Self-portrait as list – a prompt

Hello everyone, it’s a sunny Monday morning here at Celebrating Change Blog HQ, and I think we’re long overdue another writing prompt. So here is a little snippet of what we got up to at our May session, which you might like to try as well.

We started out by reading this wonderful poem by Jacqueline Saphra, published in her TS Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection All My Mad Mothers, which you can buy from Nine Arches Press (or order at your local library).

My Mother’s Bathroom Armoury (click here to hear Jacqueline reading it)

Beehive proppers backcomb teasers

Pinpoint pluck of fearsome tweezers

Leak of mouthwash morbid flavour

Dutch-cap dusted snap-shut cover

Glint of sin and lure of danger

Woman’s flesh a fading treasure

Braced for pain but honed for pleasure


Caked on flakes of failed concealer

Tell-tale cheeks of blusher-stealer

Crimson smear of lipstick wearer

Smile expander mouth preparer

Burning bleach a making-over

Smudged remains of caked mascara

Iron clamp of eyelash curler

Usual instruments of torture

Bath brimful of scented water

Mother’s tricks will pass to daughter


This year   next year   sometime   never


Lots of discussion ensued! We made our own lists of objects that in some way defined us, or which gave an insight into a person close to us. We tried to keep our focus on the things within a small or defined space. We thought about objects in our handbags, our car glove compartments, our fridges. We wrote about the apps we have on our phone and what they say about our interests and priorities. We thought about objects we have lost, or been forced to leave behind us. We remembered the stuff we used to use on a daily basis, but which now dates us and highlights all the small changes that happen in the mundane course of our lives. In a very short time we had the beginnings of some really interesting self-portraits – perhaps you’d like to have a go too?

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