Poetry prompt: “Collage” your way to creativity

A collage as an art form was especially popular in dada movement. Many artists used this technique to provoke their unconscious thinking and explore metaphysical origins of reality. For example Hans Arp was famous for making a series of collages based on chance; he would stand above a sheet of paper, let squares of contrasting colored paper fall on the larger sheet’s surface, and then he would glue the squares – in any position they took by falling. Arp was interested in I-Ching fortune telling (where coins fallen by chance were interpreted for future forecasting) and he was curios what kind of visceral reaction would his art produce.
So how can you use technique of collaging to exercise your creativity?
The basic idea is for you to find small items, pictures, texts and letters from newspaper –anything that moves you and that you can rearrange into your own collage poem. By collaging your items, a new reality will start to form. Prune anything you find excess and look at new relations, surprises, metaphors, combinations. Your mind will try to justify any item by its origin, position, and dimension. This is an excellent exercise for your creative rebel, to shout, to say, to sing, to whisper anything in particular you can’t. Let this collage poem be the messenger of your creativity.


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Poetry prompt: Jot things down

Whenever you have an idea – write it down. No matter how silly, impossible, distant from the solution you’ve been contemplating, write it down. This unconstrained writing, where you simply don’t censure your thoughts is a technique called free-writing” or “free association”. You can go even step further and write it in the form of a poem.

I pretend this white page is a container,
a casket,
I can fill
with all of my screams and strengths’ of my lungs
that drip needless heart beats.

I pretend
I climb this white page and I linger on its edge
dangle, like an elephant’s rotten fang
I balance between words of sweetness and kindness
what I ought to be
and my giant gap mouth
ready to exfoliate rusty voice.

I pretend this white page is nimble
feasible enough to be my blanket in hours
of loneliness in the streets,
in the minutes of unanswered phone calls
in seconds of disillusioned awe
when I need to cover myself
and escape your stone-sturdy face.


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Poetry Prompt: Group effort

Once you become comfortable enough with your own creativity, why not spice up things and work in groups? So grab some of your “pen-friends”, play together and see how can you inspire and help each other become more creative.

Visual stimulation can unleash your imagination in the most exciting ways. You can pick some random picture and each of players has to make a story in the form of poem, inspired by the picture. Afterwards, you can all debate and see whose story is the most interesting or you can take it step further and compile all stories into one: it has to be believable and follow some logical structure. It’s best suited for groups of two, three people. With certain moderation you can use these ideas for your own creativity exercises, as well.

Every lock has a key.
there are ones you have to go

Look for. Search under every rock,
frisk every pocket and empty the tiniest

Drawer.

There are the ones you need to steal in order to enter
that want you to be brave, look fear strait in the eyes and defend
them with your body.

And there are the ones, just in front of your nose, but cleverly disguised,

Ones able to mold themselves to every hole and with one click

Takes you there.

If you listen carefully to jingling no door are closed to you.


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Poetry prompt: Try walking in their shoes

This prompt is all about changing perspective – viewing situation from someone else’s point of view. If you feel stuck with your writing, or you experience some oppositions from your peers in advancing with your project, this can be a good exercise to experience a different perspective and tackle problem form different angle. You can write about situation seen from a different cultural, educational background or even about sub-cultural differences. Prepare yourself for writing by getting acquainted with the culture you chose – through reading, watching documentaries, ext. For example, someone addicted to romance novels might try to write as someone who likes horror movies and stories with gothic elements.

This is skill we want to develop especially if we are engaged in fiction writing. It can help you foster empathy, broaden your view of the world and how other people think and feel.

Selfish sun

They think I’m the center.
Center of the galaxy.
That the world revolves around me.
I watch stars born and eat themselves to death.
I watch planets chase each other in dim vacuum
Showering meteorites at this lovely, blue midget planet
So confused and lost in its own grief and greed.
I watch how its people praise me for giving them life
And light. They sing songs about me and write verses.
But I burn, burn with each day and night more.
Boiling in my own redemption, fighting my own darkness.
That’s all I know and care for.


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Poetry prompt: Visualize with words

This exercise is very simple, yet effective:

Your task is to name three things, topics, projects – whatever you are working on (or would like to achieve) and describe them using words you never used before to describe them; how that accomplishment looks like, feels like. Try to be descriptive as much as you can, use your senses and be precise – write a poem about it.

Independence

‘No man is an island’, one poet said.

Yet I like to think of my life as an independent state.

I like my sovereignty, being my own boss,

making my own decisions.

As my flag proudly flaunts on the wind,

There are no borders or walls. It’s safe for you

To  cross on my side.

 

Self-confidence.

It used to be just a label. An exterior you need

To validate your worth. But you, an extension

Of everything breathing and living in this very moment,

You are all you need to be, you are light.

 

Instinct

It’s not a feeling. It’s not knowledge. It’s a voice you

Neglect so often but it recognizes better than

your mum and dad,

brother and sister,

friend or colleague

What is best for you,

but you often shut that voice down.

Listen when it whispers, it has answers to all your questions.


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Poetry prompt: Going sideways for boosting creativity

Write a poem using kennings. The word ‘kenning’ comes from the Old Norse verb að kenna, which means ‘to describe’ or ‘to understand’.

Bed of fish, smooth path of ships, island-ring, realm of lobsters, slopes of the sea-king, whale-house, land of the ocean-noise, blood of the earth, frothing beer of the coastline…

These are some of the terms and phrases used by the Viking and Anglo-Saxon poets to name/describe the sea.

Poetry asks us to think and view the world from the different perspective. And kennings question our habitual way of thinking and are an excellent ice-breaker for writing block.

