Sunday, March 9, 2008

Everybody Knows... Poems

As I've been playing around with poetry lately, I've been thinking back to the exercises David used to assign us in class. There was the animal poem, the famous place name poem, the dream poem... and there was the "Everybody Knows" poem. That last one is what seems to be working best for me right now.

Here's how it works:
The first thing you write is "Everybody knows" and then you put something, anything, after it. This works best if you follow with something that everybody doesn't know. You find some obscure fact, or such and plug it in. Then you keep writing. Once you're done, you delete the "Everybody knows" and you're left with everything that came after it.

Then what's the point of writing it in the first place? It's a mindset thing. When you start a poem with those words, you give yourself the freedom to say anything after without explanation, because everybody knows that what you're saying is true. You don't have to lay it out, you don't have to explain, you just say it, and you can get away with saying anything, thus freeing yourself up for some leaps.

It's a neat trick and if you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend it.

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