Sunday, November 21, 2010

This Week's Practice Exercise

The World's a Poem (v.2)
Prepared by: Ruth Douillette
Reposted on: November 21, 2010
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Exercise: Find an article in a 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 Alamogordo objectors after they read When Pigs Fly."
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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 is 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.

Many of us 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.

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Exercise: Find an article in a 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 Alamogordo objectors after they read When Pigs Fly."
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Critique by naming the emotions you found in the poem. Can you tell from the poem what the article was about? Did the poem inspire an emotional reaction?

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 Writing Workshop.

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