Sixteen uses for a lamp – meditation-poem


Back in the 1980s, writer Marion Winik wrote an unusual essay about her relationship with her father.  It’s called “Sixteen Pictures of My Father.”  It’s a memoir essay told through sixteen individual scenes or pictures.  We read this essay last week at my conference.  Below is a excerpt; click on the title to read the full essay.  I’ll wait!

Sixteen Pictures of My Father (Marion Winik, Chicago Reader)

1. A small, square, black-and-white photograph with a scalloped white edge on which the date, May 1959, is printed in small type. I am the curly-headed baby in a white party dress sitting up on Daddy’s shoulder eating a strawberry. Boyishly handsome in his crew-neck sweater and grown-out GI haircut, he smiles up at me, squinting into the sun. He is 30, I am one, we are in love.

2. Twenty-five years later. My father and I at my younger sister’s wedding, a beautiful summer day at the golf club. . . .

Are you back?  Great!

My take

Sketch by Theresa Barker.

This week I took my one of my “sketch-a-day” projects – to draw a lamp – and I combined it with ideas from Winik’s “Sixteen Pictures” essay to create a new meditation-poem.  Here it is.

Sixteen Uses for a Lamp

  1.  To shoo away the darkness.

  2. To light the pages of a book in the corner of your living room when a storm is raging outside.

  3. To show you where the scars are.

  4. To find an honest one.

  5. To prove that inventions are possible.

  6. To hold down the newspaper when the windows are open and it might fly away.

  7. To warm a face.

  8. To be the last thing that is turned off at night and the first thing that is turned on in the morning.

  9. To help you look into your lover’s eyes.

  10. To keep monsters in the closet in a child’s room.

  11. To be the light of the party.

  12. To illuminate the wrinkles of wisdom in a loved one’s face.

  13. To be part of an easy spelling list.

  14. To use up electricity so that the electrical meter will spin faster.

  15. To show a film.

  16. To make one glad there is light in the world.

  17. (bonus – surreal/zen) Because the orange is tardy.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Your thoughts?

If you’re a writer, photographer, textile artist, I’m sure you must be inspired by certain other writer or artists . . . thanks for looking at my thoughts today!

32 thoughts on “Sixteen uses for a lamp – meditation-poem

  1. I love the inspiration of sixteen images of the father and then tying that same inspiration into something equally as familiar. I love the images of a lover’s eyes, wisdom on a loved one’s face, to make one glad there’s light in the world and finally the last and beginning of a day. All points any age can connect with regardless of where they reside. Beautifully crated Theresa.
    How was the conference? Did you meet a lot of other writers?
    I’m halfway thru my writing course. A lot of writing and rewriting thus far so I am definitely hitting my daily mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lyn! I love that you are in a writing course, that’s great. Remind me, is it online or in person? And, you are hitting your daily mark? That is so COOL! I’ve been striving to get back into my routine after returning from the conference, and you are my inspiration!
      And I love your very kind comments about my post. Thank you!

      The conference was good – I learned a TON about writing essays and making nonfiction more interesting. The class was the same every day (two hours every morning), so we had 14 writers and the instructor all together over the week. I did get acquainted with some of the writers in the class, although I didn’t meet many others – which is okay as well. It can be a little overwhelming. How about you, have you gone to a writing conference that you like? 🙂


      1. The writing course is in person, there are 8 of us that meet once a week on Thursday over in Newtown. We have assignments that we email to the instructor and he sends us comments back and if needed we resubmit the work for more feedback.
        There is also another writing group I meet with in person in Langhorne that does reading for 10 minutes of something an author brings to share and then 10 minutes of critique from a group that averages 15-20 each week. Not everyone reads, it is a sign-up, first come, first serve but everyone participates in the critiques.
        I do 2 online blogging groups on where I provide writing prompts and respond to their entries as well as my role of moderator facilitating the activities are done without causing friction. Occasionally, I sleep just not often.


      1. Yes, and yesterday I had a big setback when the neighbor’s tree trimmers let big branches fall on my yard and ruin stuff, including a rare-ish cactus we had been growing for ten years. Now dealing with that :(.


      2. A neighbor’s tree trimmers??? Augh,that is terrible. I can picture your precious cactus – my dad lived in the Phoenix area and I have family up near the Phoenix Mtn. Reserve neighborhood – those cactus can be so beautiful and they take forever to grow. Such a bummer!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The owner of the tree trimming company came over today and took responsibility, so hopefully he will pay for one the same size so that we don’t have to wait 10 years again!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! Thanks for your kind note about the sketch – did you see the cross-hatch shading? That was from your suggestion! And, thank you for telling me you loved the wrinkles of wisdom idea. That is one of my favorites, too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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