Writing Prompt: “Collect a Color” by Alexis Almeida

Several times in Dionne Brand’s The Blue Clerk, the clerk collects a color:

“Lemon the clerk has collected: watch lemon, bay lemon, rare lemon, lemon distance, lemon steps, given lemon, lemon knot, lemon reach, lemon fast, lemon documents, lemon ethic, lemon funerals, lemon hold, taken lemon, lemon elegies, lemon summary, lemon pulley, lemon factors, lemon archives, what lemon, lemon acts, lemon nails, lemon steps, lemon crevasses, written lemon, lemon vanishing, lemon deposit, missing lemon, lemon contents, lemon debris, lemon gains, unassailed lemon, lemon sinew, uncertain lemon”

Choose a color and trace it throughout your day. Record images you see it in, language you associate with it, take pictures. Now write a list poem where it appears in almost every phrase. You may want to rename the color before you start writing — also let it become adjectives, nouns, verbs, see where the associations take you. This may take several days or one sitting. Read it to a friend when you’re done. 

For reference, see: The Blue Clerk: Ars Poetica in 59 Verses by Dionne Brand (Duke University Press, 2018)

About the author

Alexis Almeida grew up in Chicago. She is the author of I have Never Been Able to Sing (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018), and most recently translated Dalia Rosetti's Dreams and Nightmares (Les Figures, 2019). She teaches in the Language and Thinking Program and Bard College and for the Bard Prison Initiative. She lives in Brooklyn and edits Folder Magazine and 18 Owls Press.


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