Friday, April 29, 2011

White wizzard/Calling card

White wizzard
Calling card

(Sic wizzard. Blame White Wizzard. :-) I intended to find rhymes but, hey, wizards handing out calling cards!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011


More fun with the sonnet form: Stonnets! Stories retold in sonnet form. If you want to turn the story into the character's thoughts on why they did what they did to keep the argument aspect of the sonnet, go for it :-) Or if you want to play around with the mechanics, you can rework the story into the rhyme scheme and meter of the 14 line sonnet form.

Try a fairy tale, nursery rhyme, favorite story from history, movies, books.

When you're done, Graeme King has played with the form to create a bunch of them at Funny Sonnets at Kingpoetry. (Where there are funny poems of many different forms, too.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The cool thing about sonnets

Ignore the rhythm and rhyme of a sonnet? In The Handbook of Poetic Forms, Ron Padgett suggests you do exactly that to get started writing them. Because there's a more interesting aspect of (English or Shakespearean) sonnets that's often left out of the descriptions: they're an evolving argument with a punch line.

(Padgett suggests after you get used to the unfolding pattern of thought, then work in rhythm and rhyme. Which is: 14 lines rhyming abab cdcd efef gg with each line having 10 syllables of alternating stress: ba DUM ba DUM ba DUM ba DUM ba DUM.)
  • First set of 4 lines, the speaker sets up an idea.
  • Second set of 4 lines, the speaker explores it further.
  • Third set of 4 lines, there's a larger or new view of the idea. There's a turn in the speaker's thinking for a twist or conflict or emotional or mood shift. Quite literally the 4 lines may begin with But. (Here's some that Shakespeare used: so, yet, but, because, now, ah!, o!, never, for, alas!, thus, no, therefore, then, why.) "The speaker stops presenting evidence and starts to draw a conclusion from the evidence."
  • Last set of 2 lines, there's another turn, and the poet draws a (sometimes surprising) conclusion. It can sometimes feel like a punch line.
In short:
Here's what and why.
Here's some more why.
But wait.
Ah ha!
Of course you don't need to be serious! You can argue why, despite many negatives, you'll still spend the extra money on Starbucks, or why you like the older chapters of Star Wars, or find cats superior to dogs.

As an example, Shakespeare's oft quoted sonnet that begins "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" (#18) can be summarized as:
Here's why I shouldn't compare you to a summer's day.
All beautiful things fade.
But your beauty won't.
Because people will keep my poetry alive down the ages and give your beauty immortality.
Original side by side with modern English
Detailed analysis

And "When my love swears that she is made of truth" (#138).
Even though I know my mistress lies, I believe her and project the illusion of being an inexperienced youth.
Even though she knows I'm old, she believes me young and both of us willingly suppress the truth.
But why don't we tell the truth?
Because believing the lies helps us ignore each other's faults.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Love me not

Today, write a poem or prose piece with the word love in it several times. But make it not a love poem or piece.

Inspired by Day 208 in The Aspiring Poet's Journal by Bernard Friot.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A tattooed mouse

There was a crooked man,
and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence
upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat
which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together
in a little crooked house.

Use that form as inspiration. What about a purple ghost? Or a tattooed mouse? A spotted dick? (Which is a pudding in England.) A dark black charm? A faceless clown?

Change as much of the content as you want. Can you make it work with a one syllable adjective and two syllable noun? Do you need to keep the dah-dah-DAH rhythm pattern or would a crabby werewolf work? Try tapping it out. Or jumping rope to it. :-)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Funny finding you here

Found poems are pieces of writing not intended to be a poem but by arranging the line breaks become a poem.

You can find these poems in grocery lists, in your sister's diary, in newspaper articles, in novels, in biology class notes, in bits of overheard conversation, in assembly instructions, in dialog from TV shows,

in blurbs from TV Guide:

Arthur creates
a tribunal of justice
that solves disputes
via wits,
not blood.

and the backs of cereal boxes:

Every bite
of these


is dusted
with just the right amount of cinnamon,
to make them
a delicious


for your morning.

Here's a bit of found poetry from the description of found poetry in The Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms:

The odd thing is
how the found words seem
to take on an added power
when removed
from their original context
and presented

And one rule:

A poet does not enjoy
a license to
or omit words --
a rule often broken.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Poetic fortunes

Speaking as a fortune teller, tell a fortune in poetic form. (She or he can be a character for a story.) The first line is: You will take a strange journey ...... Finish the prediction/forecast by describing the journey and giving instructions or advice or even warnings for the journey.

From 30 Writing Prompts for National Poetry Month at Book of Kells. Also lists for 2011 and 2010. They aren't specifically for speculative fiction writing but you may find something inspiring :-)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Grandmas like railroads

Cut up the following words, choosing one from pile A and one from pile B. Create similes by comparing A to B.





Feel free to replace all or some of A or B with C that contains some ingredients from speculative fiction. Feel even freer to add your own. :-)


star ship captain
alien ambassador
time travel
artificial intelligence
love potion

This is from The Aspiring Poet's Journal by Bernard Friot. (With list C added by me, of course.) It has 365 fun and creative poetic exercises for a whole Poetry Year.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Emotion poems

Start out National Poetry month with a choice between two templates to pull out some colorful emotional language. This can be a useful exercise for prose writers too :-)

If [emotion] were a color,
It would be [color].
As [color] as a _____.
If [emotion] were a taste,
It would taste like _____.
If [emotion] were a feeling,
It would feel like _____.
If [emotion] were a smell,
It would smell like _____.
If [emotion] were a sound,
It would sound like _____.

[Emotion] is [color] like a {object].
It looks like ...
It sounds like ...
It smells like ...
It feels like ...
It tastes like ...

The second template came from Poetry Ideas. The example given there expands beyond the template which is an encouragement to play around and use it as inspiration.


If anger was a color
It would be bright red
As fiery hot as a volcano.
If anger was a taste
It would be just like red peppers.
If anger was a feeling
It would be as turbulent as pot of boiling water on high flame.
If anger was a smell
It would be awful as a landfill on a summer's day.
If anger was a sound
It would be loud as a parent when you come home late for dinner.

EXAMPLE (by Andrew Wesner):

Anger is red like fire
It pops and crackles in your head
It smells like smoke that you could choke on
It feels like you hair's on fire
It's going to explode!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Snow white queen

Snow white queen
Hall of the mountain king
Desert prince
Princess of the rising sun
Themed titles for poetic and prose inspiration. :-)