Most of us contemplate the new year with a to-do list of promises: exercise more, read more, write more, worry less, binge Netflix less, etc., most of which we will break within the first weeks. I am not here to judge you—honest. I am too busy stressing about my own ever-growing list of expectations and likely failures. If hope springs eternal, my clock springs must be rusty and bent.
On that optimistic note...write a poem about what you didn’t get done this past year. Rather than pushing against that mudslide of regret, use its momentum and put your obsessive analyzing of past mistakes to good use. For inspiration and commiseration, read Richard Hoffman’s “December 31st” personifying his undone to-do items.
Another possible prompt using Hoffman’s poem: describe the calendar’s artwork or specifically January’s to create an ekphrastic poem (a poem that describes a piece of artwork or a scene). We will dive further into ekphrastic poetry in a later post. For now, you can jump to the Poetry Foundation’s definition of the ekphrastic form and its recommended sample, the famous “Ode to a Grecian Urn” by Keats.
Or if you would like your own 17th century still life with skull, refer to the painting Vanitas Still Life by François van Daellen (c. 1650)