“After killing your god, hotbox the gun smoke,” writes Kemi Alabi in “How to Fornicate,” the opening poem of their debut collection, Against Heaven, winner of the 2021 Academy of American Poets First Book Award, published by Graywolf Press in April. Alabi’s poem enumerates a set of instructions that lyrically lay out the relationship the speaker has with sex and sexuality, using imperatives to speak directly to the reader. These intimate instructions transform throughout the poem, ranging from clear actions to more unexpected uses of nouns that have been repurposed as verbs: “Choir everything. Tenor the roses. / Alto the mulch. Mezzo the flies.” Write a poem in which each sentence begins with an imperative. Try, as Alabi does in the poem, to use a range of words and lexicons to challenge traditional instructional language.
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Author: Writing Prompter