A Writing Prompt from David Tomas Martinez

Each Friday we're posting a new writing prompt created by one of our authors. Prompts like this one are included in our reader's guides along with discussion questions and suggested further reading to accompany each title. So if you can't wait a week for the next prompt, visit our Sarabande in Education page to find them all in one place!

Today's prompt comes from David Tomas Martinez, who will be giving a reading in Louisville tonight alongside writers from the Sarabande Writing Labs program. (For more information, see here.) This was a popular prompt among our SWL participants, and we hope it's a useful one for you as well!

 

Borrowed Lines

In an attempt to subvert my own intentions, I will sometimes take a famous line or the beginning of a poem I admire, and begin a poem by slightly riffing off my favorite lines. For instance, in Section 7 of Calaveras, I take lines written by Neruda and alter them. Instead of  “Tonight I can write the saddest lines,” I write, “Tonight I can write the most violent lines.” 

Pick a poem that you love and write a poem about a personal experience you have had. Try to surprise yourself. Can you successfully integrate the appropriated lines into a poem? Can you differentiate it from the original? 

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