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Hippos and Wheelbarrows -- Writer's Poke #187

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed in rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

-- "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams

You know, I've taught "The Red Wheelbarrow" as a serious poem to my writing students for years and years. And I've told them that they could analyze it for a full 3-to-5 page essay. So, yes, I appreciate that poem.

But as I was brushing my hair this morning, I looked into the bathtub, saw some of Octavia's toys, and this "parody" just came to me. Then I wiped away a tear, knowing that I'll never be as widely anthologized for my stunning, impressionistic brilliance as W.C. Williams is.

Truth be told, I spent less than five minutes "composing" my poem, which is just about as long as it took Williams to write his. So why is Williams' poem famous and mine never will be? Is it just because he wrote his first? Is it because his objects are better than mine, somehow more essential to a symbolic understanding?

And quite frankly, is Williams' poem only recognized as important because it stands in for the totality of his work as a poet? Had Williams published only this poem, would it enjoy the same recognition it does now?

Begin with the words "So much depends upon" and finish the thought. Don't limit yourself to sixteen words, and don't worry about writing a poem. But once you've completed your freewrite, then and only then see if you can capture the idea in a short poem that uses Williams' poem as a model.

So much depends
upon

a blue plastic
hippo

resting on its
back

beside the "Big Buddy"
cup.

-- "The Spanish Inquisition" by Bret R. Fuller

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