Poetry Exercise of the Day

In case people are bored and want to do some writing, here’s the exercise I did during the Writing Center’s staff meeting this morning. Grab a literary journal (any one of sufficient length will suffice) and use the lines from random parts of that journal to create a new poem, called a cento. A cento is essentially a poem constructed using the words of other authors (our boss called it a “plagarized poem”, which is accurate enough, except that it’s cut from multiple authors). This is a very interesting exercise, and some of the other people that tried it came up with pretty good results. Another way to do sort of the same thing is to take a very old copy of a book, take a page out of that book, and randomly paint on the page so that some words are painted over and some aren’t. The words that aren’t construct a poem. It’s best not to read the page before you do this and just semi-randomly take out words. I suggest doing this with really old, run-down paperbacks – it reduces the shock of tearing pages out of books.

The Writing Center director is a poet, hence all the poetic exercises that she throws at us tutors from time to time!