One of our favourite exercises is the list poem. Simply pick a topic (like "love" or "shame" or "going out out") and then write a list poem, using "It is..." as the beginning of each sentence.
Rules: every line starts with "It is..."; max. 12 lines - make it as visual and vibrant as you can!
Example (chosen topic "Passion for the Planet"):
Passion for the Planet
It is stopping to pick up litter from the pavement
It is waving a placard in protest
It is feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square
It is cycling to work even when you’re hungover
It is veganuary and vegbruary and
It is Marching onwards
It is going paperless
It is creating a shrine in your room to Gaia
Absolutely LOVE some of the phrases in this! "Amorphous and trembling in the presence of sound". Beautiful. I also particularly liked the "grim pastiche on a pedestal". You've got a great ear for the rhythm of words; they bounce and tumble but still resonate and seem to linger with a kind of aesthetic eloquence, images like the "wobbling, white-hot centre of the sun", for example. I love the way the poem flows, generally, and the capitalized intrusion of your "GO CAREFULLY..." instruction - it's all bright-dark, vivid, invocative.
My only suggestion (which obviously feel free to take or leave) would be that it might be even better if you took out the "it looks like" follow-ups, and let the "It doesn't look like..." openings do their negative magic in the reader's mind, i.e. let them, via negation, invoke amorphous and trembling surrogates as the reader naturally seeks sense and certainty in the absence of it. (It's a shame to cut them altogether, I know - perhaps there could be a separate "It looks like..." poem here?)
Thank you so much for sharing this Lily!
It doesn’t look like meaning - it looks like the absence of it.
It doesn’t look like shimmering, vivid colour - it looks like a black hole sucking everything around it into a dense singularity.
It doesn’t look like the glistening cross-section of an orange sliced perfectly in two - it looks like two halves that cannot be divided, and the mess that spills out when you try.
GO CAREFULLY. IF YOU LOOK TOO LONG, YOU WILL BECOME A PART OF IT.
It doesn’t look like the slow curl of a suppressed smile - it looks like a pile of teeth.
It doesn’t look like the wobbling white-hot centre of the sun - it looks like the fractal gaps between the unfurling arms of a snowflake
It doesn’t look like the impressions of seams on skin at the end of the day - it looks like hard granite carved into a grim pastiche on a pedestal.
It doesn’t look like a sea of faces, the rippling applause, or the standing ovation - it looks like dusty red threadbare curtains, frayed and faded.