Assignment One.

First Writing Assignment:
“I Remember” Poems.

I fell in love with this concept during my sophomore year at Temple University. I was enrolled in this pretty terrible poetry class that consisted of listening to a grad student read his own work to the class and assigning texts that his various professors had written. To my surprise he assigned us a more contemporary text written by Joe Brainard in 2001.


Here is an excerpt –

I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.
I remember how much I used to stutter.
I remember the first time I saw television. Lucille Ball was taking ballet lessons.
I remember Aunt Cleora who lived in Hollywood. Every year for Christmas she sent my brother and me a joint present of one book.
I remember a very poor boy who had to wear his sister’s blouses to school.
I remember shower curtains with angel fish on them.
I remember very old people when I was very young. Their houses
smelled funnv.
I remember daydreams of being a singer all alone on a big stage with no scenery, just one spotlight on me, singing my heart out, and moving my audience to total tears of love and affection.
I remember waking up somewhere once and there was a horse staring me in the face.
I remember saying “thank you” in reply to “thank you” and then the other person doesn’t know what to say.
I remember how embarrassed I was when other children cried.
I remember one very hot summer day I put ice cubes in my aquarium and all the fish died.
I remcmber not understanding why people on the other side of the world didn’t fall off.

Step One:

Take some time to write a 20 line “I Remember” poem.

Explore how poetry can be made from your own speech patterns and personal experiences.

Remain extremely detailed and showcase a variety of experiences.


Step Two:

Narrow the poem down to 10 lines.

Editing ones own work is the hardest job.

Delete the adjectives. Delete the fluff. Get to the point.

Step Three: 

Be fearless with your work.

Post here.


9 thoughts on “Assignment One.

  1. [I remember how I didn’t follow all your rules…#oops!]

    I remember the way my great-aunts house smelled, and how a doll of hers still carries that scent.
    I remember a trip in an RV where five girls’ friendships were solidified in a weekend.
    I remember the weekend in Virginia when I decided that I decided I genuinely liked my brothers.
    I remember the shooting stars.
    I remember being the “new kid” at three different schools.
    I remember sitting on the Philadelphia Art Museum steps at night and telling him how I am in my favorite spot.
    I remember when she decided we shouldn’t be friends.
    I remember [parts of] my 21st birthday.
    I remember how cramped I was on the airplane, but knew the destination was worth the discomfort.
    I remember the way I felt, even if I don’t remember the exact moments.

  2. I remember various duffle bags, suitcases, and backpacks all waiting by my bedroom door.
    I remember Saturday mornings and video games, lying on the floor.
    I remember swinging for the fences behind my Mother’s house. Not wanting to play once it was my brother’s turn.
    I remember biking on black tops, through the woods, and around the lakes.
    I remember when two weeks dwindled down to one, then slowly weekends, then slowly none.
    I remember duffle bags that became plastic tubs, boxes, and everything capable of carrying things for my soon home away from home.
    I remember the packing becoming seasonal, more special.
    I remember the stretches down 95, long talks and car rest stops.
    I remember slowly falling in love with the cobblestone streets, quirky neighborhoods, and the act of exploration.
    I remember the first day I grew roots, and slowly stopped turning around.
    I remember not needing to pack every week. Or the next.
    I remember feeling home.

  3. I remember the taste of mint leaves from moms garden.
    I remember collecting glass bottles and filling them with flowers in my forts,
    under the honeysuckle bush.
    I remember truly believing our willow tree was sad.
    I remember Bobby and Cancer and laying in the basement on his dog bed.
    I remember the smell of saw dust and how that meant dad.
    I remember her laugh and age spots on her hands and how afraid I was of the basement and how I smelled the blankets hard at night.
    I remember take your daughter to work day and walking across plywood boards over the foundation of a house.
    I remember being the little girl who said she wanted to be president, but never really knowing what that meant.
    I remember her always saying, “you’re going to be a writer.” and laughing until I saw a box she saved with everything I ever scribbled on.
    I remember packing my pink Barbie suitcase with chips ahoy cookies and vowing to run away, but never making it past the staircase.

    • this is so beautiful there are tears in my eyes. how did I not see this until now. you are wonderful the way you paint with words and creatively pull my emotions into ribbons wrapping around my love of all that you are.

  4. I remember my blue tricycle and its cold metal
    I remember not remembering where we lived for more than a year
    I remember our cars broken windshield, it was an oldsmobile
    I remember never having christmas for some religious reasons
    I remeber the first yoyo, Duncan it was
    I remember wanting her to be around, my little brother called her mother
    I remember him always hiding from the police, so we became lookout by habit
    I remember hanging out in the dump looking for treasures
    I remember the first time I was asked to dream
    I remember my first fear was swimming because they said don’t forget to breathe
    I remember my first love was sitting in the house with a book to read

    I remember…
    our car with a broken windshield
    not having a place to call home for more than a year
    not having chrismas
    the blue tricycle, so cold
    the mother who was not there
    my first love
    my father dodging the cops
    looking for treasures
    learning to dream, breathe, and read.

    thank you for this exercise which helped me exorcise some things…

  5. I remember your face so bruised and beat up it was as though it had stopped a car crashing into it.
    and life was never safe again like it had been sleeping on the bottom bunk when we were sisters
    trash burning in the drum out back, fireflies and stars.
    cold nights when your love did not keep me warm
    not believing I was good enough ,smart enough or pretty enough to make things right.
    I remember wishing I was dead, praying for you to die and you did.
    fighting for my life when I was dying fighting with an orange and a prayer.
    Mostly my memories flood with a full heart when the babies were bathed and nestled in my arms and being a Mother was better than being President.

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