This prompt has three steps:
- Bring to mind the home setting from your childhood. If you moved around, choose the setting that feels most familiar, or made the most impact on your psyche (your sense of self or spirit).
- Read the short correspondence below, in which Niall Griffiths and Paul Farley describe the place of their childhood. Notice how they each zoom in, but in different ways. Griffiths directs us closer and closer to his home through the repeated phrase “go to the...” Farley, on the other hand, descends upon his home via Google Earth.
Go to the city at the western edge of the country and then go to the edge of that city, the north-eastern edge, the very rim, beyond which you’re not in Liverpool any more, but Lancashire. The place is called Netherley, and it lies between Prescot, Knotty Ash, West Derby, and Knowsley; it’s little more than a large housing project called the Woodlands Estate, abutting farmland. I was brought up on that estate, from the age of around three to nine. So was Paul Farley…
I parachute in using Google Earth: the planet, Europe, Britain, north-west England, Merseyside, and there, bulging out like a tiny hernia into the green, is the estate where we grew up, the circuitry of its streets and squares, the last place in an unbroken accretion that blooms outward in all directions like grey lichen from the mouth of the Mersey. I drop right down and steer by the main roads, hoping to recognize old haunts among the rooftops and car parks, fields and waste ground, the crowns of trees dark against olive greens and khakis. I struggle to make the imaginative shifts in scale, to put myself back in that time and place and to understand how, for fifteen years, this was my universe.
3. Now take us to your own home by zooming in. Borrow the structure from Griffiths, starting with: “Go to the…”
Or from Farley: “I parachute in using Google Earth…”
(The passage above is excerpted from “Netherley,” a written correspondence between two authors.)
- What sensory details might help the reader understand this place (smell, sound, sight, taste, touch)?
- What mood or feeling can you evoke through this description of place? Think about what emotions we subconsciously attach to certain colors and sounds. Consider how temperature, time of day, and weather have the power to create tone...
- Can you include a simile in your description (a figure of speech that compares two unlike things, using the word ‘like’ or ‘as’)? Notice how Farley deftly weaves two similes into one sentence, helping us to see the geography: "...and there, bulging out like a tiny hernia into the green, is the estate where we grew up, the circuitry of its streets and squares, the last place in an unbroken accretion that blooms outward in all directions like grey lichen from the mouth of the Mersey."