When Patricia Smith read in the Carriage House Poetry Series recently, she mentioned that she usually writes the last line of a poem before she writes anything else. That way, she explained, she always knows where her poem is going. For this week's prompt, let's give Patricia's approach a try.
Knowing where your poem is headed presents a unique challenge. As you write your way up, you’ll find countless options for choice as you plot a course through the possibilities. It’s a bit like knowing the destination of a trip and then discovering the roads you’ll take to get there.
1. To begin, and to get things rolling, think of a subject and Google it. Yes, that’s right. Google it!
Did you know that poetry created using search engines is called flarf poetry? Although, many don’t consider flarf real poetry, the form (created by poet Gary Sullivan) is defined as an avant garde movement of the 20th and early 21st centuries in which practitioners mine the Internet with unusual search items and work the results into sometimes funny, sometimes disconcerting poems.
Flarfing isn’t our goal, but starting with the flarf method and Googling a subject may be helpful. So, enter your word and search away.
2. Check out some of the sites that come up and extract words, phrases, and ideas that interest you. Make a list.
3. After you’ve compiled your list, consider the items you’ve recorded. Has connecting to the Net made any “connections” for you? Does anything in your list resonate in a special way? Has something you’ve discovered triggered a particular image? A memory? Now try working a few of the things in your list into images or phrases.
4. Pick one of your images or phrases and write a line of poetry that includes it. This will be the concluding line in your poem. (You may want try this with a few subjects and then select the one you find most interesting.)
5. After you’ve written your last line, work backwards to compose the rest of the poem. Write to your last line, but, as always, let the poem lead you (even if that means changing your last line when the rest of the poem is written).