Evolving Origins | Lesson No. 1: Blood|Lines in Poetry

The last theme is Blood|Lines. By this I do not mean your genetic lineage; I mean who and what makes up your poetic ancestry? Which poets’ blood pours into your lines? What were some of your first poems about? (Bonus points if you can recall any or all of the first poem you wrote.) In essence, to whom do you look back on as the godparents/begetter/guiding stars of your work?

Reading Assigntment

On My Poetry Mentors” by Rachel Zucker and Arielle Greenberg

“Latin & Soul” by Victor Hernández Cruz (for Joe Bataan)

“In the Library” by Charles Simic (for Octavio Paz)

Writing Exercises

(1) Select a poem that influenced you early in your writing career. (I know it’s hard, but please limit to one.)

(2) In 2-3 sentences, recall why this particular work inspired you as poet. Try to remember details about your own life: how old you were, where you were living, what you were doing (school, work, etc) when you discovered it.

(3) Select 3 lines from the poem that strike you as particularly memorable.

(4) For this assignment, you have 2 options:

(1) Write a poem addressed to your younger poet self, and use at least one of the lines from exercise #3 (feel free to riff on it, change up the words) within the poem. The poem can be advice to your younger self, or simply reflection about the changes you’ve undergone since you’ve started writing. How have you changed? Where are you headed now? Whatever you like.


(2) Write a poem addressed to your poetry “mentor,” meaning the author of the original poem. Again, as with option (1), use at least one of the lines from exercise #3 (feel free to riff on it, change up the words) within the poem. What would you like to say to her or him? Again, this is an open assignment in terms of content.


Born to a Mexican mother and a Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a CantoMundo Fellow and the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists’ Collective, 2013). Her work is forthcoming or appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Bayou, Arts & Letters, Puerto del Sol, The Feminist Wire, Dialogist, B O D Y, Lana Turner Journal, Slice Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and elsewhere. In 2010, her story “A Way out of the Colonia” won the Editor’s Prize in Camera Obscura. A Leopold Schepp Scholar at New York University, she won the Seth Barkas Prize for Best Short Story and The Thomas Wolfe/Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Best Poetry Collection. Rosebud was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan where she earned an MFA in Poetry, and was awarded grants from the American Jewish League for Israel and the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. She was a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she completed post-graduate research. A graduate of the 2010 Women’s Work Lab at New Perspectives Theater, she is at work a new play MIDNIGHT IN MATAMOROS with Bob Teague of Truant Arts; it will feature music by Carlton Zeus.  Her plays have been produced in New York City, Washington DC and Toronto. Rosebud is an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and at work on her first novel, The Imitation of Crying.