Family Writing Idea

Family Writing Idea

Family Writing Idea: (with 4 example poems) dm 01/07

Consider all types of family dynamics. Consider Arthur Miller's play "A View from the Bridge." Take a look at the poems in the Academic II section under the "Family" section.

Explore the many sides of the word "family." Consider the the Flash Fiction story we read called "Distance from Loved Ones." Remember how, during our discussion, we talked about how "loaded" with meaning the words Mother, Father, Son, Daughter are? Add to these Sister and Brother.

Even though we are reading the Miller play in class this week, keep writing every night, exploring ideas for your piece due on Monday. If we finish the play early, we'll have time later in the week for you to read your drafts to the class for feedback.

The characters in the Miller play are all part of a distinct group, a tribe with well understood rules, and well understood consequences for those who break them. We are all, in some way, part of a tribe, each with a set of expectations. During your writing explorations, consider your family, your tribe and allow your writing to go where it goes.

Some Ideas: Think more in moments in relation to these ideas. For instance – Father – he was selfless – a moment in summer at dusk when he played whiffleball with me, even though he worked a long day, used to illustrate this concept.








The idea of the rules of your ‘tribe’


Rooms: the kitchen, etc.

Family meals

The moment a parent became a ‘person’ -

Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Entering The Kingdom

by Mary Karr

As the boy's bones lengthened

and his head and heart enlarged,

his mother one day failed

to see herself in him.

He was a man then, radiating

the innate loneliness of men.

His expression was ever after

beyond her. When near sleep

his features eased towards childhood,

it was brief.

She could only squeeze

his broad shoulder. What could

she teach him

of loss, who now inflicted it

by entering the kingdom

of his own will?

The Lanyard

by Billy Collins

The other day

as I was ricocheting slowly

off the blue walls of this room,

bouncing from typewriter to piano,

from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,

I found myself in the “L” section of the dictionary

where my eyes fell upon the word


No cookie nibbled by a French novelist

could send one more suddenly into the past.

A past where I sat at a workbench

at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake

learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard,

a gift for my mother.

I have never seen anyone use a lanyard,

or wear one,

if that’s what you did with them,

but that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand

again and again

until I had made a boxy red and white lanyard

for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts

and I gave her a lanyard.

She nursed me in many a sick room,

lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,

set cold face cloths on my forehead,

then led me out into the airy light and taught me to walk and swim,

and I in turn presented her with a lanyard.

“Here are thousands of meals,” she said,

“and here is clothing and a good education.”

“And here is your lanyard,” I replied,

“which I made with a little help from a counselor.

“Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,

strong legs, bones, and teeth,

and two clear eyes to read the world,” she whispered

“And here,” I said, “is the lanyard I made at camp.”

And here, I wish to say to her now, is a smaller gift.

Not the archaic truth that you can never repay your mother,

but the rueful admission

that when she took the two-toned lanyard from my hands,

I was as sure as a boy could be

that this useless, worthless thing I wove out of boredom

would be enough to make us even.

My Father's Hats

by Mark Irwin

Sunday mornings I would reach

high into his dark closet while standing

on a chair and tiptoeing reach

higher, touching, sometimes fumbling

the soft crowns and imagine

I was in a forest, wind howling

through pines, where the musky scent

of rain clinging to damp earth was

his scent I loved, lingering on

bands, leather, and on the inner silk

crowns where I would smell his

hair and almost think I was being

held, or climbing a tree, touching

the yellow fruit, leaves whose scent

was that of clove in the godsome

air, as now, thinking of his fabulous

sleep, I stand on this canyon floor

and watch light slowly close

on water I can't be sure is there.