Sunday, January 30, 2011

Exercise to Destroy Writer's Block

Years ago I had a college poetry class where the instructor claimed all novelists were failed short story writers, and all short story writers were unsuccessful poets. I’m not sure if it was an original quote by her, but I always found the idea amusing. If you’re an avid reader and poet, you’ll enjoy this exercise I created for myself. Take any book you’ve read, and try to boil it down to the bare essence; in other words, make a poem out of it. I suggest starting with your favorite book, but it can be a book you just read, too. Write in your favorite poetry form, pull out the richest images from the book or go with your own emotional take of the book. None is wrong, and you’ll find it destroys writer’s block.
Being in college and reading many assigned books, I turned it into a fun poetry writing exercise. Instead of dreading to write essays on books selected by the professor in a literature class, I wrote poems. You can only write so many essays on books when you’re an English major before the act becomes tedious. I took a risk and wrote poems for every book in lieu of essays. My professor was pleasantly surprised, and he handed out my collection of poems to the class to review for the final.

Example: by Frank G. Poe, Jr.    

Peter Pan, Mr. Pan

Mr. Pan, thousand year old boy
How could you forget Tinker Bell?
Discard her memory, outdated toy
How could you forget Tinker Bell?

Mr. Pan you’re like Captain Hook
Remember black heart pirate you killed, dead
But Barrie wrote you in a book
You may live forever instead

Your first set of teeth shine like oyster pearls
While your skeleton leaves, fit tight
All just to seduce little girls
And take them on naive Neverland flight

Offered ventures with Indians,
Pirates, even house in the trees
Rambling on about mermaids and lions
Forgetfulness is your disease

When spring cleaning comes like soiled gloves
Peter discards and forgets his sweet loves

Returned, now, they’re matured in shame
Threatening your dagger, when you’re to blame

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