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Unique Love Poems

April 13, 2009

Make a list of words that you expect to find in a love poem, then set it aside. Now make another list—this time, of traditionally unromantic words. When you're ready to start your poem, think of what it might take for each of those unromantic words and images to suddenly seem romantic. Write a poem that describes (or imagines) a moment that shouldn't have been romantic but was—but without using words from your first list. More >

Using Common Senses

April 7, 2009

Write a poem about a common experience (walking home from school, taking off in an airplane, waiting to be served at a restaraunt), and pay particular attention to when and how you conjur each of the five senses. Remember the power of metaphor: attempt to describe the scene using senses that are not literally present in your memory, but which feel the most true. In revision, remove unnecessary description to emphasize the effect of your favorite lines. More >

Nature Haiku

April 4, 2009

Choose a moment in daily life through which you recently interacted with nature in a surprising way. Write a haiku that conveys the moment through images, striving to be true to the traditional rules of the form, especially the compressed, three-line structure. Select your images carefully, paying close attention to what is offered through the proximity of the images, rather than only through the images themselves. More >

Biographical Persona

April 1, 2009

Choose a biographical figure, famous or not, and write a dramatic monologue from their unique perspective. Be careful not to offer your own commentary, and instead explore the inner life of the individual. If it is helpful, select a pivotal moment in the person's life and plan to let the poem end there. More >

Poems Based on Works of Art

March 19, 2009

A poem based on a picture or work of art is called an ekphrasis. Write a poem in three stanzas that is based on an image or work of art. In the first stanza, focus solely on description. In the following stanzas, take your own approach: you can continue to describe, impose a narrative on the scene, or reveal something about yourself or the artist. In revision, pay careful attention represent all of the senses in your description. More >

Give Chance a Chance

March 17, 2009

Read and listen to Jackson Mac Low's poem "Stein 100: A Feather Likeness of the Justice Chair," as well as the poet's note on what chance operations were used. Then select two source texts and create a new poem using your own chance operations. Be creative. The more steps you go through to transform the texts, the more original the poem you produce will be. When finished, include an author's note to let your reader understand how the poem was made. More >

Unexpected Odes

March 16, 2009

Try writing an ode to something unexpected: traffic jams, divorce, the flu, a cockroach. Challenge yourself to describe your chosen object or idea through flourishes of romantic language. Aim to convince your reader of the true and hidden worth you've discovered.
More >

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