Saturday, 10 November 2012


00:00:00 Posted by Ashley Lister , , , , 8 comments

 By Ashley Lister

 Inspiration is a lot like oxygen, love and internet connectivity: it’s only a problem when it’s not there.

Inspire a writer with an idea and that’s usually enough. Once a writer is armed with an idea, the quest for inspiration gets put aside as the labours of writing, crafting and editing take place. Inspiration is only ever an issue between projects.

Personally and professionally, I understand the difficulties that come from a lack of inspiration. When I’m teaching poetic forms some learners get so caught up in mastering the rules of a specific poem they can’t think of a subject that fires their imagination.

Papers have been written on this problem. Some theorists argue that, because the rational part of the brain is hyperactive in understanding the rules of form, the creative part of the brain is being suppressed or underutilised.

I don’t claim to know if this is exactly what is happening.

But I do know a way round it.

Here are the instructions for how to write a monotetra

The monotetra contains four lines in monorhyme. Each line is in tetrameter (four metrical feet) for a total of eight syllables. The last line contains two metrical feet, repeated. The monotetra can have one stanza or many stanzas.

Line 1: 8 syllables
Line 2: 8 syllables
Line 3: 8 syllables
Line 4: 8 syllables with repetition

Here’s an example:

It keeps the working world at bay
A word I whisper when I pray
And thankfully today’s the day
It’s Saturday. It’s Saturday.

At this point, in the classroom I would tell learners to experiment with the form. And I know there would be learners struggling to be inspired.

That’s where the random word generator comes in so useful.

To the right of this page is a random word generator. The random word generator should be generating a new word each time someone visits this page. If you don’t like that word, if it doesn’t inspire you, click on the link labelled NEXT WORD. If that doesn’t inspire you, clink on NEXT WORD a second time.

Inspired monotetras in the box below, please. I look forward to reading them.


vicky ellis said...

Fun :) Can we do nonets next week?

My random word is leg.

Cousins, brothers, sisters - dinner
Piglets, guzzle, gobble - sinners
Chicken racing, lobber, spinner
Leg the winner. Leg the winner.

Ashley R Lister said...

Thanks for reminding me that I should be taking a shot at one of these. The random word generator gave me DISCO.

I once went to a discotheque
But it was a pain in the neck
I drank fourteen bottles of Beck(s)
My soiled kecks! My soiled kecks!

(This is not a true story).
Nonets would work well.

Sommer Marsden said...

I'm not sure if I did it right. There was stress and it was late and yes, wine. But I amused myself so...that's a good thing.

Also, doing this made me realize how much I miss being in college. I miss learning things. I miss my English Lit courses etc. *sigh*

My word was tourist (of course I poetically mangled the first sentence ;) ):

I'm not sure where I really am
A classy joint or old crack den
A two week trip--I'm on day ten
Then home again! Then home again!


Ashley R Lister said...

It's fun playing with words like this, isn't it? A lot of people sneer at rhyming forms but, I think, finding the right rhyme can be such a spur to creativity that it reminds us why we fell in love with words in the first place.

Great poem,


Adele said...

Feeling mellow but I can't get the random word generator link to work
so here goes.

I love the fragrant smoking mist
that rises from the bonfire hiss
and treacle sweetness of your kiss
Autumnal bliss. Autumnal bliss!

Shaun said...

I got blouse! Happy days.

Unbuttoned blouse won't turn us on
On mutton, long since deemed as gone
More of a turkey than a swan
Keep the blouse on. Keep the blouse on.

Ashley R Lister said...


In a way I'm glad the random word generator didn't work for you. We wouldn't have got this charming poem if it had worked and I think it's really good.


Ashley R Lister said...


The imagery you've shared there will haunt the remainder of my weekend.

Great poem.