Solar Eclipse 2017
Call for Writing and Readers
Homestead National Monument of America
Saturday, August 19th (1 - 2 pm) -- Heritage Center Stage
Sunday, August 20th (2 - 3 pm) -- Heritage Center Stage
Eclipse-inspired writings will be read on the stage at the Homestead on the two days prior to the Monday Solar Eclipse, and we invite writers and performers from the Southeast Nebraska and surrounding area to contact Michael Knisely or Homestead National Monument of America to submit work and sign up to read (up to 5 minutes) original work to celebrate the oncoming Eclipse.
Look through writing prompts (below) and/or download the accompanying Eclipse 2017 Creative Writing Workbook for inspiration and blank pages to utilize if desired (or to illustrate with visual art!). Beyond the Eclipse event, we will be putting together an electronic Eclipse Anthology of writings and other artwork relating to the Eclipse and its aftermath.
Solar Eclipse 2017 Writing Prompts
by Michael Knisely
I. Experiencing The Solar Eclipse Itself
A. Heed the Scientific Community Advice:1. Do wear NASA-recommended glasses if looking at the eclipse.
2. If you are within the path of Eclipse Totality, you have nearly three minutes to risk your eyesight if you are compelled to look at this rarest Crossing of Paths, but using these glasses is the way to go.
B. Pay close attention to the world around you, using every sense that you can to apprehend the feel of the air, the smells – breathing in and out – tasting what passes across your tongue/throat/lips, and listening even to the grass and leaves in whatever wind or breeze. Take note, and remember these when you finally can write out what you have experienced and felt and come to know.
C. Bask in this long shadow, take it all in, and good luck in putting any of this into words, where language often struggles to convey epiphany.
D. Look around you, before, during, after, to celebrate this moment of Community.
E. Experiencing the Eclipse, obscured by Clouds:
1. Follow the same guidelines as above, since the Eclipse is still happening, come Rain or come Shine, cloud cover merely an extra layering to accept as something bigger than you or me, beyond our control. How does it FEEL.
2. Your place in the world at this moment in time will resonate regardless of what the atmosphere allows for our nourishment, entertainment, remembering.
II. Expressing yourself in the Eclipse AftermathA. Like a cloud gathering enough moisture to begin to rain, let your own thoughts condense and let go when they reach that precipitation point:
1. Any immediate, initial thoughts, still grounded in sensory detail
2. How this event fits into the Bigger Picture of our collective experience
B. Stepping outside yourself, speaking from a “persona” voice, another perspective (for example, speaking as The Sky, The Moon, The Sun (Where did Earth go?), or any creature here below; “be” the other entity, try not to Anthropomorphosize: think Emily Dickinson’s “butterfly” voice, “My cocoon tightens, colors tease…”)
III. Writing In Preparation For and/or Beyond the Scope of the Eclipse focusA. Your own Autobiography
1. Write about the Story of your Name (birth name, nicknames, preferences)
2. Where you fit into Family (nuclear, extended)
3. Your earliest Memory
4. Your First Time in Big Trouble (and more recent times)
5. Your first Loss (and more recent losses, not necessarily deaths)
6. Other significant Turning Points (epiphanies, new awarenesses)
7. Encounters with other Celestial Events of note (Flora, fauna, minerals!)
B. Beyond the Self
1. Witness to someone else’s world experiences, as observer/biographer
2. Meditations on the Big Picture, our Galaxy, and Beyond.
About the Author: Michael Knisely was born in Humboldt, Nebraska, on September 1st, 1950, to parents Jim and Alice Ann (Sandy) Conger Knisely. Michael graduated from Beatrice High School in 1968. Along the way, Michael’s 4th grade teacher, Zoe Ann Worden (Beatrice Historian, author of Queen City of the Blue), introduced her students to ornithology. To this day, he can tell you almost any bird from their calls alone. He attended Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska where he taught English (1997 – 2002). He earned his BA (1977) and MFA (1989, Poetry) from the University of Arizona in Tucson, living there until his return to Lincoln (1990 – 2005). He has also taught composition and creative writing at Southeast Community College beginning in 1999. Michael has been living in Colorado for the past decade and continues to teach, write, and photograph the world around him. Family and friends bring him regularly back to Nebraska, his historical, ornithological, and spiritual home.
Last updated: May 3, 2018