Poem Writing Exercise for National Poetry Month #NPM

Volunteer Muse offers Inspiration--

So, here's today's spark--

This was a writing exercise from Julia Darling of the UK--

Poetry can be a brilliant way of exploring the things you don't know. Let me explain. Often we write too literally, too logically or self-consciously, when it is the imaginative connections - the leaps of faith, the connections between images and words - that are interesting to the writer and the reader. Poetry is an odd combination of creative energy and technical ability. In this exercise we are trying to let ourselves free fall, then working on the poem to give it shape. I like poetry to be useful, and I think that by writing about what we don't know we can explore all kinds of ideas within our minds, and help ourselves, too.

1 Write the instructions for doing something you have no idea about, for example:

How To Fly
How To Disappear (as in Amanda Dalton's lovely poem of that name)

Or even more specifically:
How To Speak To Lions
How To Start A Revolution
How To Make A Wedding Dress
How To Build a Space Ship

The only rule is that you don't know how to do the thing, so if you work in rocket science, you can't do the last one. But you could choose something emotional like How To Speak To The Dead, or even How To Fall In Love, because none of us really know the answers to these things.

2 Make a list. If you were telling us how to fly you might write things such as, make wings using sugar, water and wire, find an open space, and so on. Your list might have quite bizarre things on it; as always with poetry, go for the specific not the general.

3 Play with the list. List poems are fun, but they need to work on another level, too. Why does the writer want to fly? Where do they want to go? Try to make your poem build up, have a kind of swell, so that all the images gather together to make a whole.

4 Think about the shape of the poem on the page. Is it ragged and inconsistent? Does it need a trim? Make a decision about punctuation. Do you need any? Where are the line breaks? Read the poem out to find out if the vowel sounds are pleasing. Poems should have a kind of music, and feel good to say aloud.

Here's a lin
k to Julia's How Topoem, however, if you're like me, you may want to read it AFTER you've written your poem. 

~ Kells

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