When I read Melissa Queen’s “Learn to Sail with Your Dad” over at Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century, I enjoyed the way in which it’s genre-transgressive, appears in numbered sections (which could be ordered in several different ways), and speaks to “you”—always an intriguing choice.
To give you a taste of Queen’s work, here is how it begins:
1. Just because the sign beside the boat launch cautions to beware of alligators does not mean there are alligators in the water for certain. Even though you are four and can’t yet read the words on the sign, you can pick up on the significance of the bright red lettering and the black silhouette in the shape of an alligator with a wide, gaping mouth just the right size for swallowing four-year-olds whole. But just because your father tells you there are no alligators does not mean there are no alligators for certain. Fathers have a tendency to say these things with confidence because they think that is what is required of them.
Grab your notebook & a pen or open a blank document & set a timer for 10 minutes.
I invite you to:
1) Write about learning something specific from a person who is or was close to you: perhaps a parent or grandparent, child or sibling, friend or pet.
2) Write instructions about how to do something specific. Address a reader who is close to you (parent, child, pet…).
For example, you may want to describe a family recipe in great detail, including old stories about the dish or dessert!