One night in Port Townsend last week, we played charades. I am not good at this, but the other people on my team rocked! (They made it easy for me.)

Today, let’s focus on sounds–sounds that sound the same. Let’s whip out the thesaurus and go for internal rhyme. See whether you can internally rhyme the last word in the first line somewhere in the second line, and so on throughout the poem.

How far can you push it? How much is too much?

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Sometimes, I feel that we, as a culture, have gotten really good at talking, but perhaps at the expense of listening–asking and then listening.

Today, let’s listen to our poems. Let’s spend some time on reflection.

This is similar to the expansion exercise on day 2, when we wrote new material from every line. But instead, think of this as call and response.

Print out your poem double-spaced. Read the first line. Sit with it. Ask it what else it’s trying to say, or whether it’s trying to say something in a different way. Ask, listen, write.

This all sounds pretty woo-woo, I know. But at least you’ll have some quiet time. What do you hear?

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Today’s exercise, based on Melissa Kwasny’s “The Lyric as Letter” in Wingbeats II, builds on the narrative tasks of the past few days: Write a letter. Write several letters. Turn your problem poems into letters. In a perfect world, or another time-frame, these would be written over a couple of days.

Her examples include Ezra Pound’s “The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” and the poems in Richard Hugo’s 31 Letters and 13 Dreams.

Epistolary poems are especially helpful because you know you you’re talking to. And, by association, you know more about who is speaking.

Write the letters in sequence.

Date them. Place them in a specific locale. Include stories–you really know this person, and you share memories.

Allow digressions.

Don’t worry about ending the poem. You can leave it open, because there will be another.

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Today, we take our storytelling a step further, or a step way back. Rewrite your poem as a myth. Use either characters from an existing tradition or create your own. I confess: This sounds more like a prompt than an exercise. But it’s a good chance to go larger than life.

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Today’s exercise comes from Kevin Prufer’s “Braided Narrative” in Wingbeats II. The goal is to bring together two distinct stories, to intertwine them. The stories can be set in different times, told in different styles, or told by different voices. Make them as different as possible.

Yesterday, we worked on a poem that told a story. Today, do you have another poem somewhere in the back of your files that tells a story? Bring them together, either by alternating sections, or by alternating lines in a kind of call and response. If you don’t have a second story poem at hand, write about a memory that follows you around like your shadow.

I’m excited for this one, because I think that some of my best work has come from combining poems. But usually they are similar poems. Today, I’m looking forward to the tensions that come from combining dissimilar narratives.

Have fun!

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