Poem Tryouts: Colouring Outside the Lines

06 Aug

8: 45 a.m. — Atlanta

not listening to anything because my main computer is misbehaving and my laptop sounds tinny

snarf… bargle… urk… mmf… hello. I’m back home in Atlanta and trying to jump-start my brain. It seems it objects to being hauled back and forth through four time zones. Should today’s exercise lack lucidity, for heaven’s sake, tell me.

color pencils

For most of us, colours are the strongest of all imagery. Think about it. Green. Right? You either saw a shade of green, saw something green, like grass, or started to list the greens you remember from your Crayola Crayons (remember sea green?). While other imagery might give you a clear picture, it won’t be as vivid, or as immediate as red.

You can introduce colours in a couple of ways. You might choose objects that are inseparable from their colour, such as lemons. You might keep you poem neutral as far as colour and then deliberately and precisely place pink. Or, you might make colour the focus. The trick is to not overdo colours as imagery in a poem, even when they are the focus.

Make two lists: one of colours that attract you, and one of colours that repel you. For each colour, write what you associate with that colour.

Approach each colour from your other senses; how do these colours sound, smell, taste, and what is their texture? Jot notes for a few minutes.

Which images that emerge from your jottings give you an idea for a poem? Go!


Begin with the word colour and freewrite on it for several minutes; pull a poem from your notes;


Write a poem or short piece in which every line or sentence mentions the same or a different colour;


Take off in your own direction, but colour must be involved somehow.


list everything you associate with one colour, say red.

crimson – blood metallic tide blush
vermilion – fire heat paint thick smooth
scarlet – chilis, lining of a cape, blaze
brick – rough, earthy cool hard
red – crayon lipstick cherry cinnamon
burgundy – wine full rich

Write a poem that focuses on the colour you picked.

Point of interest: Flowers are the colours they cannot absorb, the one shade of the spectrum they reject.

No, don’t ask why part of the post is a different size. My laptop is misbehaving, too. I am contemplating the satisfying sound of a computer, or two, dropped from a seventh floor balcony.

I may, or may not be back into the routine, so you may, or may not, see me Thursday, or Friday. If so, yay. If not, I will see you next Tuesday for… what does the calendar say? Mystery. Ah, well then.

Happy writing, everyone.



Posted by on 06/08/2013 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , ,

46 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Colouring Outside the Lines

  1. barbara_

    06/08/2013 at 11:17 am

    Goody. You’re back!

  2. Hannah Gosselin

    06/08/2013 at 11:55 am

    Yay!! I’m so glad you’re home, Margo!! 🙂

    • Debi

      10/08/2013 at 9:59 am

      Metaphorical fun indeed! I love your take on this prompt, Hannah. Just what I’ve come to expect from your poetic fingertips.

      • Hannah Gosselin

        10/08/2013 at 10:02 am

        Thank you, Debi!! I’m so glad you enjoyed!! 🙂

  3. jacquelinecaseypoetry

    06/08/2013 at 12:24 pm

    sometimes, all it takes is a color in a photograph… I’m trying, again, to learn how to post, Margo, lol

    • margo roby

      06/08/2013 at 12:37 pm

      Jackie! How lovely to see you. Your link works perfectly.

  4. whimsygizmo

    06/08/2013 at 12:49 pm

    Hi, Stranger!
    (snarf… bargle… urk… mmf… hello) – I thought I had patented this post-vacation pre-caffeine statement, but am happy to share it with a poetic soul such as you.

    Needed a kick today. THANK YOU.
    Have missed you.

    • margo roby

      06/08/2013 at 1:01 pm

      Well, hello you! And, thank you. If you ever need any more statements in a similar vein, just let me know. Also kicks. I am happy to kick on a moment’s notice.

      I always miss you when you aren’t around, de. It’s good to see you.


  5. LaTonya

    06/08/2013 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Margo, I recently discovered your blog but haven’t participated in any prompts. If it is okay to submit a previous work, I just wrote a piece for another color prompt. Critique and observations welcome.

    Hope you get settled at home soon.

