Fortune Cookie Refrain Line Prompt (by Lynn Levin)

Lynn Levin
Lynn Levin

If you break open enough fortune cookies, pretty soon you’ll find a fortune with enough mystery, pithiness, and flexibility to serve as a refrain line in a villanelle or pantoum.  So have dinner in a Chinese restaurant, and you just might find that your dessert brings you a great line for a poem.

The fortune-cookie-refrain-line prompt is very effective in class. I sometimes buy a quantity of fortune cookies and hand them out in class, usually two to a student. Chances are at least one of the fortunes will work as a refrain line…and the students enjoy the snack.

Some of my students have written amazing poems with fortune cookie refrain lines.

–Lynn Levin

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