How to write from an animal’s point of view
To kick off National Poetry Month, I’m sharing a poem from my poetry book, “The Dragon & The Dragonfly.”
The idea for the poem came from a prompt to write from an animal’s point of view. I’d just read an article about my favorite author Neil Gaiman’s time in Tasmania helping with a documentary on the Tasmanian Cave Spider, so that’s the creature I chose.
How did the poem come together?
I did a little reading on the spider—habitat, habits, etc., and made a list of the things that interested me. Then I imagined the spider speaking to me. What advice would it give me? Was it a funny spider or a serious spider? As I contemplated who my spider was, I started hearing it tell me a story (don’t worry it’s a writer thing…I don’t really hear voices…well, not usually).
As it turned out, my spider had lived a very long time and had some great advice to pass on to us humans.
Try writing a poem or a short story from an animal’s point of view. Pick an animal and write down your ideas and questions. You never know what you might learn.
Advice from a Male Tasmanian Cave Spider
Spin gracefully. Feed on anything big enough or dumb
enough to jump, fly, or fall into your web. Don’t be a glutton.
Save some for later or invite friends for a feast.
Create strong structures. Hang by your own thread.
Practice disjointedness whenever you can. Save
your venom for special occasions.
Perpetuate your mythos of mystery and doom.
Scuttle across cave ceilings. Lurk in darkness.
Spend time in your inner cave. Throw shadows
across the walls to scare scientists studying you
for their documentary. Haunt the author
of Coraline so he writes you into his next novel.
Cultivate a following. Flaunt your prehistoric nature.
Don’t worry if smaller-minded relatives make fun of you.
They don’t live for decades or stretch the length of a dinner plate.
Develop a fondness for large-bellied females. Pluck your web
nightly to attract a mate. Knead her softly with your long legs.
Spread her fangs apart so she can’t kill you.
Remember, you have eight legs, but sixteen when making love.
Learn to embrace change in case one day you find yourself
squinting into the light.