This exercise is simple: write a poem about a family member meeting a famous person. All of us have such incidents embedded in family history or folklore: the day Dad shook hands with Ike in France; the time Mom spilled coffee on Elizabeth Taylor in a pizza parlour in San Mateo; the night Aunt Dottie caught Elvis’s scarf when he tossed it from the stage of The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. In most cases, our loved ones’ encounters with the famous or powerful tend to be fleeting and bittersweet, however memorable they may later seem — and it’s this aspect of the encounter that helps us to envision our family members in contexts that avoid easy sentimental gestures. These are situations that, in a small way, the forces of public history and private history collide, and these meetings help us to see our loved ones as individuals, not as types.
Guidleines for the exercise:
- The encounter can be real or imaginary, but at least should be plausible — no meeting between Cousin Ed and Genghis Khan
- The family member, not the famous person, should of course be the protagonist of the poem and it is his or her consciousness that the poem should try to enter or understand.
- The writer of the poem should be an effaced presence, understanding the inner workings of the family member’s mind but seeing the family member as a character referred to in the third person (“my father” and not “Dad,” in other words).
- The famous person can be anyone in politcs, entertainment, or the arts; JFK to Mel Gibson, Emily Brontë to Madonna
- Since the exercise tends to demand a fairly complex profile or portrait of the family member in question, it is best suited to longer poems — at least 30 lines.
- Submit completed poems via trackback
- Take a news article (from your RSS aggregator, for example)
- Take some scissors
- Print the article
- Get a small bag (pencil case, ziplock, lunch bag)
- Cut the article into bits, one word per bit.
- Put the bits into the bag
- Shake gently(the bag, duh!)
- Take out each bit one by one and copy conscientiously in the order each bit left the bag
- The poem will resemble you
And there you are – an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.
BTW: Dada, Dadaism, Dadaist
- Use pencil crayons to draw a picture of your mother’s kitchen.
- Put the oven in it, and also something green, and something dead.
- Write a poem about your mother’s kitchen.
- You are not in this poem, but some female relation – aunt, sister, close friend – must walk into the kitchen during the course of the poem.
- Completed poems, with a suitable image(72 dpi, png, lightbox), should appear in your blog and trackback here.
A lesson on single point perspective. Hint: Tiles need an extra diagonal, too.
Your task is to complete Writing Activity 1 from my canpoets blog.
Just following those instructions will not be enough, however.
Your assignment will not be complete until a “trackback” or “pingback” appears in the comment section on my Writing Activity 1 post.
I’ll have a bag of cookies on standby. Cookie of choice to STJ blogger(s) who completes a pingback trackback of the Canadian outback.
Write as quickly as you can and as much as you can using the following list of 4 words in addition to a few spontaneously selected words.
Then remove the listed words from your writing and leave a set of () behind.
Next to each listed word add an “==>”
Shut your eyes, think about a word from the list, let the mind “translate” the idea into an image. Write down an image corresponding to each word.
Reinsert these translated images into your ().
Restructure the piece into poetry. Remove words, add line breaks and spacing.
Do not add rhyme.
Write a ten-line poem. Find a proverb, adage, familiar phrase, or brainy quote that you have changed in some way as well as five of the following words: cliff, blackberry, needle, cloud, voice, mother, whir, lick.
You have ten minutes.
We will be practising poetry posting permanently. Please create categories in your sidebars to begin sorting it all into manageable hierarchies. (Dashboard=>Manage=> Links=>Link Categories).
Turn off moderation from your Dashboard==>Options ==>Discussion.
Begin your post with the first line of a poem. Now you go to someone else’s blog and comment the next line. (Meanwhile your post will collect lines for your poem.)
Try to post one line on everyone’s blog.
When you commented on all posts go back to your post and cut and paste as much as you like into a new poem.
Post your finished poem.