Prepared by: Ruth Douillette
Posted on: October 29, 2006
Reposted on: November 4, 2007
Exercise: Find an article in the newspaper or magazine on a topic that interests you: a current event, a political development, a science breakthrough, an obituary, or anything you react to emotionally. Turn the prose into a poem that expresses the essence of the article. Give your poem a brief introduction. For example: This poem is based on the book burning staged by objectors in Alamogordo after they read "When Pigs Fly."
William Wordsworth defined poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, recollected in tranquility. "If this is true, then we are all poets at heart. Often those who write prose include poetic elements in stories. The use of rhythm, figurative language, alliteration, metaphor and other literary devices are not exclusive to poetry. Yet we often steer clear of writing poetry, fearing it as something foreign, very different from the familiar prose of everyday language.
While poetry is different, it is in many ways similar to prose. A poem can tell a story, although it doesn't have to. Poetry expresses ideas, thoughts, and actions, like prose, but in a different way. Poetry condenses and concentrates the essence of prose, saying much in few words. Ideas and emotions are expressed with literary devices such as rhythm, meter, figurative language, rhyme, alliteration and more.
Some of you may feel incompetent when it comes to writing poetry, so, if it helps, don't think of yourself as writing a poem--what you are doing is simply what Wordsworth recommended: letting your feelings overflow. This is not the nineteenth century; poetry is a free form of communication.
These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop