absurd, children's literature, Children's Poetry, dverse poets, Existentialism, Franz Kafka, poetry, poetry community, poetry inspired by Kafka, poetry inspired by quotes, poetry prompt, surreal
Hey everyone! Glad to see you all made it to the bar tonight as I have a rather unorthodox prompt for you seeing that we are insectember and my children are itching for new reading material…
I recently discovered Quora, by far the best social media site out there, (if you can call it that, and outside our beloved blogosphere of course) and quickly found myself perusing with great interest the in-depth answers to a randomly-suggested question on how to proceed should a neighbor’s tree fall on one’s house. (Do I waste time on the Internet? Never!) Anyway, a user named Chris Kenton, speaking from experience, described in great detail the arduous process of repairing his home. At one point, he stated regarding his bank and all the hoops through which he had to jump for him to get the insurance money: “They make Kafka look like a children’s author.” Ding, ding, ding! I sensed a prompt in the making and one that will hopefully give me respite from countless readings of Fox in Socks, no offense to Dr. Seuss. I love you, Theo, but I’ve had so many tweetle beetle battles I think I’m becoming one!
Take a look at these quotes from the modernist Bohemian writer, Franz Kafka. Can you picture one as the basis for a nursery rhyme?
“I do not see the world at all; I invent it.” from The Diaries of Franz Kafka, 1910-1923
“The world will offer itself to you to be unmasked.” from The Zürau Aphorisms
“I am a cage, in search of a bird.” from The Blue Octavo Notebooks
“One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.” from The Blue Octavo Notebooks
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us.” from Letter To Oskar Pollak
“I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.” from Letters to Friends, Family, and Editors
“Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached.” from The Trial
“But what am I supposed to do if this fear, and not my heart, is beating within my body?” from Letters To Milena
These last three quotes I was unable to find in which work(s) of Kafka’s they were written but I’d still like to propose them for use in this project.
“God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them.”
“I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.”
“I am free and that is why I am lost.”
Use one of these Kafka quotes either directly within or to inspire a children’s storybook/poem. Yes, many of them are existential or macabre, qualities we don’t tend to attribute to literature suitable for young ones. However, children also tend to (quite literally, in my family) throw off the rose-colored glasses when we try to get them to wear them for cute, staged pictures. If we, the authors, know life isn’t all rainbows and happy endings, why must we constantly and achingly put on a smile when to glower would be more appropriate?
Remember, many children’s books have only a sentence, or even a phrase or several words, per page. Your poem doesn’t necessarily have to be a prolonged, complex sonnet with a half dozen characters. A sweet and refined octave will do, but if you don’t use the quote embedded in your poem be sure to mention which one inspired it. Also with young readers, rhyme and rhythm go a long way, but you are not required to use either. When you’ve posted your poem to your blog, link it up to the Mr. Linky below (not just a link in the comments — not all readers will see it there) and then go grab some chocolate milk and read and comment on other entries. Bis bald!
Gospel Isosceles said:
The most memorable story I’ve ever read by Kafka is one about a mouse racing to the point in the distance that he doesn’t yet realize in his youthful vigor and naïveté is actually just a corner and the walls that now seem so distant and abstract, are actually leading him to this trap. And when he finally gets there he sees there is nothing more to do than to turn around and be eaten by the cat. Now that I think about it, that would make a fantastic children’s book, warning of plunging headlong into the rat race that no one wins.
I have to go pick up my daughter, but I’ll be back later to read. Have fun!
An amazing prompt! I’ll be back in tomorrow and Thursday to read. Must go vote in our city’s primary now….then tons of laundry from our Ptown trip…and tomorrow to my daughter’s. Excited to see how folks work with this!
You have elections? Good luck with the mountain of laundry and enjoy visiting your daughter, Lill!
City government elections….not national.
hmm, I do not have children not contact with children. I haven’t read a nursery rhyme in decades. What to do? What to do? I may have to let this prompt slide.
Reach out to your inner Dr Seuss, Toni!
LOL. I didn’t read Dr. Seuss!
Maurice Sendak? Any nursery rhymes? My poem isn’t exactly nursery rhyme stuff, but I hope it has a childlike quality. 🙂
I didn’t read Sendak either. I read Mother Goose decades ago. I was on an 8th grade reading level when I was six. Not into rhymes either. I will let this prompt go. Won’t hurt me to miss one.
look back to your childhood and think what you’d like to read then
Lol TS Eliot
oh boy. then imagine TS Eliot as a child 😉
I don’t think you need to go full on “child”. I think you can retain a sense of childlike wonder or absurdity in a more “adult” poem.
I will think on it. Thank you Sarah.
Good evening dVerse Poets and thank you Amaya for hosting with a memorable prompt!
I read a lot of Kafka as a student and when I was younger, but not recently. I think I should read his work again.
Hello Amaya and All. I absolutely adore this prompt! I’ll try to make it scary enough but not too bad.
Linda Lee Lyberg said:
Hello Amaya- Interesting prompt. Thank you so much for hosting. Sharing my little tidbit!
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
I had to reach for the most obvious Kafka inside… and that is what bugs me.
I just loved this prompt. I think I’ve come up with something that has slight shades of Kafka, a dollop of Dr Seuss, and a whole lot of Julia “Gruffalo” Donaldson! Though I had to have a happy ending…
The Abject Muse said:
Hell yeah! What a great prompt!
Frank Hubeny said:
Thanks for hosting, Amaya. I hope mine fits the prompt.
Well, I probably chose the easiest one, but my, that was a fun prompt! Thank you!
Rob Kistner said:
Wow, Amaya, what a great, imaginative prompt! Thank you so much for hosting. You allowed me to dig deep into my sense of wonder, and a tiny elf popped out… 🙂
A fun prompt!
OOPS I did it again. Missed a word in the first entry. Please delete. Sorry!
Dr. Crystal Grimes said:
Thanks Amaya, this was fun! 🙂
Ah, Kafka, how I love his work, what a great inspiration, thank you Amaya. I love the Trial most of all.
Glenn A. Buttkus said:
Brothers Grimm understood the utilization of dark fairy tales; to draw Kafka into it was a a master stroke. A very interesting, well thought out prompt. Children’s poetry and literature is usually left out of group poetry prompts. It, perhaps, should be a regular event; twas fun.