Writing Prompt: “Rerun That”

by Levi Mandel

This week’s writing prompt is inspired by the work of Leland Hickman, an excellent but relatively unknown queer poet, whose collected works were recently published by Nightboat Books. Without the efforts of Stephen Motika and Bill Mohr, Hickman’s work may have been forgotten altogether. To ensure that never happens, this prompt draws from Hickman’s poem “Lee Sr Falls to the Floor” which describes and reruns the scene of his father’s death.

Here’s the excerpt of the poem you will need for this prompt.

Mimic Hickman’s technique of describing a specific incident in replayed fragments. The image of Lee Sr falling is “rerun” three times in the poem’s opening and each time the falling is described in a slightly different way. (An interesting question – do the three descriptions contradict or complement one another?)

So, pick a specific scene/incident and over the course of your poem “rerun” the narrative. Give us a detail (“Lee Sr falls to the floor / his breathing unthrobs”), stop and re-describe that detail (“Rerun that / the fumes / tremble in the terrifying heat / Lee Sr falls to the floor”) and then stop and re-describe the scene again (“Rerun that / Lee Sr crumples / angular on linoleum / gasps in the kitchen glare.”) So forth and so on.

How many different ways to you tell a story? What are some of the ways memories overlap and revise themselves?

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