join us in celebrating national poetry month today with our talented friend Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam: award-winning writer, fellow cat-person, and host of Fort Worth's annual Art & Words Show! Bonnie is also the co-creator of Strange Monsters, a collaborative audio project mixing jazz and storytelling, and was recently featured on spiderweb salon's literary podcast. we are pleased to share this fantastic writing prompt from Bonnie (a very appropriate prompt as we approach Dallas Art Fair weekend), alongside her beautiful poem The Women in the Big Band Fill Their Empty Seats (previously published in Bared). enjoy!
Bonnie's prompt: Go to a local gallery or museum. Find a work of visual art that speaks to you. Write a poem or story or essay using that work as inspiration. Be as obvious or as ambiguous as you please: choose a realist painting and write about an element of the background, choose an abstract and find a story within the colors, or combine two works of visual art and write about the places where they meet.
The Women in the Big Band Fill Their Empty Shells
The women in the big band wear black bras
on the outside of their yellow blouses
to give the audience what they demand to see:
their insides out, orchestrated
to suggest an inner life absent of the half-smiles
they might give were they to choose
their own expressions. If only they could peel
their skins and play their horns
on inverted lips, no one would complain
in the comment cards. Then again, someone
After the show the women hang
their bras with leftover rope from the ceiling
of their dressing room. Limp-necked,
the bras beg to be filled. The women trudge, weighted
in their fake fur, drop covering and take cover
in the snow. They hum the true hum of their instruments
until morning when they're sure their fans
have left their rooms. Then and only then
do they clasp their empty shells
around their cages
of rib bones
to play again.
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam is a fantasist fiction writer and poet with a deep love of cats, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and gardening. Her work has appeared in over 40 magazines and anthologies such as Clarkesworld, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Everyman's Library's Monster Verse. Her novelette “The Orangery” is a finalist for the 2016 Nebula Award. She hosts the annual Art & Words Show in Fort, Worth, Texas. In 2015 she released a collaborative fiction-jazz album Strange Monsters. You can visit her on Twitter @BonnieJoStuffle or through her website: www.bonniejostufflebeam.com.
want to read more from our favorite local writers? check out the prompts & poems from friends we've already featured this month, including: Stevie Edwards, Logen Cure, Joe Milazzo, Sean Enfield, Leah Tieger, and Leslie Marie Aguilar. we'll share more awesomeness daily throughout the month and host a POETRY PARTY on April 22nd at Wine Squared in Denton so you can hear all these wonderful poets in action and celebrate with us! we are also accepting work for one more weekend for writers who wish to be featured - the deadline is on april 10 and you can find submission information HERE.