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Twenty Little Tuesday Tryouts

03 Apr

7:40 a.m. –Atlanta

Hello, all. I can hear the gasps as your eyes flick over the post. It looks more frightening than it is. Really. Think about it: I got through it. Can you cheat? Of course.

Bur, first, an assignment as prep for next week’s prompt. The good news is that you may be able to use much of what you collect as fodder for the poems-a-day sites. Keep pen and paper by you any time you watch television over the next seven days. If you don’t usually watch much television, for this week, pick channels like National Geographic, the news, or The Discovery Channel, and give thirty minutes a day to it. The premise of next week’s exercise is: Things I learned from watching t.v..The lines below are another person’s. I will give you his name and the whole poem next week, so you can see what he did, but these few lines show you what we are heading for.

– Watching Wildebeest roam The Serengeti makes me sleepy
– Flocks of migrating birds look like dots on a big screen
– I still don’t understand basic science or maths
– Teaching history is “key in the 21st century”
– History is not being taught in many schools
– Much of modern art is thought provoking
– A lot of modern art is not very good, expensive trash

If you have no television, be creative. We are heading for a list poem on a week of observations and what we learned from some one thing.

For today, I want to give you the exercise by itself, then broken up, so you can see how I answered each step, and the final draft. I wanted to put a working draft in to show the transition to the final piece, but this isn’t a post on revision! The exercise comes from Jim Simmerman who originally designed it for a creative writing class, titling it ‘Twenty Little Poetry Projects,’ and now uses it the way I do, as a strategy when the brain is not moving forward with an idea.

Steps

1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in
succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
4. Use one example of synesthesia [mixing the senses].
5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
8. Use a word [slang?] you’ve never seen in a poem.
9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10. Use a piece of talk you’ve heard [preferably in dialect and/or
which you don’t understand].
11. Create a metaphor using the following construction:The
[adjective] [concrete noun] of [abstract noun]…
12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative
qualities.
13. Make the character in the poem do something he/she could not
do in real life.
14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15. Write in the future tense such that part of the poem sounds like a
prediction.
16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that
finally makes no sense.
18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19. Personify an object.
20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but
that echoes an image from earlier in the poem.

I was going nuts while typing the drafts from my old notes. I kept wanting to fix things and get rid of verbs of being. I also had to decipher the original below my first revisions.

I am a concrete person with my writing. When I first tried this, I was sitting on our bed, in Jakarta, because that was my work space. I was feeling downhearted with life — I wrote the first line. I had a small Persian carpet next to me I was staring at while trying to figure out how to do this prompt — I wrote the next line…

1] I am a prisoner without walls
2] among the flowers of my Persian carpet vines/weeds are beginning to sprout

Once I had a focus, a direction, I found the exercise much easier to carry out. I don’t think I can write this exercise without knowing where I am going. It would be interesting to try, though. Randomness has merit.

Steps with my first draft
1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
1] I am a prisoner without walls
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
2] among the flowers of my Persian carpet vines/weeds are beginning to sprout
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in
succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
3] They twine and curl reaching for me pulling me down into the fields of silk and wool; as I slide through warp and weft I hear the rustle of thread grasses. My nostrils fill with the pungency of sheep and goats and I taste the dryness of dust.
4. Use one example of synesthesia [mixing the senses].
4] The dampness of a blue silk river runs through my ears.
5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
5] Nearby, Omar Khayyam sits writing under a date palm, the white minarets of Nineveh on the horizon.
6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
6] If a carpet can have a horizon.
7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
7] The hunt was on; turbaned caliphs on Arabian steeds, bows and arrows slung across their backs, chased a leopard peering forever across his shoulder.
8. Use a word [slang?] you’ve never seen in a poem.
8]Tally ho and an arrow is loosed never hitting its mark,
9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
9] suspended eternally in mid-air by silken threads.
10. Use a piece of talk you’ve heard [preferably in dialect and/or
which you don’t understand].
10] A thousand throats can be slit by one man running.
11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: The
[adjective] [concrete noun] of [abstract noun]…
11] The towering trees of thought stand in an expectancy of silence
12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative
qualities.
12] and I stand in the trap free of danger
13. Make the character in the poem do something he/she could not
do in real life.
13] my arms sliding around the leopard’s golden ruff;
14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
14] Ducky would have run
15. Write in the future tense such that part of the poem sounds like a
prediction.
15] to be hunted forever through threads of colour,
16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
16] chased by frozen horses
17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that
finally makes no sense.
17] trapped by a web of patterns
18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
18] another playmate in the Bokharan fields.
19. Personify an object.
19] The arrows hum through the staring trees
20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but
that echoes an image from earlier in the poem
20] and I am trapped in a web of patterns.

