Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I wish ...

dandelion.jpgIt is, as I mentioned on Sunday, National Poetry month :-) so lots of prompts coming up on playing with words and ideas.

At some point most people pick up the idea that authors begin writing a novel with the first sentence and finish with the last sentence. And I suspect people have the same idea about poetry: that it's written first line to last line in order.

Of course neither is true. Authors (of novels or poems or lyrics or plays or ...) generate much that never gets into the final product, they write the end in the middle and move the middle to the beginning. They write really crappy stuff for the initial draft and play around with it and clean it up in subsequent drafts.

This is an idea from Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching children to write poetry by Kenneth Koch. (Which has lots of good ideas and imaginative poetry by young children. If you're interested in the book, there are also some older hardback and paperback editions for under a $1. (Though do note that some listed under hardback say paperback. :-/))

In his book he has a whole series of what he calls poetry warm ups. It's a way of getting some thoughts down on paper that might with some rearranging, cutting and editing, become a poem or the seed of a poem.

Some are templates, so each line begins the same. Some are the seed to write a series of related ideas. Most have some repetition in them to help get things flowing. Don't be discouraged if your first dozen lines or more are trite. That's just the clogs coming out of your creative pathways :-) But that stuff needs to get out onto paper so the path can be freed for better ideas to flow more freely.

In addition to the regular writing prompts, I'll post one of these warm ups too.

I wish

Begin each line with "I wish ..." or just the first line and continue with the wish.

Be bold and whimsical! Be selfish! Don't let yourself get bogged down by a need to create wishes in the vein of "world peace" ;-)

Examples of children's poems from the book:

I wish I was a beautiful chick who could be in any period of life
Being Cleopatry in Egypt with handsome men at my feet
Or being a pirate enjoying the gold
Also a bloodthirsty vampire scaring the men.

I wish I was a traffic cop
I wish a turtle gave me a ride
I wish I was a lion with my brother.
I wish all my sisters would disappear.

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