Patchwork poem

… an ongoing investigation into form… 

Today I’d like to share a writing prompt from Poets & Writers: 

A cento, Latin for “patchwork,” is a poem composed entirely of fragments and lines taken from other poems and/or written sources. Try creating your own patchwork poem by incorporating lines from various poems in a poetry anthology. For inspiration, read David Lehman’s cento in the New York Times.

A true cento is composed entirely of lines from other sources. Early examples can be found in the work of Homer and Virgil.

Here is a fine example called Wolf Cento by Simone Muench

Very quick. Very intense, like a wolf
at a live heart, the sun breaks down. 
What is important is to avoid
the time allotted for disavowels
as the livid wound 
leaves a trace      leaves an abscess 
takes its contraction for those clouds
that dip thunder & vanish
like rose leaves in closed jars.
Age approaches, slowly. But it cannot 
crystal bone into thin air.
The small hours open their wounds for me. 
This is a woman’s confession: 
I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me.

Sources: [Anne SextonDylan ThomasLarry Levis, Ingeborg Bachmann, Octavio Paz, Henri Michaux, Agnes Nemes Nagy, Joyce Mansour, William Burroughs, Meret Oppenheim, Mary Low, Adrienne RichCarl Sandburg]

3 Comments Add yours

  1. dianajhale says:

    Another thing for amateurs like me to try!

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