This poetry writing prompt submitted by Tresha Haefner:
Becoming the Villain
1. Name a type of character in a film or movie that is NOT like you, but that you sometimes wish you could play. For example, I’m almost always cast as the villain, or the overly-controlling mother. I’m never cast as the love-interest or the innocent young girl.
2. Name some of the stereotypes about this character. Draw from real examples if you can. Include things they do, and things they wear or use. For example, the innocent young girl is almost always pretty, red lips, long hair. She is shorter than the hero, in need of rescue, wears dresses, finds herself on a bed at some point, like snow-white or sleeping beauty, etc. Lots of them are princesses and live in castles.
SELF-PORTRAIT AS FILM NOIR VILLAINESS
Leggy, emerging from shadow in a hat and veil,
dress dark as blood – red silk, perhaps, or black velvet,
liquid in the chiaroscuro. A train station, and me with a mysterious
errand of vengeance, poison with a suitcase and a mission.
If you can, imagine my background as disheveled, neglected child
with ratty hair, a nefarious case of missing persons,
and all the scenes take place in a rainstorm.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the back of police cars,
I’m intimate with the make and model of the kind of gun
you’re holding in your hand right now. I wear gloves
even in warm weather. I’m really a cipher, a plot device,
a way to let the men be heroic or not in the inevitable last scene
where I throw myself in front of the bullet, or drive into the frozen
lake. Don’t be fooled by my satin glamour, the smoothness of my hair
and skin; it’s been a rough ride always assuming the mistaken identity,
the murderer’s weapon, the high heeled shoe that just catches the light.
Prompt: Write about yourself from the POV of this assumed identity. What are you really like? What do people not understand about you? What are they missing? You may consider your secret, unspoken background, your hidden motivations, etc. For example, “You think it’s nice to be the princess? This beautiful and weak. Once the feminist movement hit my kingdom everyone expected me to get a real job, to start taking care of myself instead of letting the princes from neighboring kingdoms rescue me.” If you don’t feel like writing from the POV of the character, maybe try writing to them, asking them questions. For example, “Dear Disney Princesses, Is it hard to stay so beautiful? Especially while dodging evil stepmothers and snake-faced witches? Tell me, what kind of moisturizer do you use up there in your tower? Do you steal your step-sisters razors when they aren’t looking so you can shave your legs? Do you bite your lip to get the blood flow red and pink? . . .
If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.