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
Write a sudden fiction in exactly 200 words following these rules:
1. A one-scene story that takes place on a dock.
2. Characters: a pilot and a runner, strangers to one another
3. A second-person narrator
4. Circumstance: They’ve both lost something
During my last months in Helena, the smoke from the distantly burning forest fires covered the streets and the mountains in a gray veil, obscuring the valley and the hills. On some days, it blurred even the trees across the street, and you could feel it grating on your throat each time you breathed in; on worse days, it covered the sky, the only color in the vast grayness the blood red of the polluted sun, reduced to an ichorous sore hanging dead in the air. Sometimes, though, the sunlight was beautiful, when it split into crimsons and scarlets as it drifted towards the horizon. I can remember seeing our living room once coated in red at dusk, the couch and the coffee table and the piano pulsing in the warm and sinister light.
“We want a pitcher not a belly-itcher!” Grubby fingers interlocked in the chain fence of the dugout. Half-empty yellow Gatorades on the concrete floor, Emily, on deck, balancing a bat on two fingers. “7’s up, it’s a up thing, 7’s up, she hits it every time…” Parents with newspapers and magazines in the stands, sweat on my teal uniform (not the pinstripes I’m hoping for, but close). “Hey hey whadaya say, hit the ball the other way!” Blood on our knees from sliding, Katie’s out on a fly. They wouldn’t let me play baseball, but they let me get pretty damn close.
Here are the rules:
1. Use a second-person narrator
2. Use 150 words
3. Use the following words: bones, glint, forge, salt
4. Title it “On Storms”
5. Make it creative nonfiction
Enjoy a creative weekend filled with writing games! And if anyone has suggestions for exercises we might want to do on the blogs, please post them to the Motherblog.
You will be hearing from Maddie, Katie or Alex about meeting with them in one-on-one conferences this coming week to talk about the course and your first experiments.
GROUP ONE: Matt, Andre, Carolyn, Kelly, Sean, Mikaela & Maddie
GROUP TWO: Alicia, Clare, Simone, Laura, Lois, Tamara & Katie
GROUP THREE: Chris, Eleanor, Kyle, Doug, Tony, Gregg & Alex
GROUPS ONE & THREE, you can pick up a (single) copy of the multimedia projects on DVD in my office on Monday.