Friday, July 22, 2005

Shake & Bake

I tried a fun new exercise with my workshop yesterday. It's a variation of a Chase Twichell exercise, where you take a poem/draft of your own, get out some scissors and tape, cut all the individual lines up into strips, and rearrange the strips to find new connections and and rhythms and ways of saying things (and to break the chains of strict narrative sequence), then tape the new poem together onto a page.

For my workshop, we varied this by making it a group exercise. The six of us each chose a poem of about 15 to 20 lines, cut it into strips of lines (including the title), then put all the lines into one bag and shook them up (hence the name "Shake & Bake"). Then we each drew 15 lines, and constructed a poem from them. It took about 15 - 20 minutes to do, and the resulting poems where actually pretty amazing.

Here are are a couple of them (the odd caps, and punctuation, and etc. left as is):

Televison is a great help.

I have a new way to exercise.
sitting on a log,
Where watchful cannons stood
waiting for the waitress
her gangly arms
gray eyes turning an unblinking yellow green,
with sand and shells at my feet.
Gulls and fog horns,
sounding for the sun.
When I get weary I prefer the outdoor programs
as I tackle, block, run, pass and kick.
too much touching
is their afterlife, a final gathering

(composed by LE)

I call it the Professor

bequeathing a fountain of feathers
My mind dances between
a going away, as a return.
The Harold Hill "Think" method.
of a unifying vision.
An inactive
to avoid a blow to the jaw.
I go across town to the station, where
in my head,
beside scrap wood and old plumbing pipe.
out to the horizon,
chisels and creativity.
unlike sparrows in Kansas.

(composed by JG)


jenni said...

That's a great idea. Especially for poems that don't seem to be going anywhere. helps to think about the poem in a different way. im going to try it! thanx!

Patty said...

What a great idea! I can't wait to try it.