Poetry Friday: Exquisite Corpse Poem

This month, poetry met parlor game as the Poetry Sisters collaborated to create an Exquisite Corpse poem. Unlike the “rules,” we did not use an agreed-upon structure and we constructed the poem one line at a time rather than one word at a time. Liz started us off, sending Tanita her line. Based on Liz’s line, Tanita wrote a line and then send just her line to Kelly. From Kelly, a line went to Sara. Andi was next, then Laura, Tricia, and finally me. Here’s what we wrote:

This month, odd one out, running short on days and sleep,
This month, past meets pride, roots ripped from native soil still somehow grow.
The once-bright future dims. Shadows grow
But there, near canyon  rim, in  broken light
the yearling hawk shrieked in futile fury
and the steel-edged clouds looked away
trees bow and bend on a blustery day
that rattles old oak leaves down the street.

In creating our final drafts from this rich loam of raw material, we agreed that it was fair game to use as much or little of the original as we saw fit. Here’s the best of my many drafts.

Poetry Sister Tricia has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with:
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

 Next month we are writing ekphrastic Doditsu. You can learn about this poetic from Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest. They are a little more complicated than a simple syllable count, as I once believed! The Dodoitsu often focuses on love or work with a comical twist. We are sharing images in our group, but you can write to anything you like. If you want to be inspired by my image, here’s what I shared. 

The oak leaf photo above is via Unsplash.

21 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Exquisite Corpse Poem”

  1. Mary Lee, I like your matter-of-fact tone here, which works so well for me, even though the images themselves are dramatic. It makes the poem feel like an accessible poem, which is what I love–but not workaday by any means. That abstraction of past meeting pride–I’m so glad you kept it in here, even though I don’t quite know what it means. This feels like a little jewel of nature, like a perfect acorn you might pick up in the woods.


  2. Love the sensory details in your harvested poem, Mary Lee. Especially the second stanza…I saw those leaves “rattle down the street”. 🙂


  3. This process intrigues me, seeing how each of you turned the lines into poetry. This poem leaves me wondering what’s coming next.


  4. You managed to keep so much of the original, Mary Lee, and yet, magically deepen it. Must be all those years of encouraging students to bloom. (I also love how you changed the more passive ‘broken” to “breaks” for the light!)


  5. This form is so intriguing! One of the things I love about this group is how much I am learning. And everyone’s offerings make the new forms less scary to try – gentle invitations to stretch poetic minds.
    Thinking of February as the odd one out is perfect!


  6. I’m so enjoying this glimpse at your collective creation of raw material, and the results of your individual creative efforts! I love these lines “But there / light breaks the steel-edged clouds.” Reminds us to always look for the hope, even when it feels like it’s dimming. Perfect words for this week. Thank you for sharing them with us.


  7. Having read through our poems in order I’m getting a sense of how we revise, what we see as hopeful, and what imagery draws us in. I love that with yours I’m getting a sense of a neatly pruned bush in contrast to the brush that lines the canyon … When past meets pride – negatively here – that is when the shadows come, and there’s no hawk to uplift, but still in the light…

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  8. Mary Lee — I often ask my picture book students to boil their drafts down the purest form and, to me, that’s exactly what you’ve done here. I love it — most especially those rattley leaves.


  9. Mary Lee, two lines in your poem got my attention. First, you called February the odd one out and the last line of the 2nd stanza where oak leaves rattle. Rattle is a good word for now. Crunchy leaves still haunt the streets and bring all their waste up onto my porch for shelter. I tried an Exquisite Corpse poem but changed the rules to match our February poem project lines. I did capture one of your lines.


  10. ooooh! I love your image. At first, I was kinda stumped…but then the metaphors! I really like “odd one out/short on sleep and days” It’s a great setup for the poem.


  11. I’ve watched the news as much as possible, glad that they have not dimmed this new wonderful nomination for the Supreme Court vacancy, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, but “the once bright future dims” strikes me as an apt reflection. I’ve read a few others, making my way through this wonderful collaboration the PoetryPals have done.


  12. I love seeing how you all took the raw materials (carefully considered by each of you) and did your own distinctive thing with with form and selection and recombinant creativity. I once gave a class of 2nd graders one of my poems to cut up and re arrange, to see where they thought line breaks should go…and got a superb lesson from a kid who either didn’t understand or didn’t care to follow those directions, who cut it up his own way and glued it into a whole new poem! I feel like Ukraine is February right now…


  13. Mary Lee, I love “But there” — in this month, when the “future dims”, “light breaks.” I like what you did here.


  14. So many stunning images, Mary Lee! I love that “light breaks the steel-edge clouds.” The courage and strength of the Ukrainians has been a light for me the past few days. Thank you for always bringing more light into the world.


  15. Your take feels like a concise, succinct, yet still lyrical look at February’s essence. Lovely. Always love these process posts from the Poetry Sisters!


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