Risking (Versus Ranting)

O. Span. arriscar,

to venture into danger

“Risking” is based on a writing prompt that poet Edwina Trentham brought to her recent Hill-Stead Museum workshop on the challenge of writing political poetry.

Thank you to Edwina for graciously agreeing to share this strategy with readers of Write Like a River. I’ve paraphrased her original prompt and italicized any of her original words, as well as adding to it. I recommend her politically-focused writing and workshops (click on her name above to visit her website).

“Risking (Versus Ranting)”

  1. Think of an incident, situation, or issue in your community or the world today—something that directly affects you. Perhaps it sends adrenaline into your system the first you learn of it, or you find yourself frequently thinking of it, or you tear up when you overhear someone speak of it. (Spill for 2 minutes)
  2. Consider why it affects you. (Spill for 2 minutes)  
  3. Try to connect the abstract “why” with a specific event in your life or a specific person. Write—not about the incident, situation, or issue—but specifically about the event or person you thought of. Use vivid details that appeal to the senses, so the reader experiences the event or meets the person on the page. (Spill for 40 minutes)
  4. Give your piece a title that connects it in some way to the original incident, situation, or issue.


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