Possibilities: A Quickwrite Slice of Life #sol19

Back to school means back to more intentional work in my writer’s notebook. I’ve been sharing two or three different poems a day and writing alongside them with my students. Wislawa Szymborska’s “Possibilities” has been one particularly rich text to write beside. I’ve gotten the seeds for several possible pieces from this poem. But this one was the most fun to write. I invited my students to borrow a line and write from it. The second line of the poem is “I prefer cats.”

I prefer cats. I prefer senior cats and kittens, skinny cats and zaftig cats. I prefer tame cats and feral cats, house cats and tough street cats. I prefer slinky black cats with gold eyes. I prefer whiskers and eyebrows–lots of them. I prefer calicos with their fussy calico personalities. I prefer tuxedos, torties, gingers, and tabbies. I prefer neuro kitties with their wobbles and twitches and tipovers and spills. I prefer cats with fur–long fur, short fur, in between fur–and also naked cats, with their wrinkles and velvety skin. I prefer lap cats and standoffish cats, turtle cats who hide in the rafters and social butterflies who greet you at the door like dogs. Cat prefer cats too.

Slice of Life is a weekly writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.






9 responses to “Possibilities: A Quickwrite Slice of Life #sol19”

  1. Amanda Potts Avatar

    Welcome back to Slicing, Elisabeth. I’ve missed your cats all summer (ok, and your voice, too). In fact, as per usual, you have inspired me. I was planning to start today with Where I’m From poems (thanks, George Ella Lyon), but have been going around in circles in my head about whether or not this might be too much sharing for my school-shy kiddos. Instead, I’m going to use Szymborska starts. I can feel the energy that will radiate from this poem, and I hope it’s just the opening they will need. Where I’m From can wait until we’re a little more sure of one another. Also, the cats – I love all the cats.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      So glad the poem inspired you today! I like that it’s got some mystery to it. There are definitely some lines that I’m not sure how to interpret. There is a great recording of Amanda Palmer reading the poem on the Brainpickings site. But there are so many ways in for writers, a lot to work with. I hear you about the Where I’m From prompt. I have found more success using it later in the year once community is established, especially with the school shy groups. And YES to all the cats. It was hard to limit myself to just one photo of Chipotle. After all, I have many months of photos of Chipotle demanding to be posted!

  2. glenda funk Avatar
    glenda funk

    I’m here for the cats and the poetry. Your poem is a wonderful way of saying you’ve never met s cat you didn’t like.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Glenda! I really do prefer all the cats. I wanted to play with line breaks for this piece but couldn’t make it work so decided to do the prose poem. I might return and play with it at some future point.

  3. arjeha Avatar

    Let’s hear it for the cats! Neat idea to take one line from a poem and use it as the basis for a writing piece. Opens up many possibilities. Glad to see you back.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks! I’ve missed slicing but also needed the blogging break. Of course my first slice back would have to be about cats!!

  4. margaretsmn Avatar

    What a fun cat piece! We have been trying to rescue a kitten for days. She/he is eating the food we put out, but I can’t entice her/him out to catch. She/he is living under steps in front of a house next to my husband’s office. Any pointers? The kitten is very responsive to calling. I just have this feeling it wants to be mine and be loved, but oh, so skittish.

  5. cross4me Avatar

    Hi Professor Ellington,
    First of all, those cute cat pictures make me smile! Are they your cats? I’m allergic to cats and therefore really shouldn’t pet them, but sometimes I ignore the doctor’s orders and give them a quick scratch. Your poem spurred me on to think about different poems students could write, just from a one word prompt. A student could pick their favorite pet or frankly anything they like and write about that. They could also include pictures with their poems. What other good writing prompts have you given students or heard of?

  6. […] quickwrite slice in response to Wislawa Syzmborska’s poem, […]

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