I wasn’t the first . . . Prompt #288

Today’s writing prompts are inspired by author Julia Park Tracey, Alameda’s Poet Laureate.

victorian-housePart 1: Quotes from Veronika Layne Gets The Scoop by Julia Park Tracey.

“I wasn’t the first reporter to arrive at the scene, but I wasn’t the last, either.”

“A Victoria house — one of those multihued beauties with turrets, fish-scale shingles, gingerbread trim, iron railings, a weathervane, a trim of every description on widows’ walks and sun porches —a majestic painted queen from the late 1800s —burned like a marshmallow too close to the coals.”

“You finally get a story, the story, and it changes before the ink is even on the page. And then it’s past, it’s history, and there’s not enough to cover for the following issue. On to the next assignment.”

Note from Marlene: When you look at writing prompts, you can look at the entire quote, or take a section, or a word and write from there. For example, you could write about “I wasn’t the first to arrive at the party.”

The second quote intrigued me because I love the description of “burned like a marshmallow too close to the coals.”  It seems to me that not many people would think of comparing a house fire to roasting marshmallows.

Part 2: Lines from Home at the Edge of the World, Alameda Poet Laureate Julia Park Tracey,  Inaugural Poem

There are houses down your shaded streets –
beneath your oaks, your ginkos, your avenues of palm –
Leaded in glass, shingled in fish-scale, spangled with gingerbread,
Victorian ladies tarted up for Carnival,
their history and lore curving like a staircase into view.

Gentlemen strolled in spats, ladies swung their parasols,
bay breezes curling with fog and the clank of halyards, snapping flags. Water, at every turn,
glittering to shore, to ship, to ankles and toes.

Note from Marlene: In your collection of writing, mark places of exquisite writing. You might be able to use these nuggets later . . . in a story or a poem.

Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning author, journalist and blogger. Tracey was the founding editor, and later, publisher, of The Alameda Sun. Her work has appeared in Salon, Good Housekeeping, Scary Mommy and Thrillist. She is the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, and holds a BA in journalism and MA in English. Her publications include three novels (Tongues of Angels and two Veronika Layne mysteries); two biographies, I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen and Reaching for the Moon: More Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen; and Amaryllis: Collected Poems.

She reads and teaches poetry to all ages and grades, leads literary events citywide, and representing the city at literary events such as Litquake.

Julia will be the Writers Forum Presenter on September 15, 2016.

To read the entire inaugural poem click on Home at the Edge of the World.


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  1. PamH

    The Edge

    At the border of known and unknown
    sitting with hands on knees thinking,
    “Well, safety is there, right behind me.
    If I just turn away, all will be well.”

    A glimmer, a flash, lights darkened senses
    while peripheral vision asks,
    “What was that?
    Did I imagine it?”

    Fatigue’s fog drifts over my brain,
    lulls high silver nerves
    into complacency, convinces
    my fingers only paid work matters.

    At the brink of the world
    between seen and unseen,
    between effort and grace.
    Home of mystery,
    home of being fully alive
    in spaces, cracks between the edges.

    1. mcullen Post author

      Wow, PamH. The Edge is something I could read, reread and read again. Each time I would pick up a new gem, a new phrase, a new “that’s perfect.” Lovely writing. Thank you very much for posting because now I can read, reread, and read again. Big Smile.

  2. justinefos

    Facing the possibility that I sound like an echo…WOW! I am right up there with Marlene. Pam H, I have read your piece out loud several times and it chills me each time. Truly the unspoken thought of many a writer, who has not yet been able to sculpt feelings into the words which you have offered, and now searches for a fainting couch. Yes, it does insist on rereading a few more times.

  3. PamH

    Thank you for the kind, supportive, responses. I am grateful to have this place for testing the waters with my writings.

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