20: Poem for Calling Ghosts

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Poetry Prompt

Poetry Prompt

“Let’s start first with a question: What do you think about the imagination? Is it a place that you go in your mind to create new ideas freely? Is it a place you fear? Is it both?

Much of my belief in a shared, material imagination has to do with my belief in ghosts and a hope and horror that they really do exist.

Poems are special because they make a space, a real space, where we can call go [ghosts]. This place is a city called The Imagination. It is whatever you want it to be, half-hell, half-dreamworld, half-Paradise, half-light and ashes, but poems are the special things that make it real forever.

Let me ask you another question: Have you ever been there?”

—from Dorothy Lasky, “A Belief in Ghosts: Poetry and the Shared Imagination” (https://daily.jstor.org/a-belief-in-ghosts-poetry-and-the-shared-imagination/)

The Prompt:
Write a poem for calling ghosts. If you need more specifics, here are a few approaches:

+ Write an incantation or offering for summoning ghosts. Consider what forms of language are most likely to be heard, what forms of care, succor, sustenance you might provide. Is it dangerous to disturb these ghosts? What will happen if they don’t respond?

+ Write a dialogue poem in which you (or someone else) have a conversation with one or more ghosts. Consider whether the ghosts are intimates, distant relatives, or complete strangers, whether they call from the near present, the deep past, or some other time altogether.

+ Write a poem in which a ghost guides the speaker into another dimension or form of consciousness / being. As Lasky writes, make it “whatever you want it to be, half-hell, half-dreamworld, half-Paradise, half-light and ashes”; “make it real forever.”

+ Write a ghost story: a legend, a tall tale, a grift. Then, revise the poem so that it’s set in your current time and place. Use present tense.

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