With a draft to go on, I stopped worrying about the steps. I listed nouns and verbs that fit with Persian carpets and Middle Eastern fairy tales, circled words I wanted to look up for other possible meanings, and started back through this draft, trimming, adding line breaks, making the story active rather than passive. I got rid of lines that I had in only because the exercise asked for them.

I will use these steps when my brain is not behaving, when I have an idea and don’t know where to go with it. There are steps I ignore, but not many. Below is the final draft as published in Lunarosity, a now defunct ezine.

A Thousand and One Nights

Among the flowers of my Persian carpet
vines sprout curl twine me into fields of silk
and wool. Sliding through warp and weft,
I hear the rustle of thread grasses, and
my nostrils fill with the pungency of feral cats,
I taste the dryness of dust, and the dampness
of a blue silk river runs through my ears.
A blend and blur of color mark the horizon
spots of russet and black resolving into a hunt
undisturbed by my addition to the scene.
Arabian steeds damp dark with silken sweat,
silent as Attic shapes, prance and wheel
through date palms and trees of fiery-fruited
pomegranate. Turbaned caliphs, bows slung
across their backs, chase a leopard forever
peering over his shoulder. An arrow loosed never
hits its mark eternally suspended by woven
threads. Trees stand in an expectancy of silence
as I move within zig-zags of light and shadow.
My arms slide round the leopard’s golden
ruff and I am bound by threads of color
to be hunted forever through fields of silk and
wool, chased by frozen horses, another
player in the weaving fields of Bokhara.

Hair-pulling might be involved, but, hopefully, no exploding heads. Take yourself from step to step without worrying about whole. The draft doesn’t have to be cohesive. Connections and threads can come later.

See you Thursday for something; Friday for the roundup; and next Tuesday for the prompt mentioned above as your assignment.

Happy writing, all. It’s only week one. Pull back those emotions.

 
65 Comments

Posted by on 03/04/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

Tags: , ,

65 responses to “Twenty Little Tuesday Tryouts

  1. whimsygizmo

    03/04/2012 at 10:36 am

    Fun! Later, LATER fun. Must PAD at Poetic Asides now. Then fun. I think. 😉 I think I shall try to get a platypus in there somewhere.

     
    • Hannah Gosselin

      03/04/2012 at 3:33 pm

      If there were a “like,” button here….I’d click it! Smiles and lots and lots of platypi thoughts!

       
      • margo roby

        03/04/2012 at 3:56 pm

        I have been thinking that a like button would be useful as I wander around comments 🙂

         
        • pmwanken

          03/04/2012 at 9:46 pm

          There actually IS a “thumbs up” feature at wordpress…I don’t think it stores the names of those who’ve clicked it though. It’s just a tally-counter. I’ve seen it on a few others’ blogs…

           
    • margo roby

      03/04/2012 at 3:56 pm

      de, one of the fabulous things about this exercise is that there is room for a platypus, or two!

       
    • margo roby

      03/04/2012 at 3:57 pm

      de, I have no idea why the other comment refuses to locate under you name… or this one.

       
      • Hannah Gosselin

        03/04/2012 at 4:31 pm

        I was wondering why, too, Margo and I like your liking my “like-button,” comment!! 🙂

         
  2. wordsandthoughtspjs

    03/04/2012 at 11:34 am

    Delicious prompt, Margo. Complex, but wonderful. I am using some of your neglected prompts for napo. I am also going to tackle a few of Joseph’s as well. I am loving my free time!

