Saturday, May 8, 2010

Poetry Prompt #4 - Linked Poem

The video below (scroll down a bit to view it) is the result of a Facebook experiment in which twelve writers from the US, Canada, and Ireland wrote a linked poem on the theme of remembering. The writers included Ray Brown, Marina Antropow Cramer, Adam Fitzgerald, Gina Larkin, Diane Lockward, Adele Kenny, Leah Maines, Tomás Ó Cárthaigh, Donna Gagnon Pugh, Linda Radice, Susanna Rich, and Joe Weil. (Video photos courtesy of

Many linked poems take inspiration from the Japanese form of poetry called Renga (連歌) written by two or more poets. Formal Renga have numerous rules and can be challenging to compose. The form, however, is sometimes adapted for less rigid composition of a simple linked-verse or sequenced poem with multiple lines. In this kind of "relaxed" exercise, one writer begins the poem, and each subsequent writer adds a line that relates to the preceding line. These lines are typically "linked" through obvious cause and effect or comparison and contrast. Sometimes, however, line relationships may be less obvious, surprising, and even mysterious.

Imagery, figures of speech, alliteration, assonance, anaphora, and other poetic devices should be part of the process but, most importantly, this is an exercise designed for sharing and for having fun. Get some friends together and give it a try!

Here's a suggested format, but remember that guidelines are entirely flexible:

1. Plan how to share the writing experience (in person, via email, on Facebook, through other electronic means).
2. Select a group of poets/friends with whom you'd like to write, and get in touch.
3. Establish a theme and whatever "rules" you think may be appropriate. Make sure everyone in the group knows what's expected. (If you're interested, check out the rules for formal Renga.)
4. Write the first link, and share it with the next writer in your group (who will pass it along to the next, and so on).
5. Ask the last writer to bring the poem to closure or, alternatively, write the last link yourself.


  1. Really cool idea...thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Renga it rolls on my tongue
    I'ma look it up right now
    a friend who had a renga group explained it a while back but I want to remember