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E.E Cummings once wrote – ‘It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are’

This statement is one I genuinely believe in, and as a subject ‘growing up’, and all its glorious peripheries seem to me to be fertile ground for poetic exploration. After all this is something that each and every one of us has experienced, felt, loved, enjoyed, and endured.

Well, Happy Saturday to all. My name is Stuart McPherson and once again it’s an honour to be here and tending the bar! I have to admit, I struggled to think of a prompt this week, and I mean I REALLY over-thought it. You guys were a whisker away from getting a prompt about the peculiarities of caterpillars…seriously

Public Domain Image ''Insects, their way and means of living'', R. E. Snodgrass used courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Public Domain Image ”Insects, their way and means of living”, R. E. Snodgrass used courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

So, whenever I’m stuck like this I stop and I think- ‘What is going on around me’ or ‘what has inspired me recently’. Well, this week it has been one person, Sharon Olds.

Now, the poetry of Sharon Olds is so powerful, such an honest document of her life that I couldn’t help be moved by it. There are many different examples of her work I could reference that so adequately reflect that feeling of ‘growing up’, but what better life event to show this but giving birth.

The poem below is taken from her book ‘The Wellspring’ first published in 1996 by Random House. For me it shows a moment of realisation, a moment of knowing that life has been changed forever, and in this instance, that the narrator has reached a moment of true adulthood.

Her First Week

She was so small I would scan the crib a half-second
to find her, face-down in a corner, limp
as something gently flung down, or fallen
from some sky an inch above the mattress. I would
tuck her arm along her side
and slowly turn her over. She would tumble
over part by part, like a load
of damp laundry, in the dryer, Id slip
a hand in, under her neck,
slide the other under her back,
and evenly lift her up. Her little bottom
sat in my palm, her chest contained
the puckered, moire sacs, and her neck –
I was afraid of her neck, once I almost
thought I heard it quietly snap,
I looked at her and she swivelled her slate
eyes and looked at me. It was in
my care, the creature of her spine, like the first
chordate, as if the history
of the vertebrate had been placed in my hands.
Every time I checked, she was still
with us – someday, there would be a human
race. I could not see it in her eyes,
but when I fed her, gathered her
like a loose bouquet to my side and offered
the breast, greyish-white, and struck with
minuscule scars like creeks in sunlight, I
felt she was serious, I believed she was willing to stay.

SO- maybe there is some relevance in my pondering on caterpillars after all, what with the metaphor of childhood (the caterpillar) to the moment of growing up (the butterfly).

But in all seriousness, and something I mentioned earlier, is that this feeling of ‘growing up’ is something we all experience at some time in our lives. It is also different for all of us. It may have happened whilst you were at school, or the moment you lost your job, the moment you got engaged, the moment you first left home….it could be anything; it is extremely subjective but we all feel that transition; we somehow know that the world has changed and suddenly we have reached adulthood. And that is my point and my inspiration for this prompt.

Right then, lets get to it.

This week I want you to write a poem all about ‘growing up’. This could be interpreted in a number of ways, such as:-

  • The moment you realised you were no longer a child, or conversely, the moment you realised you were an adult.
  • Write about what ‘growing up’ means
  • A situation where you HAD to grow up (what happened, why?, what did you feel?)
  • A comparative poem- being a child v.s being an adult
  • A poem about ‘not growing up’
  • A poem about your own child growing up
  • Write about the relationship with your siblings as you grew up
  • You could even write about life-cycles! write a poem about that peculiar caterpillar if you want to!

Take this as an opportunity to be creative.The prompt is wide open.


  • Write your poem and post it to your blog
  • Add a link to your poem via the ‘Mr Linky’ below
  • This opens a new screen where you’ll enter your information, and where you also choose links to read. Once you have pasted your poem’s blog URL and entered your name, click Submit. Don’t worry if you don’t see your name right away
  • Read and comment on other peoples work to let them know it’s being read
  • Share via your favourite social media platforms
  • Above all- have fun!

See you out on the trail.

Stuart McPherson http://www.stuartmcpherson.com