Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just the facts

When I stumbled across this week's quote, it reminded me of a prompt that provides a structure for a poem (or for a brief story or character sketch).

Write a poem (or sketch) that answers the 5 Ws (+H) reporters are told to include in their stories: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. They can be answered in any order. You can leave off one if it seems to tell too much. (Usually why.)

Here's some examples from Getting the Knack by Stephen Dunning and William Stafford. (The questions in parentheses aren't part of the poem.)

Coincidence

(who?)    Our elected representative, Ms. Ludlaw
(what?)   pumping voters' hands
(how?)    as if they were slot-machine levers
(where?)  outside Faculty Lounge
(when?)   Tuesday, after school.
(why?)    Next month, election.

September

(what?)   Flocking toward Mexico
(when?)   before Winter's first ka-choooo,
(how?)    thrashing the silver air
(where?)  in Ontario's gray sky,
(why?)    wanting warm --
(who?)    a blizzard of ducks
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