Poetry (list of kennings)

A lost ’n’ found companion,
Words, making different unions,

language of the beauty and emotion
captured moment, written in ocean

Ongoing play of syllables,
Ambiguity, sign of mutables

Expression of non existent
Perspective of all existent

Illusions coming true
A saviour when I’m feeling blue

A rhyme worth any dime

Fastest creativity
Life’s ingenuity

Post-it note in lover’s pocket
A heart flying to the moon on the rocket

Who I am

Who I am not

Who I might be

Who I am becoming.


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Poetry prompt: Let’s travel

Today, I will suggest some simple exercises that might help you move forward in right direction or bring clarity when it comes to problem solving.

First exercise: Time travel. That is one of the greatest desires of humans: time travel. As a kid and a great fan of Star trek series, whenever was happening something I didn’t like I would pretend I’m teleporting myself to different world and time. But looking at it from a scientific point of view, time as a parameter was invented by humans in order to give meaning to natural quality of impermanence. Eminent scientists, such as Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne are allured with the possibility of time travel and continue to debate about it in their most recent works.

So why not play around with this notion by ourselves?

Imagine you were in a different time period, maybe 10, 100 or 500 years ago and how then would you deal with the problem? You don’t have your computer, phone, car or even electricity at your disposal, just met your basic needs. How would you approach your problem with fewer resources at hand? Or, you can go in future and imagine you have everything you need to achieve your creative goals, and more. In 10 years or 200 years ahead, how your situation would be different?

Second exercise: Space travel. Stage your situation in completely different geographical (or even planetary) location where conditions are completely opposite. Different climate, different culture and different societal values influence life: how that would impact your creativity, realization of your creative goals? It’s interesting where our imagination can take us and how that can raise some additional points of view – just thinking about the problem differently conditions new ideas to come forth. In this way, you are giving yourself opportunity to experience your creativity in an unexplored manner. You can write a poem about it, or a short story.

We faithfully plant a seed in the ground.

Eagerly we return to the park next year to same spot. Shy, greenish leaves

In height of shoe sol peak from dry soil.

It’s still there, 20 years after – an oak tree, alone but satisfied

With spread wooden arms towards the sky, stretching its spine, breaking

Making home for new feathery denizens.

That’s the moment we knew we are not lost:

crawl, walk or run – just go towards your own light.


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Poetry prompt: Mind mapping through poetry

Since our creativity can be unpredictable, often times we can find ourselves having that huge idea, but still not managing to record all details, write everything down without losing a bit of it.

So for today I propose to you little tool that I use regularly to brainstorm a problem, or a project idea. I have found it to be quite helpful. It’s mind mapping – with a twist. Probably most of you are aware of this technique but as the old Latin proverb says, “Repetition is the mother of all knowledge.” Mind mapping can help you become more creative, train your visual thinking, memory, and solve problems more effectively.

The basic notion behind this technique is to visually capture, connect and sort out information, or even get a great amount of information under control in order to generate new and fresh ideas.

The process is quite simple:

  1. You put in the center (of your paper) your main idea.
  2. Around that idea, now write all other topics that relates to your idea, establishing new relations among main and side topics.
  3. It’s almost like forming a tree where each branch further drives you
    to generate more details and more connections.
  4. And now the twist: try to think of this map you are building
    like it is a poem.

Instead of dry listing topics and ideas, with the words and phrases you chose, give your map a rhythm, lyrical note. Use adjectives, describe emotions related to your idea, expectations, why is it important. Imagine you are writing a concrete poem for example.

Black                                           means                                          White

Simple                             no                 space required

 Writing

No explanations              is                   expression

Who I am                              impossible                        in  that moment


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Poetry prompt: Work with opposites

Many of us get trapped in ordinary, routine thinking which makes it hard to get into a mood of generating fresh and innovative ideas. We routinely get up every morning, brush our teeth, drink coffee, go to work – mostly every day at a same time, using the same route…And to tell you the truth, it can be a creativity killer. What we need is to mix up things a little bit, challenge our habits, language and way of thinking.

We are also aware that we do live in the world comprised of opposites. In Chinese philosophy and especially in Taoism, Universe is seen through the lens of yin and yang energy, male and female, strong and weak, dark and bright, cold and warm. Perceiving reality from the opposite side can give us clue in which direction we need to move forward in order to sort things out.

So for this exercise, as a warm up I propose you pick some ordinary words, something you frequently use in your language and list the opposite meaning of that word; first that comes to your mind.

For example:

sky – bottom, ground

water – dry, yellow, sand

coffee – tea, sweet, cold

work – vacation, free time, relaxation

Do this for a limited time, maybe five to ten minutes. The idea of these warming up exercises is to somehow ‘flush out’ that ordinary thinking, and give room for more ideas to come and encourage creative problem solving.

As a next step you can pick your real problem/project you are working on and apply similar technique. If you repeatedly struggle with something, “turn over” your thinking: instead of trying to develop your best solution, think of the worst thing could happen. How can your project fail? What is the worst scenario? Write every detail of that, using some key words related to your project and answering questions when, how, who, why, how much ext. To make it more fun, write a poem about it.

The blank paper stares at me.
It only not stares: it mocks me.

Whiteness like huge mouth ready
to swallow me.
Mind wages its own war –

Not enough wordly munition to spit,
to fill the blanks of my hollow day.

Pain depletes creative power,
dressing me in new fear: when I
will I write full time again?


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Poetry prompt: Mix and match

Below are written couple of words:

sky table spice medicine
hope flesh doing escape
inevitable immense minuscule golden-brown
chew pull face inhale
in between cryptic soft people

Write three haikus or very short poems, using in each poem one noun and one adjective from the list above.

I look for one face:
One that softly reflects warmth

As I sit at  this cold, marble  table
On which immense end shall I search for you?

Countless people, minuscule like chess figures
They defend the king with their burning wooden bodies.


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