Poetry/Writing Prompts

Where do jack-o-lanterns come from? (Write your own origin poem/story)

Rob Carney gives his take on  the origin story of jack-o-lanterns in his Folklore blog post for his series Old Roads, New Stories: A Blog Series on Terrain.org. The blog posts are short and full of writing inspiration. This one is a great example of an origin story. Use comfortable and creative language like Carney’s to write your own origin story—pick another Halloween or holiday topic, or write one about yourself. The origins of things (made up or real) are great inspiration for writing both prose and poetry.

pumpkinFor this article, Carney rewrites the Irish folktale of the jack-o-lantern with engaging dialog and concrete details like, “It’s about Jack, Ireland’s wildest carouser… always swearing and brawling, and whirling through women like a lust tornado, and pegging rocks at all the cops and priests, so everyone knew that Jack was going to hell” and then quickly pivots on his heel to give readers “these three things right now.” The last paragraph is a surprising, yet pleasurable, turn about humpback whales, Rainier cherries, and Miles Davis. Suddenly you are transported to Monterey Bay, Washington state, and a jazz music hall.

Try your hand at a similar tale. Add the turn at the end. Choose poetry or prose or whatever form delights you. Then share a link to your own blog post in the comments below.

If you like this post, please share with your writerly friends and/or follow my blog or like my Facebook page.

Rob Carney’s fourth book 88 Maps was just released by Lost Horse Press (distribution by University of Washington Press). Other books and chapbooks include Story Problems and Weather Report, from Somondoco Press. You can also read his poetry in Terrain.org: 4th Annual Contest Winner and Issue 30. And listen to a new radio interview with Rob Carney.

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