Welcome to the second day of NaPoWriMo. Today’s prompt is to complete the title How to… in any way you like. Start by brainstorming different titles for 10 minutes: How to fly, how to bake cookies, how to build a time machine… . Don’t think about writing a poem at this stage just keep the pen moving and write as many titles as possible. Once you’ve finished you may find that one of the titles gives you an idea for a poem. If not, carry on with your day and something might inspire you when you least expect it.
When you write your poem be precise in your instructions, add specific details. As the poem develops move on from simple list of instructions to take the reader somewhere unexpected.
When I wrote the poem below I was living in Japan. I saw some octopus in a restaurant and the title came to me. I don’t know how to catch an octopus but that doesn’t mean I can’t write a poem about it. This was first published on the Guardian website.
How to catch an octopus
Familiarise yourself with salt water.
Bathe and brush your teeth with it.
Use it as perfume.
Drink a little at meal times.
Keep an ice cold tank
and submerge your hand for one hour daily.
Do not clench your fist.
Let your hand float free beneath the water.
Over time your fingers will become blubbery
flex the joints so they move with any current.
When you can lift a dinner plate using only your flat palm
find a rock or take a boat out
and wait for your five-legged octopus to find a companion.
Do not grab too soon or resist the draw of the ocean.
Wait till you forget you are waiting
and your hand swims deeper.
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