By way of history, it’s believed that British mapmaker John Spilbury constructed the first jigsaw puzzle around 1760. He took one of his world maps, pasted it to sheet of hardwood, and cut out the countries with a fine-bladed saw to create a visual aid that he used to help children learn world geography.
Jigsaw puzzles are deceptively simple and straightforward in concept: fit the pieces together to make a whole. Psychological studies, however, have recognized several thought processes required to make the identification process and the process of applying identified shapes to overall patterns. Interestingly, in an interview posted on Poets.org, former US Poet Laureate Rita Dove described her writing process as “similar to assembling a jigsaw puzzle.”
This week, think about jigsaw puzzles and the imagery and symbolisms they suggest, and then write a poem based on how your life (or some aspect of your life) is like a jigsaw puzzle.
1. Focus on form, content, and trope.
2. Try to work in something different with syntax, some unusual sentence structure that will create an element of surprise, perhaps something that suggests a “jigsaw puzzle."
3. Be sure that your line break “logic” is clear but not intrusive. Enjambments lend themselves well to this subject.
Things To Think About:
1. In what ways is your life, metaphorically, a jigsaw puzzle?
2. What’s the one jigsaw puzzle in your life that you haven’t been able to piece together?
3. What are some of the “interlocking pieces” in your life?
4. Who’s the biggest “puzzler” in your experience?
5. Imagine that you find an old jigsaw puzzle in a box, but there’s no indication of what the finished image should look like. As you put the puzzle together, what emerges? What’s the subject of the finished puzzle?
6. Write about a life experience (“jigsaw puzzle”) in which you found that there were more pieces than you needed (or could handle).
7. Write a poem about a jigsaw puzzle that was left unfinished.
8. If you can’t quite relate your life or particular experiences to a jigsaw puzzle, try writing a poem about an actual jigsaw puzzle.
(A visual poem in which sixty-three individual fragments of text are cut into the shapes of jigsaw puzzle pieces and are placed together in a rectangular grid.)