Well, not just anywhere. Today’s exercise comes from Stephen Dunn’s “Stealing the Goods” in The Practice of Poetry.
Take a poem that isn’t working and choose the line that most interests you. (Hmm…, maybe one of those darlings that you sense you should kill but really don’t want to.)
Write a new poem from that.
Sounds pretty, basic, right?
But Stephen Dunn goes on to say:
“Your charge is to keep finding both cooperative and surprising language even after you’ve found out what you’re talking about, what the nature of your subject is. Think in terms of distinctive phrasing as much as you think of extending subject matter or completing an argument.”
Having heard Stephen Dunn at Seattle Arts and Lectures, I’ll take the challenge one step further: Be sure to include a turn.