A text & a prompt: “October Light” by Charles Simic

Read this poem, discuss, and write to a prompt.

1. Read the poem

Originally printed in the New Yorker on October 24, 1994

by Charles Simic

That same light by which I saw her last
Made me close my eyes now in reverie,
Remember how she sat in the garden

With a red shawl over her shoulders
And a small book on her lap.
Once in a long while looking up

With the day’s brightness on her face,
As to appraise something of utmost seriousness
She has just read at least twice,

With the sky clear and open to view,
Because the leaves had already fallen
And lay still around her two feet.

2. Discuss the poem

Consider question such as:

  • What happens in the poem?
  • What is the mood?
  • Who’s the “her”?

3. Write to a prompt

Set your clock to 4 or 5 minutes, no more. Here is a prompt to try, but feel free to come up with a different one.

Write about a person you see in the light of reverie.

4. Share

You can do this by yourself, but if you have the opportunity to share the experience with a friend, family member, colleague or anyone else, try to read to one another what you wrote. Do not preface your writing with apologies or descriptions (no “Sorry, this was rushed/incomplete/etc…”), and do not change it as you read. Read exactly the words on the page.

If you listen to a partner read, think about the language, mood, narrator, and other aspects of the written story. The plot is important, but so is what you can recognize in the writing itself.




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