Sunday, February 26, 2012

Game #4 - Imaginary Travels to Secret States

Without mentioning the state by name, and without using any details that would identify the state to the average reader, write a poem about an imaginary trip to a U.S. state that you have never visited. 

If you choose Texas for example, you may not specifically mention the Alamo in your poem.  However, you could mention Roman Catholic mission/fortress compounds of the 19th century (not specifically the Alamo), the Gulf of Mexico (not limited to Texas) or your Aunt Mary (presumably unknown to the average reader) from Houston (though you may not mention Houston itself).

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Game #3 - Where Songs Occur

In as random a fashion as you like, find a song and listen to it.  You can select a song from the last 10 songs in your itunes play history, or if you listen to records you could go to your crates and pull something out that you haven't listened to in a long time.  If you are driving, turn on the radio and find a station playing a style of music that you usually don't listen to.  Then turn off the road to write your poem.

Keep these writing instructions in mind when listening.  

1.  When the song ends, write a  poem of between six and ten lines.

2.  Use a phrase or sentence from the song somewhere in your poem.  If the song has no lyrics use your imagination. 

3.  In a short phrase or sentence, summarize what you would consider to be a central theme/idea of the song.  This will be the title of your poem.

4.  Where were you when you listened to the song?  Include this physical (or non-physical) space somewhere in your poem.

5.  What physical (or non-physical) space did the song evoke for you?  Include this space somewhere in your poem.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Game #2 - Tampopo

Write a set of poems
that could act as recipe(s)
for an actual

dinner.  Poems must be
in haiku format.  Dinner
must be edible.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Game #1 - 1994

I found the following while going through some old notebooks.  While it is so old (and my memory so poor) that I can't provide many details of its origin, it was definitely inspired by writing exercises assigned by William Harrold in several writing workshops I took with him during the 1990s.  Those exercises involved sometimes complex scavenger hunts for words and imagery that forced elements from outside the poet's safety zone into his poems, and to some extent removed the poet from the center of his own poetry.  To some, this was un-nerving, and these exercises always met with mixed responses.  To me, the exercises opened up the windows of my poems and let breezes blow through them (along with the balloon horses and california condors that drifted in along with the fresh air).   Ideas I was first exposed to in those classes continue to reverberate in my writing years later.   So when I came across this poem recipe in an old spiral notebook dated 1994, it seemed like a good place to begin. 

Compose a 14 line poem using the following rules:

a.  Choose a movie title at random from a standard video guide.  This title will either appear in the poem, or somehow represent a theme or motif in the poem.

b.  The poem's first line should include the poet's name as an anagram (for example the first line of Jim's poem might be "Just imagining magenta, I think of the jacket").
c.  Include three of the following in the poem: one bird, one piece of fruit, one musical reference, and a reference to an event that occured in the year of the poet's birth.

d.  The title of the poem should include both a number and a color.

e.  The last line of the poem should end-rhyme with the first line.

f.   Find a quotation from a scientific text.  Use this quotation (and reference it) as an epigraph for the poem.


Welcome to the Last Words of Walt Whitman.  I plan to use this blog as a starting point for various writing exercises.  I hope others find it useful, and welcome any feedback.