    Pamela

     
    • margo roby

      03/04/2012 at 3:58 pm

      That is one thing about teaching, I think we are more appreciative of free time than anyone. I know you will have fun with this, Pamela.

       
  3. irene

    03/04/2012 at 9:27 pm

    Bookmarked!

     
  4. whimsygizmo

    03/04/2012 at 9:40 pm

    Whew. I was right. That was fuuuuuun. Silly, silly fun. I am considering this a draft, and so pasting the thing here, instead of linking to my blog (which shall receive it eventually, after some revision, I suppose). Thank you for this romp today. 😉

    Gambol

    I am a poetic platypus. My iambic feet are purple
    and they like to dance, but cannot waltz. I taste
    ink when the melody of guitar music rubs against my
    prickly skin, see starlight in glasses half full of silken,
    sparkling breeze, sneeze at the scent of summer on my
    own clawed fingertips. Arthur Murray has tried many
    a foot-stepped lesson from here to Helsinki, but I trip
    on every journey. Or is that me? No, I think not. For I
    am stitched-together egg-layer, webbed mammal, billed
    fraud, with no sense at all, of self or otherwise. I am
    identity crisis, supercalifragilistic superfluous fury. When
    laughed at, I weep through sweat glands, mingle saltwater
    with fresh. This is my Vipākaphala, the vermillion skin of
    hope. This tree ungrows, melts to nothing, leaves down, roots
    smashed against the sky. But I, aquatic marvel, find my wings
    and fly. She will fling phrase, this Whimsy, fall under her own
    lavender-lemon spell. She is doodler of margin, invisible ink well
    splayed, erased from page. She is me, simpatico in my own
    hide, hidden no longer under laughing, lying log. These violet
    steps spin, twirl, and fall to the rhythm of stringed heart.

     
    • pmwanken

      03/04/2012 at 9:52 pm

      *\o/* Yay for DE!!!! Way to go, amidst all the PADding going on out there.

      Hmm….PADding….maybe this goes well with PADding? Is the PADding on the walls, de? Hmm??

       
    • Hannah Gosselin

      03/04/2012 at 9:54 pm

      OH MY!!! You have not fallen short in my expectations, De!!! This is stunning! There’re so many really fun word pairings and this is just serious, De, doodling right here. Rough….not a scratch of it feels rough to me. So super…in fact I think this is your “Super-Power,” alter ego, I love it. Big Platypi hugs!!!

       
      • whimsygizmo

        03/04/2012 at 9:58 pm

        Awwwww. Thanks, Hannah. And Paula, too. 🙂 Happy my Platypal Premiere has brought smiles.

         
        • Hannah Gosselin

          03/04/2012 at 10:01 pm

          So glad you shared, De!! Made my smiler happy!!! 🙂

           
    • vivinfrance

      04/04/2012 at 2:59 am

      Pleasure all the way, Mme Platypus!

       
    • margo roby

      04/04/2012 at 11:31 am

      How gorgeous, de. What a wonderful draft to come back to and play with. Thank you for the platypi-filled plate.

       
  5. whimsygizmo

    03/04/2012 at 9:41 pm

    PS: Midway through, I realized I have done this before, at some point, but cannot find the old one.

     
  6. whimsygizmo

    03/04/2012 at 9:53 pm

    Oh, man. I already need PAD-ded walls, and it’s only day 3. Whew. 😉 And plop.

     
    • Hannah Gosselin

      03/04/2012 at 9:55 pm

      Lol! Plop-plop!! I need one too, then… I think this is amazing!!!

       
  7. Hannah Gosselin

    03/04/2012 at 11:28 pm

    Oh, and BTW, Margo…I think this is an incredible prompt and your poem rep. is perfectly rich and twisting! SO enjoyed! I esp. loved this,

    “My arms slide round the leopard’s golden
    ruff and I am bound by threads of color
    to be hunted forever through fields of silk and
    wool,”

    I can almost feel the fur, beautiful image!

