Weird News Headlines

Even though we may be on a Lenten fast of news headlines, Day 7 of NaPoWriMo has asked us to mine the news for today’s poetry prompt.

“And speaking of news, today our prompt (optional, of course) is another oldie-but-goodie: a poem based on a news article. Frankly, I understand why you might be avoiding the news lately, but this is a good opportunity to find some “weird” and poetical news stories for inspiration.

I can’t say that their examples really grabbed me. But it was full moon and a cloudless night so I was wide awake even before NaPoWriMo had posted the Day 7 prompt on their website. (It goes on at midnight EDT FYI insomniacs of Europe.)

In the end, I just googled “Weird News Headlines.” So my poem is not based on a single news article. It is a mash up from a series of headlines that caught my attention.

The 2020 Zoo
Mr. Fox has gone and done
a Leopold Bloom walkabout,
strolling over The Ha’penny Bridge.
Meanwhile, elsewhere…
in Chicago, coyotes are patrolling
Cook County on Neighbourhood Watch.
It’s reported that the deer have taken Calgary.
A lion is loose in an Indian city.
Brown and black bears, everywhere
are waking grumpy and hungry.
Horses are stampeding
Singapore’s streets.
Chimpanzees are mimicking
their keepers,
washing their hands on repeat.
Outside my bedroom window I can see 
that the magpies are in residence,
roosting in my roof.
Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash

Give Me Headlines

For the past week I have been obsessed (or you could frame it as I am playing) with this five line format that begins with a quotation. One thing that I have found with these quotation poems is that you need a quote that is short and snappy. I started poetry practice today noodling with a a rather long quotation from Maria Mitchell quotation that appeared in a Brainpickings blog post.

Whatever our degree of friends may be, we come more under their influence than we are aware.

Maria Mitchell, Astronomer

This is a truly interesting take on friendship and merits contemplation. But that quotation runs into two lines. Which rather defeats the attempt at writing a five liner poem. It’s a quart spilling over the rim of the pint pot. So ideally, I reckon, for this form to work seamlessly, you need something short and snappy. You need a quotation that is really a headline. Also interesting is that snippets cadged from poets seem to really lend themselves to the form. Today’s Poetry Daily borrows a quotation, a single line, from Theodore Roetke’s poem “The Waking.”


"I feel my fate in what I cannot fear."
What roads I walked, and my dreams, brought me here.
I have past the point of sleep. I wake early from those dreams.
I read their runic truth, resolute, fathom out their themes.
I walk the day's road brave, with focus unfogged and clear.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash