, sundried loving lady.
I’m a crimped hair lady, a foam curler lady.
I’m a beach-here lady, a mountains-there lady.
I’m a Shakespeare appreciation lady, but not a Shakespeare-loving lady.
I’m a lady who loves to live, but not live to record.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a Scrabble lady, not a Sudoku lady.
I’m a levity lady, not a gravity lady.
I’m a rhyming for kids lady, a non-rhyming for adults lady.
I’m a vegetable lady, not a fruit lady.
I’m an any flavor potato lady, but not a sweet potato lady.
I’m a browsing in the bookstore lady, not a Kindle scrolling lady.
I’m a self-help lady.
I’m a Capri-loving lady who doesn’t wear Capris.
I’m a sock eschewing lady.
I’m a timeless lady, an untimely lady.
I’m a plain paper lady, not a coloring book lady.
I’m a dollhouse lady, a paper doll lady.
I’m a wood burning, rather than a woodworking lady.
I’m a character-driven lady, not a plot-driven lady.
I’m a lady who prefers summer days over holidays.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a thirtysomething lady, feeling a twentysomething girly.
I’m an “I Love Lucy” lady.
I’m a fried chicken on Wedgwood blue china lady.
I’m a windchimes lady, a lullaby-loving lady.
I’m an interviewing lady, no a “woman on the street” lady.
I’m a human-interest lady, not a hard news lady.
I’m a Princess Kate, Grace Kelly, Melania Trump, & Jackie Kennedy fashion lady.
I’m a poet, I’m a poetess, whatever gets me noticed.
I’m a just-so story lady, a shaggy God story lady.
I’m a glossy paper lady, a ripped edge lady.
I’m a dust-jacket removing lady.
I’m a been-there, let’s-do-it-again lady.
I’m a get-in-my-zone lady, a stepping outside my comfort zone lady.
I’m a lady with a double life—a life outside the pages, a life inside.
I’m a lady who loves, a lady in love.

I am, in all my forms, a lady.

Poem-a-Day Writer’s Digest Challenge #21. Theme: Strange

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I am a Strange One:

A Self-Portrait in Writing

I turn my clock backwards
before I go to sleep.
I am a strange one.

I don’t like to sleep on pillows,
but rather between two of them.
I am a strange one.

I set my clock ahead five minutes,
for 7:00 a.m. is too close to 6:59.
I am a strange one.

I am studying to work in the healthcare profession,
but the sight of blood makes me faint.
I am a strange one.

I love to read crime thrillers,
but I love to write children’s nursery rhymes.
I am a strange one.

I read the dictionary for fun,
Hemingway for school.
I am a strange one.

I am a maximumist when it comes to books,
a minimalist when it comes to DVDs.
I am a strange one.

I love foreign films with subtitles,
but close captioning drives me crazy.
I am a strange one.

I love and appreciate fine art,
but have a hologram of a tree hanging in my house.
I am a strange one.

I watch Fox and read the HuffPost.
I love the Shopaholic series, but am a fan of Dave Ramsey.
I am a strange one.

I have seven Rubbermaid Tupperware containers,
and seven Rubbermaid lids.
I am a strange one.

I like Coca Cola from Mexico,
but I would never drink the water there.
I am a strange one.

I don’t love to cook,
but I love to watch cooking shows.
I am a strange one.

I’d much rather “meet my meat”
than cook it.
I am a strange one.

I buy a new fruit or vegetable first,
then try to figure out what to do with it later.
I am a strange one.

I love most everything fried,
but I prefer my fries baked.
I am a strange one.

I don’t like bananas,
but I love banana cream pie.
I am a strange one.

I love the beach and water aerobics,
but I never learned to swim.
I am a strange one.

My dream vacation is in Iceland,
but I hate the cold.
I am a strange one.

I love cat jokes,
but will probably never have a cat.
I am a strange one.

I like to make bars of soap,
but I prefer to use body wash.
I am a strange one.

I am a night owl,
but I hate when it gets dark early.
I am a strange one.

I hate cold weather,
but I love to be able to wear nylons and sweaters.
I am a strange one.

I like to wear socks inside the house,
but not outside the house (with shoes).
I am a strange one.

I find brassieres uncomfortable,
but not bikini tops.
I am a strange one.

I prefer skirts and mittens
over pants and gloves,
because I like my parts to touch.

I don’t like beards,
but I like a man who can grow one.
I am a strange one.

I like a man who wears cologne,
but I don’t wear perfume.
I am a strange one.

I don’t mind loading washers and dishwashers,
but I hate emptying them.
I am a strange one.

I love shopping for clothes,
but I hate trying them on.
I am a strange one.

I live in the Deep South,
but I don’t say y’all.
I am a strange one.

I don’t have a single tattoo or piercing,
yet I love chandelier earrings.
I am a strange one.

I am an introvert,
but I wait tables for a living.
I am a strange one.

My truths may be strange,
but they are not stranger than fiction.
We are all contradictory,
and, at times, just a little bit OCD,
in our own way.

But at least I don’t go to a seafood restaurant
and order a hamburger.