Thursday, 24 November 2011

The 15 Minute Poem

00:23:00 Posted by Damp incendiary device , 3 comments
I agree with Steve that I seldom use the results of writing exercises. I think it might be to do with the forced nature of the subject. That said, it’s a decent method of practicing the craft and occasionally throws up something that, if not workable on its own, can be manipulated or used as a jumping off point for something more satisfying. With that in mind, here is a quick exercise which should yield a short poem which is personal to you.

STEP 1: Name the following:

Something that runs through your fingers
A secret place / favourite haunt
The last smell you noticed
A movement and a manner
A number of creatures/people
A quality of shade, light or tone
A time of day
An action
An object

So you should have a list like this:

• Hair
• Under the pier
• Pear drops
• Peering carefully
• Bundle of birds
• Striped shadows
• Late afternoon
• Tiptoeing
• Waterproof jacket

STEP 2: Now, give me seven lines of iambic pentameter (five pairs of syllables with the stress on the second syllable). You should end up with something like this:

Barnacle Roost

Hair sticks across her cheek and to her lips
She blows a pear drop cloud up to the pier
Trapped birds like bags of fruit hang in the nets
Stray wings protrude beneath the wooden planks
Point down towards her horror-frozen peer
Tiptoeing through the cemetery boughs
She pulls her jacket close; looks down, walks on.

Please post your poetry below. Feel free to change the metre, add rhyme, whatever. I can’t wait to read it.


Ashley R Lister said...


Thank you. That's a fun exercise. Here's my response:

Hands immersed in bubbles whilst washing up
Longing to return to the bridge between
The writer’s flawed imagination and
the computer’s limited memory.
Eyes closed amongst a conceit of poets
Waiting for my new keyboard to arrive.


Nikki Magennis said...

Ash, I love that. And this is a lovely exercise, Vicky. I suspect Blogger is about to bugger up the linebreaks, but anyway:


My son’s most loved soft toy, well sucked, hair stuck
on end in thick clumps. Soft beak. Black thread wide-eyes
hungry as hell, as bewildered as the stiff necked new mother
at play group drinking too much stewed tea, swallowing words
while her sons line up wild plastic animals like fantastic cannon.

In the spit and soap aftermath of Supper we cling to the wreckage,
gaze at the TV screen, a bright raft in the black-out-blind dark.
While he’s distracted, I put a small vase of wet flowers – last
desperate geraniums, yellow poppies, lace-edged furry leaves,
straggling lavender – high on a shelf, to stay safely invisible.

Ashley R Lister said...

I've been offline all day - pretending to tidy my office - and I missed reading this until now.

The platypus works as a perfect motif here :-) Great poetry.