Would you like to learn a simple exercise to create interesting imagery and fresh poems? I was honored to receive an award for teaching poetry writing to children, and this was one of the main techniques/exercises I used (I’ve used this exercise with adults, too – in workshops/seminars). I learned this technique from Babara Juster Esbensen. I like to think of it as “rubbing words together to make sparks”.
Now I want you to step outside of yourself when working on this exercise. You are going to write a poem that describes something you see – it can be a landscape, something happening in the city, on a forest trail, in your yard, in the mountains, in space, etc….Yes, you can be taking part in it, but I want you to try to not create a “what am I going through now?” emotion poem. There is nothing wrong with those kinds of poems, but we want to CONNECT with the world around us. Poems are a fabulous way to connect and be present!
Use a blank piece of paper and create three bubbles or boxes – make them large enough because you’re going to fill them with words. Label the first one NOUNS, the 2nd one VERBS, and the third one ADJECTIVES. Then fill those bubbles/boxes. Take your time, and be creative (use a thesaurus or online lists, if it helps). Here are my word bubbles:
Once you’re satisfied with your words, put them together! Choose one Adjective, one Noun, one Verb, and put them on your paper, in that order. You have the start of a poem!
From under my (I chose Reckless, Pebble, Rolls)
These are words you may not normally put together, so the idea is for these word combinations to rub together to SPARK IMAGES and IDEAS in your mind. Hopefully more words start to come as the image unfolds further.
Choose more words from your bubbles/boxes to continue writing your poem.
If you are writing about an object, then give it a personality! Are you going inside of something and having an adventure there? Are you having a conversation with a supernova? Are you walking across the ocean floor?
Below is what I came up with (with my words choices highlighted) – just a short poem about how I unwittingly helped a pebble to reach her dream destination : )
If you have a little trouble at the start, don’t criticize yourself – just choose different words and start again. Be patient with yourself, allow the ideas to flow freely (even if you think they seem “weird”), and have FUN!
Feel free to share your poems with me!
This is a fun exercise, and I like to use it when I feel “stuck”, or have a creative block.
(photo from vunature.com)