Poetry Friday — Autumn Cento

Autumn Cento 

Little grey dreams
holding up the hawk:
a blur in the periphery.
I’ve little time left.
Everything’s been said.
My heart is so giant this evening
following old
migratory patterns that would have been better left alone.
Someone raised a camera to capture us both in a moment;
the only gift I have to give.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021


1. Little Grey Dreams by Angelina Weld Grimké
2. In Gratitude by Abigail Carroll
3. The Hummingbird by Blas Falconer
4. Elegy for Estrogen by V. Penelope Pelizzon
5.  Rabbits and Fire by Albert Rios
6.  First by Carrie Fountain
7-8.  anti-immigration by Evie Shockley
9.  The Vine by Laura Kasischke
10. Offering by Albert Garcia

Molly’s challenge for the Inklings this month was to try a poetry form that was new to us. I tried a tricube, a rondelet, and this cento. The definition of a cento (from poets.org) is “From the Latin word for “patchwork,” the cento (or collage poem) is a poetic form composed entirely of lines from poems by other poets.”

I was downstairs in my “studio,” doing some stitching and catching up on episodes of The Slowdown podcast. Rather than using a concrete/old school approach (poring over books of poetry, copying down lines by hand, cutting them apart, and rearranging them into a poem), I used a digital approach (listening to the poem, copy/pasting the line I liked, and hyperlinking the poem in my list of sources).

Here’s how the rest of the Inklings met Molly’s challenge:

Linda@A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Catherine@Reading to the Core
Margaret@Reflections on the Teche

Michelle has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Michelle Kogan. She’s celebrating holidays and happy poetry news along with some of her gorgeous cards and several poems!

Take note…next week I’ll put up the signup for Poetry Friday Roundup Hosts for January-June 2022! Get ready to claim your spot!

17 thoughts on “Poetry Friday — Autumn Cento”

  1. Wow Mary Lee, thanks for this journey you took me on via your poem. Your last line and Albert Garcia’s, and last talk by Ada Limón speak to me. How easy it is to be misunderstood, and how deliciously tastey those small berries are… “First” is pretty incredible too! Thanks for the thought-provoking links and your unique poem!


  2. I’ve never heard of a cento, Mary Lee, but I now can reference your poem as a great mentor poem for this form. (I especially like your digital approach. 🙂 )


  3. Oh, my goodness. This takes my breath away. And, I love how smooth the lines fit together as if they were already a poem. You make me wish I had written a cento. I love the mystery and the finality of the last three lines. Just perfect. You are an amazing teacher.


  4. The lines you chose meld together like a woven blanket, each one holding the next. I love imaging you working on this. The Slowdown is such a gift. Thanks for keeping me coming back to it.


    1. Good for you! You’re well trained indeed!! I thought I’d give folks a heads-up this time. But don’t go and forget next week!


  5. Ditto what Linda said — at first reading I assumed all the words were your own. Great job weaving together the lines. Always nice to learn about new forms and see inspiring examples of how it’s done. 🙂


  6. This is full of beautiful tension between past, present, future–it manages to be in all at once, with just the grey dreams holding it to the sky. *exhale of intrigue and satisfaction*
    I’m trawling the SlowDown too.


  7. Mary Lee, your Cento poem highlights your ability to seamlessly weave lines from various sources into a coherent new piece. I have no doubt this required quite some reading, research and collecting. This is a poem of persistence and patience. Well done.


  8. I find this form so challenging, Mary Lee. Your hawk poem is beautiful. The arrangement of these three lines is … WOW!

    My heart is so giant this evening
    following old
    migratory patterns that would have been better left alone.


  9. Mary Lee, I am happy to have some me time to continue reading PF posts. I have never tried a centro but enjoyed reading the poem and then checking on where the lines came from. “My heart is so giant this evening” so thank you for the gift you brought to the page.


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