    • margo roby

      06/08/2013 at 2:08 pm

      Welcome, LaTonya. It seems a shame to not link at all if you have a piece that fits, so, sure. Glad to have your contribution. I’ll be over in a sec to read

    • Debi

      10/08/2013 at 10:05 am

      Oh, the color images- beautiful even if I am old and didn’t get the song allusion : (

  6. markwindham

    06/08/2013 at 2:17 pm

    lucidity…sooo…all the other posts are supposed to be lucid…? 😉

    • margo roby

      06/08/2013 at 2:21 pm

      Cute. You get no beer.

      • markwindham

        06/08/2013 at 2:38 pm

        Here is some prompt related fun for you, put down your drink, don’t want you spewing anything on the screen. You talked about going back one year… lets look back about 28 years to one of my first explorations.

        Color Confusion

        The colors are strange…in a queer sort of way,
        all moving…confusing.
        Look, there is a blue one,
        but, then again, it should not be blue,
        it looks much too…well, blue.
        That one, over there, looks to be red.
        Yes, but why does it taste so green?
        And…it is connected to the yellow one,
        the one that tastes so orange,
        and has a unique yellowish tint.
        The colors are all here,
        in the midst of a celebration,
        but, there are two missing.
        I can see no black or white.

        Now you can be embarrassed for snorting out loud like that. 🙂
        Hopefully I will find time for a more serious response.

        • margo roby

          06/08/2013 at 2:45 pm

          snorkle… that’s the sound that came out… you might, if you think it would prove fun, write on this but with your now self doing the content. How would you write this as your age now and with the growth and development of your poetry? Play! It might not work, but…

          • markwindham

            06/08/2013 at 2:50 pm

            yeah, I have looked through that old stack a couple of times, wondering if there was anything there worth a go…we shall see.

  7. BoneSpark

    06/08/2013 at 2:20 pm

    I did a complementary, more like supplementary, posting based on this exercise over on Bonespark. Check it out!

    • margo roby

      06/08/2013 at 2:22 pm

      I laughed when I got back from checking out your blog — because of the pingback — and found your comment waiting. I’ll be over again in a bit.

  8. Iris D

    06/08/2013 at 8:38 pm

    Perfection in Pink

    Skies at dusk explode with various pink hues
    Angels wings brush the sky with mauve and cerise
    Cumulus clouds emit fuschia, carmine, puce
    Western horizon reveals amaranth, salmon, and rose
    Canvas of color the hosts of heaven compose

    • margo roby

      08/08/2013 at 9:07 am

      Welcome, Iris. How lovely to see a contribution from someone new.

      • Iris D

        13/08/2013 at 2:37 am

        Thank you Margo. It was my first time reading your blog and I hope to be back. Great prompt.

    • Debi

      10/08/2013 at 10:11 am

      Never realized there are so many colors for pink – great job!

  9. barbara_

    06/08/2013 at 10:14 pm

  10. markwindham

    09/08/2013 at 9:37 pm

    so, we are still on the summer ‘post whenever you get around to it’ schedule aren’t we? Some play with an attempt at a little discipline.

    • margo roby

      10/08/2013 at 9:29 am

      When you think about it, that’s always the schedule 😉

  11. cloudfactor5

    12/08/2013 at 11:52 am

    • margo roby

      13/08/2013 at 7:20 am

      Absolutely! So glad to see you, Randy.

  12. purplepeninportland

    12/08/2013 at 11:18 pm

    Hi Margo! Glad you are here. I love this prompt.

    • margo roby

      13/08/2013 at 7:23 am

      Okay, now this is freaky. I woke up in the middle of the night [a common occurrence] and thought, ‘Hmm. I haven’t heard from Sara. Wouldn’t it be funny if I thought this and she appears.’ I kid you not.

  13. Misky

    15/08/2013 at 7:46 am

    Colours prompt scent for me. Only scent. I’m weird. And I’m home, too.

    • margo roby

      15/08/2013 at 8:20 am

      Well, thank god for that! Your being home, not the weirdness. ‘Sides, I already know you’re weird. Welcome home. I feel like the balance is restored.

      • Misky

        15/08/2013 at 12:47 pm

        I consider weirdness a treasure. I’m well practised. Are you familiar with the chicala tree? Perhaps that obscurity was a leap too far. You’ll see tomorrow when I release what I’ve written.


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