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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Last week I tried a writing prompt with interesting results. I think I got this prompt from Diane Lockward's excellent monthly newsletter (which you can sign up to receive at Diane Lockward's blog here), but I'm not entirely sure, since I jotted the exercise down in my notebook but failed to cite the source (sorry!).

Here's the deal. Choose a poem you admire or like, or one that has huge leaps in it (that last suggestion is mine). Delete every other line, as in, delete all the even-numbered lines or all the odd-numbered lines. Fill the emptly lines in with your own  words.

Next, delete the lines which you did not delete before, the ones that remain from the original poem. If you deleted the even-numbered lines before, now delete the odd-numbered ones, and vice verse. Now fill in those lines with your own words, so that the only lines that remain are ones which you have written. Voila, you have a new poem, which should have the same number of lines as the original, but contain none of the original lines in it at this point.

This exercise was tons of fun for me as, having chosen a poem with big leaps in it as the original, I had to make tremendous leaps of my own to fill the alternating lines in. It was challenging and exciting and much out of my comfort zone, which often elicits interesting results. I highly recommend this exercise to you. In fact, I've chosen two more poems to work with next, as this was such a fruitful exercise for me.

So go write.

Or, if you have a favorite prompt of your own, do tell.


Judy Etzler said...

Thank you for your poetry blog. I've recently subscribed and you have given me new energy to write. Judy

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Thank you for taking the time to comment. Sometimes I get discouraged too, wondering why I bother to blog, but then someone like you reminds me. Good luck with your writing.