NaPoWriMo Quarantine Edition – Exercise 30

You’ve made it – all the way through April. Whether you’ve managed to write a poem every day this month, or tried to, or just thought about it, well done.

Today, you will be writing  a cento – a poem made up entirely of lines borrowed from other poems. And not just any cento – to celebrate the end of this month of writing poetry, your final exercise is to write a cento made up of lines from all the poems you have written or started writing this month. Maybe it’s lines from the final versions of your poems (or whatever level of “final” you’ve gotten them to by today), or perhaps from the lines you’ve cut as part of the revision. The point to this one is the juxtapositions – how you can make the lines sing and resonate against each other, and the unexpected ways that they might want to nestle in to each other. So play with it – a classic approach is to cut each line out on its own slip of paper, and literally shuffle them around. Whatever works for you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the exercises, and that they’ve helped you stay sane (or sane-adjacent) during this lockdown. May the muse be ever at your shoulder.

But not until after I’m finished with him. Obviously.

2 Replies to “NaPoWriMo Quarantine Edition – Exercise 30”

  1. thank you for April – I have been drowning in doggerel, but yet, every bit helps – and I think my daughter has referred her beginning linguistics class to you, something about the infinite possibilities of playing silly buggers with the language – anyway, if you are suddenly drowning in linguists, that’s why

    Mary Cresswell
    PO Box 201, Paraparaumu
    Kapiti 5254, New Zealand
    04 904 9930 021 216 0568 (text only)
    NZ Book Council profile:

    1. What a lovely thing to be told! (Edited to add: not the doggerel part: the nice bit.)
      I’m glad you’ve found them useful. No obvious signs of an influx of linguists yet, but I know they’re crafty …

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