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Colors And Articles Of Clothing: A Poetry Writing Exercise
Recently I observed how infrequently I mention colors in my writing. Since I would like to break this bad habit, I’ve designed a writing exercise combining the names of certain colors and items of clothing. Quickly I realized that it would be difficult to create coherent poems without linking words such as “and” and “with,” as well as names and action words such as “wore” and “purchased”. The clothing item list was inspired by the items of clothing listed at www.look.co.uk/clothing. My only requirement was I needed to list at least fifteen items of clothing.
The list of colors was compiled mainly using the colors listed at www.math.ubbcluj.ro/~sberinde/wingraph/main.html For the colors I required a mixture of plainly named ones—such as orange and yellow—with more exotically named ones. I didn’t set a limit on how many color names I could use; I did, however, insist on having at least fifteen colors listed. The linking words were chosen because they are commonly used words. I decided on having six name options, as this made it possible to list an equal number of male and female names. The action words are somewhat generic, although wore/wear and purchased were selected because they seemed applicable to the subject matter.
A fun poem about the color orange by a sixth grader
The rules for all poems created with these variables are straightforward. Each poem must contain at least ten clothing items, ten colors, and two names. I can use as many linking words and action words as I please. Also, linking words and action words can be used more than once in a single poem, whereas clothing items, colors, and names can be mentioned only once per poem. Each poem has to be at least six lines long; none of these poems are allowed to exceed twenty lines. I didn’t include the word “colored” next to any of the color names because I thought this would make the poems too wordy. Nonetheless, I recognize that this omission may have hindered the readability of the poems.
After composing four poems with these variables and constraints, I must confess that this exercise forced me to stretch myself creatively. I could even, on occasion, envision how certain outfits in the poems might look. If I did this exercise again, I would add more action word options. Finally, the excessive use of color in these poems reminds me that it is at least as grave an error to mention color too often as it is to mention color infrequently.
boxer shorts; toe socks; pantyhose; bell bottoms; denim overalls; bra; briefs; panties; coat; dress; rain jacket; jumpsuit; lingerie; sneakers; scarf; capri pants; short shorts; mini skirt; suspenders; khakis; jean jacket; legwarmers; wool socks; pajama pants; nightgown; shirt
carmine (a dark, burnt red)
cerulean (a deep, intense blue)
eggplant (a dark pink)
fractal (a muted gray)
goldenrod (a dark, mustardy yellow)
malachite (a light, cheerful green)
sangria (a dark, emotive red)
wisteria (a pale pink/purple)
and; of; or; with; no; but; yet; under; beside; off; on; and; his; he; because; to; was; a; from; she; he; for; only; her
- Gloria 2. Anthony 3. Andre 4. Bethany 5. Alexia 6. Joe
Action words: wore/wear; discarded; purchased; abhorred; desired; ran; skipped; fell;
surrendered; borrowed; embarrassed
A First Date For Gloria And Joe
Gloria was embarrassed
to wear bitter lemon pantyhose with
orange capri pants, and a
carmine jean jacket.
She borrowed aquamarine
bell bottoms and pumpkin
toe socks from Bethany.
Joe purchased navy boxer shorts, malachite
suspenders, and a burgundy coat.
She abhorred wisteria legwarmers and
desired goldenrod sneakers.
Inside Gloria and Alexia’s Closet
For Gloria: sangria dress, wisteria
wool socks, navy bra, and
bitter lemon jumpsuit.
From Alexia: carmine nightgown,
malachite sneakers, cerulean
mini skirt, cadet blue
pajama pants, goldenrod scarf,
and eggplant pantyhose.
Bethany desires a blaze orange
jumpsuit with aquamarine legwarmers
and a goldenrod rain jacket.
Anthony purchased burgundy bell
bottoms and bitter lemon wool socks.
Alexia discarded her fractal lingerie,
wisteria dress, and eggplant shirt.
For Joe: pumpkin sneakers and
Only Gloria: malachite mini skirt and
cadet blue toe socks.
For Gloria: wisteria bra, fractal panties,
and a blaze orange coat.
Anthony wore his cadet blue
jumpsuit with a bitter lemon jean jacket.
On Andre: carmine toe socks, yellow briefs,
and eggplant khakis.
Bethany wore only cerulean short
shorts and a malachite
Alexia borrowed a navy
rain jacket and orange legwarmers.
On Joe: pumpkin denim overalls
and a goldenrod shirt.