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Writing Exercise Using Fifteen Unrelated Phrases To Create Three Poems

Updated on March 25, 2017
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Freedom and innovation are necessary to create outstanding art. However, I also recognize the value in learning to be disciplined by using writing exercises and comparable practices. In order to infuse more discipline into my writing life, I've decided to try a new writing exercise. This writing exercise involves creating three poems using fifteen unrelated phrases. These poems won’t likely be emotive, compelling, or inspiring. They make not even make much—if any—sense. However, by forcing myself to use only these fifteen phrases, I better learn how to write with constraints.

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One rule for this exercise is I cannot add or subtract any words from the phrases. I have to use the entire phase at one time; I cannot use part of it at the beginning and part at the end of any poem. In addition, I cannot change any of the words in the phrases to a different version of the word. For example, if one of the phrases contains the word “after,” I cannot change this to “afterwards.” While creating phrases for this exercise, I attempted to include a few colors, sounds, and locations. If I did this exercise again, I would include more “linking” words such as “the” and “for” at the beginning and end of each phrase. This exercise can obviously be modified to suit your needs and preferences. You may find you want to work with fewer phrases, or even shorter phrases. It’s also possible you will only want to create one poem using these phrases.

spicy nachos
spicy nachos | Source

The fifteen phrases I used:

  1. a yellow convertible
  2. spicy nachos
  3. in Alaska
  4. without thought
  5. three naughty monkeys
  6. expensive pink flip-flops
  7. melodic whisper of wind in tall evergreen trees
  8. after visiting England
  9. footsteps echoing on marble floors
  10. fifty dust-covered encyclopedias
  11. children laughing far away
  12. the old man named Solomon
  13. with ten minutes to spare
  14. into a tunnel without a flashlight
  15. eyes the color of a summer evening

Alaska
Alaska | Source

The first poem:


Found In Alaska


In Alaska: a yellow convertible,

spicy nachos, three

naughty monkeys, expensive

pink flip-flops,

fifty dust-covered encyclopedias.


After visiting England: melodic whisper

of wind in tall evergreen trees,

eyes the color of

summer evening, children

laughing far away.


The old man named Solomon: footsteps

echoing on marble floors

into a tunnel

without

a flashlight

with ten minutes to spare.

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The second poem:


Simply Solomon


Eyes the color of summer

evening, the old man named Solomon

into a tunnel

without a flashlight.


A yellow convertible

in Alaska,

children laughing far

away after visiting England.


Spicy nachos

without thought. Three naughty monkeys,

melodic whisper of wind

in tall evergreen trees.


Expensive

pink flip-flops with ten

minutes to spare.


Fifty dust-covered encyclopedias,

footsteps echoing

on marble floors.

Three naughty (and media savvy) monkeys
Three naughty (and media savvy) monkeys | Source
Lovely evergreen trees
Lovely evergreen trees | Source
Pink flip flops
Pink flip flops | Source
An image of London, England
An image of London, England | Source


The third poem:



Here, There, And Somewhere


Into a tunnel

without a flashlight, children

laughing far away

in Alaska.


Spicy nachos, fifty

dust-covered encyclopedias,

three naughty monkeys without thought,

eyes the color

of summer evening.


The old man

named Solomon:

a yellow convertible, expensive

pink flip-flops

after visiting England.


Footsteps echoing on

marble floors, melodic whisper

of wind

in tall evergreen trees

with ten

minutes to spare.

Would you be interested in using this writing exercise?

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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 22 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Julie, the idea of using these phrases to write poems is a good one though rather limiting. I feel you need to be able to add other words to tie the phrases together. They can still remain intact but the extra words are necessary to provide form and allow you to write a poem that makes some sense. I have written a poem before using a number of set phrases for a writing challenge "When the World Explodes" and I think it worked out very well. I do like most of the phrases you chose though and most could be used to make a good poem. thanks for the examples.

    • Julie K Henderson profile image
      Author

      Julie K Henderson 22 months ago

      Thank you for commenting. I agree that it would help if you could add words in order to better tie the phrases together. If I did this exercise again, I would likely add this option. You are welcome for the examples.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 22 months ago

      I wasn't clear on how to use the old man named Solomon so it was interesting to see some ideas.

    • BruceDPrice profile image

      Bruce Deitrick Price 22 months ago from Virginia Beach, Va.

      The trouble here is that you are sort of stuck with the quality of the original lines. You want to be able to blossom outward.

      Although I'm admittedly prejudiced, I think my essay called "Max your creativity" would help more writers on more occasions:

      http://www.improve-education.org/id14.html

    • Julie K Henderson profile image
      Author

      Julie K Henderson 22 months ago

      poetryman6969: Thank you for commenting. I hope my uses of the phrase about the old man named Solomon helped you.

      BruceDPrice: Thank you for commenting. For this exercise I wanted to see how it would be to use the phrases exactly as they are. If someone else wants to change these constraints, that is certainly up to them. I would likely do it differently if I did this exercise again.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      Unusually creative. Who else could connect three monkeys, pink flip flops, nachos and Solomon?

    • Julie K Henderson profile image
      Author

      Julie K Henderson 22 months ago

      FlourishAnyway: Thank you for your kind words. It was a challenge to put all fifteen phrases together with a semi-coherent narrative.

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