As I elongated each minute
This adventure became a tragedy
And to celebrate I’ll plant a tree.
We going make it out the mud.
Ideas piled up bodies on the ladder to discovery of nothing
Choked by the void between you and me.
You see the covers of the cold-blooded and the unfazed:
Didn’t you know the world would hate you
Before you even knew there was something
Inside you worth the hating?
But flowers still thrive in the same ground
Where the dead are buried
In a box collapsed under the strain of my last hopes and dreams.
Nobody will know the extent of your hurt.
They’re all so much happier than you.
How do you look from their point of view?
Time for some water.
More drunk isn’t hotter.
To what do I owe the days?
By Sarah Goldberg, Tommy Begley, Eliot Precetti, Henry Williams, James Gosfield, Michelle Zhong, Io Zhong, Wills Martin, Weid Hassan, Julia McNeill, Graham Myhill, Josh Rouzer, Seth Lobo, and Elliot Richards.
Explanatory note by Lynn Levin, Drexel University: We covered rap poems and spoken-word poems in my advanced poetry-writing class at Drexel University the summer of 2019. The class presented their poems in an improvisational fashion. We began by having one student read his poem. The class listened carefully to the poem, and then the student whose poem related in some way thematically or imagistically to the first read her poem. We continued in this fashion of reading by connected texts until all the students had shared their work. As each student read his or her poem, he or she was asked to write one line from the poem on our cento-building sheet. Then I typed up the lines on the cento sheet. What emerged was an intense poem of philosophical and emotional angst. I borrowed this improv and cento technique from Hayden Saunier’s poetry troupe No River Twice.
This new edition contains six new chapters and scores of new example poems.
A variety of exercises plus writings by: Alicia Askenase, Brenda Bailey, Christopher Bursk, Karen Chase, Grant Clauser, Samuel Cook, Blythe Davenport, Janice Dawson, Jim Ellis, Daniela Elza, Emily Dickinson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Joanna Fuhrman, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Leonard Gontarek, Luray Gross, Lauren Hall, Christine Hamm, Laurel Hostak, Kevin Hughes, Marke Kane, Briyanna Hymms, Miriam N. Kotzin, Aimee LaBrie, Joanne Leva, Harriet Levin, Lynn Levin, Diane Lockward, Alina Macneal, Dawn Manning, Erin McCourt, Bernadette McBride, Kelly McQuain, Jerry Mirskin, Mirna Norales, Amir Or, Meg Pokrass, Lisa Prince, Don Riggs, Melika Riley, Josh Romley, Karen Schauber, Susan Smith Nash, Anna Strong, Benjamin Teperov, Rina Terry, Heather H. Thomas, John Timpane, John Vick, Marshall Warfield, Katrina Wehr, Amberlyn Wilk, Devin Williams, Jacquiley Wong, Peter Wood.
Make a list of song titles from an album. You could select the collection at random, perhaps one you have on hand, or alternatively you could select a collection that has specific meaning for you, already.
For example, here are the titles from“Johnny’s Greatest Hits” (Johnny Mathis, Columbia).
All the time
The twelfth of never
When sunny gets blue
When I am with you
It’s not for me to say
Come to me
Wild is the wind
Warm and tender
I look at you
Use the titles as the spine or structure for a writing. I love vinyl and tried it with quite a few collections. I was doubtless influenced by the object itself, the photographs, memories associated with the music or the physical object, etc. As the goal for the first draft, at least…
Grey day; warm for the season. ‘If anyone knows any reason…’ intones the priest, hearing the palpable intake of breath. A breeze flutters the feathers, salmon-pink, of the bride’s mother’s hat. Her sneezes ricochet off the ancient church stones. A cough, an embarrassed giggle, a ripple stirs through the congregation. The bride’s father compresses his elastic face into a deeper frown. Fecund and sullen, the swelling bride clasps her groom’s sweaty hand, his ratty moustache too small for his upper lip. The bride’s mother cries harder into her hankie. Silence stretches to snapping point. The priest smiles.
Helen Chambers is a flash and short fiction writer who likes taking long walks seeking inspiration by the river where she lives in Essex, UK. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Essex, and is the 2018 Fish Short Story winner. She blogs at HelenChambersWriter.wordpress.com