When You Are Most Yourself

Here’s a powerful yet brief poem and the related writing prompt that I offered at a one-day writing retreat held last week at a private home in lovely Becket, Massachusetts. This poem is from the anthology Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (Random House, 2003), edited by Billy Collins, which I’m currently reading and loving. Here’s a direct link if you’d like to find the book: http://www.billy-collins.com/2005/06/books_and_recor.html

I Wish in the City of Your Heart

by Robley Wilson

I wish in the city of your heart
you would let me be the street
where you walk when you are most
yourself. I imagine the houses:
It has been raining, but the rain
is done and the children kept home
have begun opening their doors. 

  • After reading this poem several times, create a brief snapshot of yourself “when you are most yourself.” Write from the second or third person point of view (“you” or “she”). Unless you feel pulled to write in a particular genre (short story, memoir, poem, & etc), just write without concern for what your “spill” will become. If you’re following my blog at https://www.writelikeariver.com/river-edge-blog, you’ll notice that this prompt is part of a portrait theme.
  • Another option: Create a brief snapshot of someone you know (or a character you’ve created) when she/he is most herself/himself.
  • Write for 10 minutes without stopping, editing, erasing, or judging. You may want to set a kitchen timer. If you like, at the end of 10 minutes, you can reset it for 10 more.
  • Read aloud what you’ve written!
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