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Two exercises to help you write poetically

Poetry is a great primer for beginning a writing session. If you read yesterday’s post, Write lyrically by reading poetry, you know why author Cristina Garcia reads poetry before she writes. Now you can learn how to use poetry as part of your writing practice. Try these exercises.

Exercise 1
Capture something from your subconscious. Pick several poems to read. Read to yourself and aloud. As you hear a poem, write down anything that catches your ear — A sentence, phrase, word. Any snippet that resonates. This helps you raid your unconscious. You are discovering something you didn’t even realize you were thinking about. Take this piece of writing and examine it for meaning. You may find this meaning takes you on a path in your work that you didn’t see coming. This will inform your writing and propel you forward.

As Grace Paley said, “Write about what you don’t know you know.”

Exercise 2
Find imagery you can weave into a paragraph. Invite chaos. Good sentences should be textured. You should almost be able to read them with your fingertips like Braille, says Garcia. Imagery enlivens writing. Use poetry — phrases or words — to inspire poetic language in your writing whether it’s a short story, memoir or novel.

Garcia recommended these books as good poetry sources: The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry  and The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry by J.D. McClatchy

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