This week on Next Line, Please, quizmaster David Lehman doles out yet another prompt worthy of our full attention: Do the clothes we wear have things in common with masks? Do they in some way disguise us, or do they project who we are? The phrase “a wardrobe of excuses,” from Auden’s great elegy for Sigmund Freud, implies yet another reading.
Write a poem from the point of view of a garment in your closet. Dress, suit, jacket, shoes, sartorial, or stylin'. One of the pleasures of poetry is to animate an inanimate object and give it a voice. If the “apparel oft proclaims the man,” what do your clothes say about the person who inhabits them? Can the history of a person be inferred from the history of a garment?
René Magritte has a lovely painting titled Les valeurs personnelles, in which you will find an oversized comb, shaving brush, match, cake of soap, and wine glass. It illustrates one possible direction to take this prompt.
Awards will go to (1) the best poem under 16 lines, (2) the best poem in three three-line stanzas, and (3) the best brief poem. NLP regulars are well aware of your captain’s delight in brevity. Deadline: Saturday, October 6, 2018, midnight any time zone.
Visit the American Scholar's page to enter your candidate!