Constrained writing can produce some unexpected results. In my recent experimenting with language and poetry, I remembered some of the Surrealist/Dadaist techniques I’d learned in my youth and added a few updates of my own.
The site Creative-writing-now.com has a pretty interesting explanation of Found Poetry:
A found poem uses language from non-poetic contexts and turns it into poetry. Think of a collage — visual artists take scraps of newspaper, cloth, feathers, bottle caps, and create magic. You can do the same with language and poems.
Perhaps you could use the found words to talk about the original subject. Here’s a found poem I did, using some of the words above (made with the help of a “cut-up machine”—a word randomizer—I found at Languageisavirus.com).
“Poem Found Poem”
Poem poem create magic
Use language feathers
Think non-poetic contexts.
Poem poem create magic
Visual collage create
– Josh Medsker
Um what? Exquisite Corpse is a fun game created by Dadaist poet Tristan Tzara.
Traditional Exquisite Corpse
Everyone in a group writes down a word (alternative: a phrase, a line) and puts it in a hat. The poem is made according to the order in which it is randomly pulled. This idea can be translated into images as well (as you can see by the graphic). I recently did a Facebook variation on this, which you might want to try.
Exquisite Corpse (Facebook)
1. Start with a line of poetry, as a Facebook status. Ask your friends to write another, corresponding line in the comment box.
2. Depending on the length you want the poem, limit the number of participants. The limitation also creates a fun sense of urgency, with people racing to make the cut!
3. Once you have collected the lines, break them down into stanzas as you see fit—according to flow, rhyme, musicality, and so on. Speaking the lines aloud will help you in this task. Of course, this isn’t a true Exquisite Corpse, as the writers can see the preceding line, but it’s pretty close to the original.
“Hot Choo Choo”
derailed by fixed ideals
The steamy chugga,
chugga and hot choo-choo
growing ever louder.
a relentless charge
But around the curve,
what lies on the track,
blind and inevitable
like the dawn
easily guided by
the fixed tracks.
What’s Twiction, you ask? Well, imagine you had only 140 characters to write a story. That’s Twiction. It’s official. There’s a great spot for this uber-micro-story form at Twitter.com/twiction.
They didn’t have titles, so I added them. There were no authors listed.
Curiously, warily, daintily, I lifted the lid of the biscuit tin. There was a tiny spider inside. It said, “Hello, Jake,” and I freaked out.
Cory gazed absently at the rain sheeting against the window. “It’s not so much the fiddling I miss, more the knowing fiddling was possible.”
Here’s one that I did.
“Split Decision” by Josh Medsker
He saw a bread truck coming and shut his eyes. The sound grew. His body couldn’t move. The truck’s wind dried his tears.