Thursday’s Work-in-Progress: The Power of a Prompt, or a Prizewinning Poem’s Backstory

Late last week I had a poem published by The Missouri Review!

(Okay, so the poem appeared on the journal’s blog. But that’s close enough for this still-newbie poet!)

Unlike many of my other published pieces, “Jerusalem Dream,” isn’t one that I labored over for weeks, months, or years. Only a few days elapsed between my noting the announcement for the journal’s “Art of Omission Contest” (okay, technically a contest from the journal’s textBOX online anthology, but again, close enough!) and my thinking about, drafting, revising, and submitting the entry.

The challenge was a terrific one. Using a brief posted excerpt from Reesa Grushka’s “Arieh,” an essay that appeared in 2006 in The Missouri Review, entrants were instructed to write a piece (poetry or prose) up to 50 words long. The “catch” was that all words had to be drawn from the words used in the “Arieh” excerpt.

Reader, I loved this prompt. Assignment. Whatever you want to call it.

And apparently, the poem I submitted garnered some affection in return. And the honor of being included among the top five entries.

The grand-prize winner received a bonus: a paid entry good for an upcoming Missouri Review contest. But all five winning pieces earned their scribes a one-year journal subscription.

I am thrilled. My first poetry prize!

(You can read all of the winning pieces on The Missouri Review‘s blog. Mine is the fifth. Immediately after “Jerusalem Dream,” you’ll see the excerpt we were all provided.)

6 thoughts on “Thursday’s Work-in-Progress: The Power of a Prompt, or a Prizewinning Poem’s Backstory

  1. Amy Morgan says:

    Erika, Congratulations on your first poetry prize! “Jerusalem Dream” is beautiful and what a lovely collection of pieces. I love it when the pool of words is the same for all and yet the finished pieces differ so greatly. Takes my breath away sometines, the power of writing and words.

  2. emilydixieson says:

    wonderful wonderful wonderful!

  3. Polly says:

    Congratulations Erika! May this be the first of many.

  4. Erika Dreifus says:

    Thank you all very much! Yes, Amy, I agree: fascinating and inspiring to see the different responses.

  5. Lisa Romeo says:

    Terrific. I have always been a fan of prompted writing, and of course, a fan of your work as well. Congrats!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thank you, Lisa!

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