Day 1: Play with letters

Happy Poetry Month!

Are you ready to play? Stretch a little? Do some writing reps?

Today’s exercise is based on “Poetry with Ease / without Ease” from Sandra Soli in Wingbeats II.

Take a poem that’s been giving you trouble (or write a new poem), and use the letter E in every word. It can be a long sound (beak, peek), a short sound (leg, egg), or anything else (feather, plundered).

If you feel stuck (what? I can’t say sky or air or light–not even light?), start by making a list of words.

After you have your E poem, rewrite the poem using only words that don’t contain the letter E.

What does that do to your poem?

The variations here are many:

  • Choose a different vowel.
  • Use only words that contain the letter L.
  • End each line with an R sound.

What do you hear? Did the constraints help you come up with a new music–or new images?

Do the different versions contain parts that you want to keep–or have they led you to a new draft of your poem?