Sunday, May 11, 2014

Add a Critter to Your Writing

The poet Stephen Dunn writes, "We seem always to know where we are in a Billy Collins poem, but not necessarily where he is going. I love to arrive with him at his arrivals. He doesn't hide things from us, as I think lesser poets do. He allows us to overhear, clearly, what he himself has discovered."

Billy takes the ordinary and adds humor or gives it a twist.  Enjoy his take on how to encourage students to nudge a poem into creation.

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
                         by Billy Collins

Take a tip from Billy and drop a critter into your writing today.  Try a squirrel or a songbird. Choose an insect. 

Add a snail. Give it a name, let it speak and probe its way out.  

Don't worry about producing poetry, just follow your creature's lead.

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