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Creative Writing: Image

sample images



“Images haunt.  There is a  whole mythology built on this fact: Cezanne painting till his eyes bled, Wordsworth wandering the Lake Country hills in an impassioned daze.  Blake describes it very well, and so did a colleague of Tu Fu who said to him, “It is like being alive twice.” Images are not quite ideas, they are stiller than that, with less implications outside themselves.  And they are not myth, they do not have that explanatory power; they are nearer to pure story.  Nor are they always metaphors; they do not say this is that, they say this is.”   --Robert Hass, Twentieth Century Pleasures




Say I forgot myself,/ became a stutter of blue light/ swirling in a river bottom’s spiral/ my voice wet winter branches against a soot sky. (Judy Jordan)


Nothing was said until the house grew dark/ And a fishnet of stars was cast upon its windows….Then folk songs began/ rising from their lips like blue leaves in summer. (Dick Allen)


And I can’t tell/ victim from weapon/ now: The muzzle of night/ is pressed/ to my neck. (Patricia Davis)


For listening and instructional purposes/ the Bumblebee confesses that he sleeps/ with earphones attached to his apian body. (Ray A. Young Bear)


The jellyfish/ float in the bay shallows/ like schools of clouds,/ a dozen identical—is it right/ to call them creatures,/ these elaborate sacks/ of nothing?….nothing but something/ forming itself into figures/ then refiguring,/ sheer ectoplasm/ recognizable only as the stuff/ of metaphor… (Mark Doty)


The model stands in the pale composure of his nakedness/ where sunlight has chiseled him from shadow/ like a kouros striding out of stone. (Richard Foerster)


A wet green velvet scums the swimming pool/ furring the cracks. (Debora Greger)


Now in London Sylvia Plath/ Nailed one foot to the floor;/ and with the other walked/ And walked and walked through the terrible blood. (Frederick Seidel)


When I leap,/ I briefly see the world as it is/ and as it should be/ and the streets where I grew up,/ The saxophones,/ Kisses/ And mysteries among the houses/ And my sister, dressing in front of her mirror,/ A secret weapon of sound and motion,/ A missionary/ In the war against/ The obvious. (Cornelius Eady)


His clock has stopped watching./ His watch, an immense presence,/ an octopus with jewels. (James Tate)


Each time the town tells the sheriff/ To look harder, my nose straightens and/ My hair uncurls.  I rustle like the wind upon/ The surface of a lake.  I wink just/ Below Susan’s cheeks. (Cornelius Eady)


When he thought the other bus passengers weren’t watching him,/ the transient stared at the exhibit of stuffed deer, bear and/ mountain lions—then he would slide-step ever so slightly to/ his right as if waiting for the rest of himself to catch up./ It took him over an hour to slide the perimeter of the depot./ Though he is mad, the crazy debris of the cities, think about this:/ there would always be room on the earth/ if we, too, were to move that slowly--/ all of us sliding and waiting,/ assuming vacant space,/ sometimes touching shoulders or thighs to hips--/ the politeness of it/ the simplicity/ the decency/ how the brute of us becomes a civil slow-motion dance. (Patricia Pyle)


The Eagle rests on the freeway lamp posts, listens/ to the senseless dirge of irony and air brakes./ She wobbles in takeoff between magnificence and the Moon./ Her contention is that one must feed the children first. (Elizabeth Woody)


Poetry has to be this:/ a girl in a wheatfield--/ or it’s absolutely nothing. (Nicanor Parra)


I was born unto this snowy-red earth/ with the aura and name of the Black Lynx./ When we simply think of each other,/ night begins.  My twin the Heron/ is on a perpetual flight northward,/ familiarizing himself with the landscape/ of the Afterlife, but he never gets there…/because the Missouri River descends/ from the Northern Plains/ into the Morning Star. (Ray A. Young Bear)


Behind the smooth texture/ Of my eyes, way inside me,/ A part of me has died:/ I move my bloody fingernails/ Across it, hard as a blackboard,/ Run my fingers along it,/ The chalk white scars/ That say I AM SCARED,/ Scared of what might become/ of me, the real me,/ behind these prison walls. (Jimmy Santiago Baca)




Subject Guide

Image Assignment

IMAGE—This week, we will focus on concrete images.  Whatever you are writing, you should focus on making images come alive in the reader’s mind.  By describing carefully and using concise language, we should be able to see what you are seeing.  Do not use any clichés, stale language, or anything you have heard before.  We want to see it for the first time, even if it is a common object.  Virtually every sentence should contain an image or vibrant action.



--Many poems rely on strong images.  Write a pantoum and focus on images in the three-dimensional world.  Need not be metered, but if you think it’s fun, go ahead and create rhythm.

--7 stanzas

--1 poem



                --This scene should rely heavily on the physical world and incorporate as many strong images as               possible.

                --2-5 page scene


Creative Non-fiction

                --Focus on images in the literal world (not on feelings, thoughts, or mental matters).

                --2-5 page scene



                --Your characters should be describing something in a way that we in the audience could              see it.

--For a stage play, this might inspire staging.  For a screen play, it might inspire the film shots. What does the camera see?

                --3-6 page scene