Patchwork Poems

Feeling frustrated by this poetry business? Centos can really loosen up your creative machinary. A cento (latin for “patchwork) is a collage poem made up entirely (or almost entirely) of lines from other people’s poems. By rearranging or decontextualizing lines from other poems, your task is to create your own poem by stealing from other accomplished artists. As John Donne once said, “All other things to their destruction draw.” Check out the blog Centobingo, created by Breadloaf alum Matt Hart, dedicated to Centos. Or check out my (maddie’s) variation, which is composed entirely of chapter headings from a table of contents: what-difference-a-wing-makes

How We Became Writers

Here’s a blog where writers can submit pieces about the process of becoming a writer.


my girlfriend sent me this photographer’s website this morning:

barbara was talking to us about how museums and art and music can do wonderful things for the creative process. photography is also pretty inspiring. try going to the japanese winter wildlife album and checking out the last photo and humanizing the emotions/actions of the monkeys.


I stumbled upon this application that I think will make writing on a computer simpler – I’ve been using it for 10 minutes and already… relief. Thought I’d share. It’s called WriteRoom and is a text-writing application (only for Mac users – although I’m sure there are similar windows apps out there) that does that and ONLY that. A full, blank screen. No distractions. It’s great. Try it out.

-photo by jimieye on flickr

Translating poetry

Last night in workshop, Sean read “Keeping Quiet” (“A Callarse”) by Neruda. I don’t know who the translator was (Sean?), but it was well done and was conscious of rhyme, sound, and rhythm in the new language. A few of us noted, though, that we have read really bad translations that preserve little of (what we presume is, I suppose) the original author’s intent. And the whole idea of a translation is that a third party is rewriting the original work, using his own interpretations of the author’s intent – is this not a complete bastardization? So this brought up the question for me of whether or not we should even read translations. I guess we could just go learn every language… Thoughts?

Poetry Reading TODAY (Wednesday)

Hi guys — I just heard about a poetry reading happening tomorrow in the Grand Salon in the Chateau. The poet’s name is Fiona Sampson. I don’t know much else about the reading, but it’s at 4:30, and if you have a bit of free time in the afternoon it will probably make a lovely addition to our sliding into poetry this unit. You can read one of Sampson’s poems, and a bit about the poet, here.

Being a Poet

I found the following in a response written by writer/editor Jennifer Bosveld of Pudding House Publications and felt that it called back to what we’re trying to do . . .

“Poet is my title and the following is my job description:
Spend 100% of my time observing the relationships between all things living and seemingly not,regardless of what else I am doing.

Capture in mid-air those flashes of perception unlike anything I’ve heard out of the mouths or pens of others and get it down before it’s gone.

Go TOO FAR in my assertions that one thing is another and extend those metaphors logically but not traditionally.

Re-color re-measure re-assess re-name re-do the world in language chunks made of words that have never danced together before.

Brave the wild ride of vocabulary that might only speak to a few but those few could build a church or a university on those notions.

Relish being strange, weird. Celebrate wrong answers; sometimes wrong answers reflect the most creative thinking.

Write about everything and all the time but don’t expect anything to be any good just go WOW when it is and then revise.

Revise again. One more time. Several more times. Learn to love revision.”

When asked what her definition of poetry was, she responded “A relatively little space of word art.”