Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer, followed by a prompt to help you write your own poem.

When things get difficult, frightening, depressing, or overwhelming, it becomes especially important to treat ourselves kindly. In “advice for coping with cacophony of life’s noise,” Mardi Knudson hints that she might share her expertise on techniques for self-soothing. She might have said, “You should slow down and enjoy your coffee.” But instead she models her contemplative practice of enjoying a soothing beverage. By addressing herself as “you,” she not only reminds herself of the necessity of self-compassion, but also gently invites the reader to experience the effect of mindfulness. This is an example of why a poem is often a gift from one human heart to another.

At Lyricality, we support diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, financial means, and status. We promote credentialed poets with degrees and a record of publishing in traditional literary spaces, and we also promote spoken word artists, lyricist-songwriters, and Minnesota’s many Indie poets who share their poems in alternative spaces–with writing groups, on Instagram, through self-publishing, tucked in a letter to a friend, or a collected in an album for a child.

Because we know that poetry is capable of fostering meaningful, important, heart-to-heart connections for everyone, Lyricality aims to break down the false assumption that poetry is only relevant for, interesting to, and written by a specialized group of educated, poetry professionals.

Tracy Rittmueller

advice for coping
with cacophony of life’s noise
Mardi Knudson

prerequisite:
special mug
that fits your grasp
just right
filled with your favorite morning brew

sit, sip, stare

clear your day of mind’s to do list
center yourself
release imagined inner toxins
use facial muscles to form
a smile
breathe deeply
pulse calmed
slowly stand up straight
walk into your day
with inner strength

craziness happens during the day
evening enters

sit, sip, stare

untether mind from
day’s concerns
be in the moment
feel the smooth glass stem
favorite wine goblet
emblazoned with jewels and the word
Queen
in red
deep cherry and oak wine
goes down smoothly
smile returns
campfire lit for evening
exhaled poisons of the day
swirl up with smoke
blow away on cleansing breeze

sit, sip, stare
repeat

*****

Mardi Knudson has been writing poetry for 38 years. Each of her sons has a binder with an annual birthday poem in it! She has always enjoyed playing with words. As a retired educator she felt privileged to mentor young poets. She continues that passion at YAYA (Young Author/Young Artist conference) each May. She is a member of the Grand View Poets (the St. Cloud area chapter of the League of Minnesota Poets) and loves sharing poems with the group.

Writing Prompt based on “advice for coping with cacophony of life’s noise” by Mardi Knudson

We offer writing prompts based on featured poems for people who want to write something, who need a little help getting started. We certainly don’t want to imply that you ought to write something. Many people enjoy reading or listening to poems without feeling compelled to write one. You might simply read this prompt as a deeper exploration into what the featured poem is doing, and how its language works. 

Want to write your own poem of advice for self-soothing?

Are you wondering how to write a reminder poem to treat yourself kindly? You could start by naming an issue, something you’re having trouble with, such as “being patient with the children,” or “tolerating the neighbor’s political yard sign.” Then write a list of positive things you would tell a good friend in your situation to do. “Take a walk in the woods,” for example, or “play fetch with the dog,” or “plant a garden.” Then pick one thing, and write a few paragraphs about doing that thing, without naming the thing. Notice how the poet of this poem does not use the word “meditate” or “contemplate,” but instead chooses a sequence of three verbs–sit, sip, stare–to describe the action of mindfully drinking a soothing beverage. Is there a sequence of verbs you could use to describe the action of your poem? Notice how this poet uses the literary device of repetition in this poem, repeating “sit, sip, stare” two more times. You might borrow this technique.

As you write, try to include sensory descriptions. State what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel when you do this activity. Arrange your words into lines that make sense to you. You may choose to use traditional punctuation or not. Do whatever seems to best serve your poem’s mood or tone. Just be consistent.