“Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.” ~Brooks Atkinson
Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to the first Poetry Tow Truck post. As the new year begins, I always try to find new ways to work more writing into my crazy, wonderful life. Hopefully these posts, coming to you once a week, will help you do the same. Please feel free to leave a link in the comments to anything you may create from the exercises – I would love to know how they are working for you.
First Words – An Exercise for the First Day of the Year
Other writers can often be our best inspiration. This exercise will require a short poem of 10-20 lines or a quote of 10-20 words. Let’s consider the first line of the Atkinson quote above as our example.
Take the individual words of the quote (or the first words of each poem line) and write them vertically down the page. Then create a new draft using these first words as guideposts to draw you through the poem. (I have included a draft below – first words from the quote are in bold print.)
Drop the party dress around your ankles, let it pool in
the purple light of almost-dawn. This may be your
last opportunity. Every January, you promise that this
year will be different, better – you pour yourself
into another mold, become viscous and malleable,
the past you nearly unrecognizable. Your old tongue is
silent, stuck to the roof of your new mouth. This is
limbo, this first day, learning how to manage the hands
of a stranger, these unfamiliar desires. You just want
the chance to emerge from the confinement of your
past. The smallest of insects is allowed even that.
This exercise forces connections and gives an inherent cohesion to the draft, and it can be completed in just a few minutes. And, since all writers have a bank of poems and quotes that they love, this little exercise can be perfect for those times when a long session of writing isn’t possible. You could even do a series of these based on quotes or poems from the same author. The possibilities are endless. So give it a try – and let me know how it goes!