Today’s poem charts the surreal and incredible adventures of some Lemon Grass voyaging into space. Additionally though, the poem in itself is in a kind of transit, being a set of “instructions” for an unseen artist to convert the words into visual form, supplemented by textual captions given in capital letters.
At Poetry in Aldeburgh: Chrissy Williams is reading as part of ‘Four Poets read Four Poems each’ alongside Anna Selby, Edward Doegar and Richard Scott on Saturday 5th November from 830pm-10pm in the Peter Pears Gallery.
Instructions to the Lemon Grass Artist
One Lemon Grass whispers a word in a field of Lemon Grass.
The Lemon Grass all take off into the sky at speed and we see some leaving the atmosphere.
TEXT: LEMONGRASS CANNOT STAY.
All the Lemon Grass glide through space, stars, celestial events.
TEXT: LEMONGRASS IS AFRAID OF THE DARK
The stars fade away. The other Lemon Grass start to fade away.
Lemon Grass is alone in the dark infinite cosmos.
Lemon Grass undergoes a transformation. Its stalk splinters from the tip to form new stars.
Lemon Grass is a thousand stars seen by day, a lit sky, a light formed of many lights.
Lemon Grass returns to its initial state and prepares to whisper a word.
from Flying into the Bear (Happenstance, 2013)
Writing Prompt: Strange New Worlds
The famous introductory narration to the TV series Star Trek refers to the mission of the starship Enterprise: “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.” Meanwhile, the video game No Man’s Sky (2016) allows a player to explore 18.6 quintillion planets, each including their own procedurally generated flora and fauna.
Today’s exercise is to create a poem set on a different planet and to provide a glimpse of “new life and new civilizations”. You do not need to show or announce that it is set on a different planet, but this should be your intention as you write the poem. This imagined planet could be significantly different to ours, or it could explore a world where such variations are subtle. The concept of convergent evolution, in which another planet has a similar environment and ecosystem and thereby has a civilization that largely mirrors our own, allows for a new world where anything could happen but many things are the same. A neat plot device, and one employed in many a Star Trek episode.