     
    • margo roby

      04/04/2012 at 11:32 am

      Thank you, Hannah. My favourite part has always been the leopard.

       
      • Hannah Gosselin

        04/04/2012 at 11:38 am

        So very well captured. Such amazing creatures. Smiles to you!

         
  8. vivinfrance

    04/04/2012 at 3:00 am

    Yes you are cruel, but it’s the kind of cruelty that I will enjoy and profit from once Napowrimo is over. Your prompts printed and preserved!

     
    • margo roby

      04/04/2012 at 11:33 am

      You will have such fun with this, ViV. I am pretty sure you asked me to be even more challenging this month, oh yes.

       
  9. margo roby

    04/04/2012 at 11:29 am

    You all having fun up there? I have been thoroughly entertained by the conversation.

     
  10. b_y

    04/04/2012 at 12:08 pm

    This is one of my favorite prompts. I’ve used it a couple of times and really liked the result. But then, I am a bit odd.

     
    • margo roby

      04/04/2012 at 2:52 pm

      Well, that makes two of us, Barb.

       
  11. Joseph Harker

    04/04/2012 at 2:01 pm

    This is what I ended up with: For the One Who Got Away

    I think it worked out, more or less!

     
    • margo roby

      04/04/2012 at 2:53 pm

      No one’s going to check… I don’t think 🙂

       
  12. Kathleen Kirk

    04/04/2012 at 10:00 pm

    I love the 20 little poetry projects, and it’s great to see how you developed your poem here!

     
    • margo roby

      05/04/2012 at 7:31 am

      It is great fun and thank you, Kathleen!

       
  13. Misky

    05/04/2012 at 4:04 am

    I’m trying, Margo. I’m just finding this one difficult. 😦

     
    • margo roby

      05/04/2012 at 7:36 am

      Misky, a couple of things: if you want to go with the whole thing, think of it as a very rough draft and post it in comments rather than your blog; or, pick the steps that work for you and respond to those. Smile, Misky 🙂

       
  14. Misky

    05/04/2012 at 4:10 pm

    Okay.

    THE DESERTIFICATION OF GUIZHOU

    We are dust.
    Parched to the core
    and fragile to the edge of eggshells.
    No rain for years, just this milky mist
    that sedates the red dogwoods
    with random Picasso punctuation,
    glistening teardrop baubles
    hooked on hanzi twigs.
    Even the breeze catches fast
    and Guizhou chokes on sand.
    A lick of wind scatters us across
    seas top-heavy with salt,
    fluttering like pearlescent flecks
    chiselled from shucked oyster shells.
    Even now, “Bon Appetit” echoes
    and tingles my tongue with a bitter
    song, and the maître d’hôtel reminds us
    that we’re on last call.
    We are our doom,
    We are our damnation,
    Our dust and clouded desires,
    We are drought
    and desertification.

    ~ Misky

     
    • whimsygizmo

      05/04/2012 at 4:22 pm

      Misk! This is wonderful! Descriptive and powerful and visceral and wonderful! Must.Read.Again.

       
      • Misky

        05/04/2012 at 4:41 pm

        It is? :-\

         
        • whimsygizmo

          05/04/2012 at 7:43 pm

          Yes, ma’am.
          This: “fragile to the edge of eggshells”
          And this: “random Picasso punctuation, glistening teardrop baubles hooked on hanzi twigs.”
          And these: “a lick of wind” “top-heavy with salt” “Chiselled from shucked oyster shells”
          And, oh, this: “tingles my tongue with a bitter song”

          So much to love here.

           
          • Hannah Gosselin

            06/04/2012 at 12:26 am

            I’m TOTALLY agreeing here, Misk!! 🙂

             
          • Misky

            06/04/2012 at 10:06 am

            Thank you, De and Hannah, you’ve both made my day very happy. 🙂

             
    • margo roby

      06/04/2012 at 11:43 am

      Love the first three lines, Misky. You have so many wonderful images, but those lines! The poem has wonderful bones. You can leave it, as an exercise done, or you can go into it, and look at the poem without the instructions, in which case I would love to see a final draft.

