On the Art of Exercising Words into Poems
By Julio Cesar Diaz | Friday, March 6, 2020
By Julio Cesar Diaz
Friday, March 6, 2020
Like how the moon has many phases and faces, the poet too has fluctuating moments of creativity. So, whenever a low tide comes to shore and poems need to be written, writing prompts become a go-to solution. Now the problem arises, which prompt is right for you. Not all prompts will move you the same way your fellow poets are stirred. However, the only way to know is to experiment. Here are some prompts to stimulate the mind and help you move past a future rut.
One of the first workshops I ever took was started off by learning intimacy in lists. And in the following years, lists became me. So, in that vein, let lists become you too. Start by making a list (funny that) of your senses (they maybe include): sound, sight, sent, savor, sensitivity, sixth sense (intuition), seventh sense (time), sanity, selfness, scope and space (although we can argue for more, use there for this exercise). Now that you have your list of senses, make a list of 4-7 memories "real" or otherwise associated with each sense. It is more than fine to list them by a single "chosen" word or acronym to contain the moment of being. Take your time. No one is going to rush you. This exercise is meant to help you question not only your tethers to this world, but the way you move about in it and what you hold important. Now that you have something under each list of senses, take a moment to breathe and look back at your associations with each sense. What surprises you? What did you remember? What did you consciously leave out? From here, you have worlds to play with, one possibility is to focus on one memory under any sense and another is to mix and match to see where your existence leads you to.
2. Stream Writing
Sometimes y'all gotta be resourceful in this economy. I mean, resourcefulness comes with the territory of being a writer, living as part-time magicians/explorers/time-travelers; things appear and the story happens. This experiment is all about consistent writing for a solid 10-15 minutes about whatever you desire or a pre-assigned topic. Hence, you are going down a steam of consciousness and putting it all on paper. (Alt, you can also see it as waves crashing against a cliffside to feel a bit more intense in your writing). The X factor of this prompt is that beforehand you'll open up your favorite book (it can be poetry or fiction or nonfiction) and jot down words or phrases that a) you don't use/see often and b) catch your attention. For this exercise you have the option of conning one of your friends into helping you write. In the middle of this timed writing, your friend will read out loud the words in whatever order y'all desire. The opportunity in this exercise is for you to either incorporate those interesting words into your writing or completely let go and have those words truly command the direction the writing takes. You can also do it yourself by simply recording yourself and playing it back while you write. Go on and wonder and wander!
3. A Three-pronged Poiesis/Poeia
In another workshop of mine, we learned poetry through the concepts of music, images and statements of power. Respectively Melopo(i)esis/Melopoeia, Phanopo(i)esis/Phanopoeia, and Logopo(i)esis/Logopoeia. All that these weird looking words mean is the creation of music, images, and/or intellectual/powerful statements within a poem. So, this exercise is more focused on the practice of a technique than that of generation. Choose one of the three aspects you wish to work on and craft a poem where you truly create a habitat where either music, images, or statements can live fully in center.