Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fill In The Blank

I love the way writing exercises crack through banal rationality to offer a glimpse of our native wild mind (see Natalie Goldberg's books for excellent ideas). A couple of weeks ago I was waiting for outrageously expensive new functional tires to be put on my pathetic old car, and tried this exercise from Behn & Twichell's The Practice of Poetry (HarperCollins 1992), called "As/Like/Finish the Sentence." It was contributed by Linnea Johnson.

  1. Fill in the blanks as rapidly as you can. Do not think. Write. If you have no reflex response, go on to the next sentence. Stop when you slow down.
  2. Reread the sentences you've finished, circling a couple you like best. Begin a poem using a simile/metaphor/analogy you've written.
I haven't done a poem yet; haven't even decided which sentences I like best. But here are my sentences. The part in regular font is the prompt from the book; the italics are my fill-ins for the blanks.

  1. A spider on an old man's beard is like a carol wafting through a cathedral.
  2. The oars on the boat rowed as if they alone could bring back President Kennedy.
  3. Nothing was the same, now that it was a hot refrigerator.
  4. The wino took to coma like a used car to a scrap heap.
  5. The dice rolled out of the cup toward Len like sewage rising through the basement drain.
  6. A child in a warm laundry pile is like a duck in a pond.
  7. Puffy clouds in your glass of wine are harbingers of time-clenched fancy.
  8. Fall's leaf-filled tarp is like muscles stretched out over bone.
  9. The fog plumed through the gunshot holes in the train windows like furtive ghosts seeking refuge.
  10. The gray honor walked up the satin plank as if each step took on a new-found planet.
  11. Canceled checks in the abandoned boat seemed to bounce just like the yellow rubber they swirled in.
  12. If I should wake before I die, give me wisdom and blueberry pie!
  13. Alannah poured coffee down her throat as if reversing wind through a trumpet.
  14. Up is like down when the cat falls off the chimney.
  15. You mine rocks from a quarry. What you get from a quandary is an equilateral quadrangle.
  16. Marlene dangled the parson from her question as if shaking off a mosquito.
  17. She held her life in her own hands as if it were Socratic rubble.
  18. "No, no, a thousand times no," he said, his hand pulling off the Santa beard.
  19. The solution was hydrochloric acid; the problem was, therefore, indisinguishably disintegrated.
  20. Love is to open sky as loathing is to a cellar cubbyhole.
Gosh, now I want to go try this again!

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At 7/06/2007 7:15 PM, Blogger tumblewords said...

You've enough fodder for several months! I love this exercise - and Goldberg's books as well!

At 7/07/2007 3:54 PM, Blogger Nance said...

Nice exercise. I may borrow it for my creative writing class!

At 7/10/2007 4:59 AM, Blogger Tuesday said...

Now can you make a super short short story out of one of the sentences.

They just beg for more.


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