      Now that you have done it, what do you think?

       
      • Misky

        06/04/2012 at 3:04 pm

        Margo, I’ll leave it as is for now. I might come back to it when PAD is finished.

        As for what I think, I’m encouraged that you, De and Hannah like parts of it, but I have to admit that it’s not the sort of piece that I’m drawn to or enjoy reading. It strikes me as being verbally indulgent.

         
        • margo roby

          06/04/2012 at 5:51 pm

          And it’s the verbally indulgent parts you can now get rid of. But, PAD does take precedence 🙂

           
          • Misky

            07/04/2012 at 11:54 am

            Maybe that process is something we can discuss later, as I’m not sure how to go about cutting it without destroying it. I don’t know what to cut and what to leave.

             
            • margo roby

              08/04/2012 at 4:07 pm

              Anytime, Misky. The revision process is my favourite part of writing poems.

               
              • Misky

                08/04/2012 at 5:49 pm

                I would very much like that as I’ve never learnt how to do that. But later, okay? After PAD?

                 
                • margo roby

                  10/04/2012 at 8:42 am

                  Misky, anytime. Six months down the road, a year… it needs to be when you are ready and want to dive in.

                   
  15. Hannah Gosselin

    06/04/2012 at 12:26 am

    http://wordrustling.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/of-names/

    So, I took three days trying to find time to piece this together and finally finished tonight. Sorry, it is a lot of words!!! Here it is for any one that might be interested.

    That was FUN, Margo!! Smiles!

     
    • margo roby

      06/04/2012 at 11:44 am

      A lot of words, huh? Okay, Hannah, I’ll try and get by today :-)… good grief, I just got a good look at it! A lot of words indeed. Now, I am curious.

       
      • Hannah Gosselin

        06/04/2012 at 1:58 pm

        I hope you enjoy it, Margo!! This prompt was daunting at first but really worth the time. Thank you. 🙂

         
  16. brenda w

    06/04/2012 at 1:43 pm

    I wrote one, Margo. Finally I had time, and the need for a prompt. I loved this exercise, and will do it again. Thank you so much. Here is my contribution

     
  17. brenda w

    06/04/2012 at 1:44 pm

    Oops:
    satsuma

     
    • margo roby

      06/04/2012 at 1:53 pm

      Ooops! Indeed! I am heading over to read. I am so glad you tried this one, Brenda.

       
  18. Marianne

    06/04/2012 at 8:29 pm

    Delightfully complicated prompt, Margo!!! I LOVE what you came up with … really spectacular writing! I hope to try it someday when it’s NOT Easter week and I don’t have a pulled muscle in my arm.

     
    • margo roby

      07/04/2012 at 11:10 am

      Easter week and a pulled muscle seem a bit much, Marianne. May you soon have peace and health!

       
  19. b_y

    07/04/2012 at 3:59 am

    Got a lot of material, but couldn’t make anything gel. Now, I’m just getting punchy
    http://briarcat.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/for-dverse-and-the-tryouts-a-little-ramble/

     
    • margo roby

      07/04/2012 at 11:10 am

      Punchy should be interesting, Barb. I’ll come on over.

       
  20. Sharon Ingraham

    10/04/2012 at 1:19 am

    okay – I think this is the general idea – it’s going to have to do ’cause if I spend any more time on this, I will be balmy … er balmier, I guess that is … nevahmind as the great Gilda Radner said – if you want to check out Rionero’s Swallows – it’s here:

    http://thepoet-tree-house.blogspot.ca/2012/04/rioneros-swallows.html

     
    • margo roby

      10/04/2012 at 8:44 am

      I shall check it out, Sharon. As for balmier, I fretted over this quite a while before writing my first one. After that, I used the steps I like 🙂

       

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