Monday, December 1, 2008

The Language of Poetry

1. Pick one of the phrases below and write a poem in which:
a) the phrase you’ve picked is the poem’s title
b) the phrase you’ve picked occurs at least once in the body of the poem
2. The poem should not be end-rhymed, but it should observe the basic conventions of free-verse prosody.
3. The poem should be less than 30 lines in length
4. In addition to using the phrase you’ve selected, the poem should try to coin at least one truly memorable epigrammatical statement: a statement which is:
a) rich in metaphorical meaning
b) has the ring of wisdom yet is fresh, not hackneyed
c) is abstract (which has the breadth of a generalization) yet has a concrete “feel” to it
5. Although the poem should be in the riddling, epigrammatical language of poetry, it should have an air of authority; it should make a kind of sense yet not be easily paraphrasable or interpreted. In other words, it should have “poetic meaning.”

1. The long odds in the evening
2. The heart’s rust
3. Cold bacon, cold eggs, cold potatoes
4. The left-handed daydreams of the missing ski (shoes, hat, etc.)
5. The slow kiss the spider gives the fly
6. The way the sky would like to touch the snow
7. The thief who is also the locksmith
8. At Death’s picnic (funeral, party, etc.)
9. At the starling’s wild parties
10. In Death’s library
11. What Death has for breakfast
12. The silent storm inside my arms
13. The patient ambushes of the shadows
14. The habits of the clouds (stones, grass, etc.)
15. Mr. Joy (Mr. Fear, etc.)
16. What the dead birds listen for
17. What the dust seems to be saying
18. Why (how) the moon divorced the earth (the sun), (the ocean divorced the land, the sky divorced the ground, etc.)
19. The heart’s hot climate
20. The franchise of the night (the moon, autumn, etc.)
21. The concealed weapon in a smile
22. The secret that wears an old suit
23. What Death (Time, Boredom, etc.) wears
24. The erratic weather reports of the heart
25. The metaphysics of cockroaches and kings
26. The moon’s white shares we (I, you, etc.) own
27. Dragging the sea for your shadow
28. Bribing the river
29. On the right side of the sun
30. The blameless life, complete in its white package

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