Writing Exercise: Complexity in simple things

(developed by Roger Mitchell*)
Write a poem that is a list of things. These might be real things — objects in the room where you write — or imagined things. They might or might not have some association with each other. You need not write in complete sentences. The point is to think about the power that images, in themselves, have, and about the best way to describe things so that the reader will sense them in all their complexity.

Ariella’s Entry:

Jars of jam all lined up in a row above our fridge, their home-tied bows still stuck on. Empty vase that sits beside a big steel bowl, a tin case your grandmother gave you. Two old wooden boxes lined with flowers engraved on that open up to five sealed stamps, some black-and-white photos of people you’ve never met, seashells your mother brought back for you years ago.

Tabby’s Entry:

a tilted blue laser light alarm clock; a noisy, useless fan; a softened and worn down air mattress; a thirsty ivy plant; a mess of organized cables; upright and cheerful picture frames; a line of various books, an abandoned chair, a display of beautiful containers of smell-good lotion, a large box of aged and forgotten photos.

Kristin’s Entry:

Antiqued and evocative Nepali mask that smells of travels and wanderlust
     books upon books upon books with pages of letters that add up to feeling
imaginarily edible candles placed on teak beds that catch the hot wax as it weeps
                 Burt's Bees that heals the chap
 life force in a purple bottle
   a tasty Blackberry buzzing red
and time… time locked up in glass

PS. We’re posting these by order of who completed the exercise first, as it will show up in the comments in that order as well.


18 Responses to “Writing Exercise: Complexity in simple things”

  1. Emily Says:

    hospital when my brother broke his arm
    brother in a tux at his prom
    my cat keir being lazy
    some friends at 2 am we’re crazy
    my best friend and her arabian horse
    three cousins and myself on the porch
    a group of friends our “clique”
    a broken frame i need to fix
    my baby cousin with santa
    my cousin and i under the umbrella
    cheerleading team
    family at sea
    sweet sixteen
    clip from magazine
    skiing halloween driving
    school pictures
    myriad of pictures

  2. LI Says:

    My english is bad!
    I can’t write what i want…

  3. Lydia Says:

    My apartment, a haven of peace and tranquility with its simple interior. On the walls, a picture of dolphins in the sea, a picture entitled ‘first kiss’ with a mother giraffe who gives her baby a kiss and a huge close-up photo of a red rose entitled ‘Passion….nothing in the world has ever been accomplished without passion’.
    A shelf filled with books, a drawer with magazines and a CD case filled with beautiful music. A drawer with favorite movies. A much treasured makeup bag and jewelry box but the rule is ‘Less is more’.
    Two corkboards with photos to visualize dreams.
    The kitchen. Not much in the fridge. Green and red apples. Lots of bottles of water. A few bottles of Coca Cola.
    Parfume. A nice soft fragrance as finishing touch to head into the world.

  4. Aishah Says:

    Only brightness of the monitor lights the room, the top of the rack full with books, a radio underneath, plus a red big box accompanied by its loose cover. Walls, the space for various posters and a pin-board, decorated with colors and future-past reminders. One guitar laying still, safely in its black aged case. Nothing is complete without a place to rest, o my baby blue, soft blanket covering it.

    This is my first time ever writing a poem, i hope mine doesnt suck that much.. 🙂

  5. Jen Says:

    Dreams of floating to the moon and eyeless monsters unable to play
    Dali’s ‘Untitled’
    head of flowers
    in the desert of surrealism
    from the Louvre suspended in air
    ‘Night Hawks’ together and yet
    absolutely alone
    Apples, bowler hats, and suits with red ties
    The sea
    Millions of black marks on white pages, some
    WILDE and RANDy,
    Others CRANEing their necks for attention

  6. Denise Says:

    My mind racing like the legs of an eight legged freak,my heart thumping to the sound of the beats coming out of the music box, distracted by the sound of thunder in the air, the taste of strawberry chap stick lingers on my lips,the barks of a dog in the distance,I think about the crystal light, but its a gray day,not a soul in sight….

  7. prad robert Says:

    It’s what I felt when I watched old Britain building and young girls under the rain yesterday.

    Odeur de poudre mouillé , canon muet
    Des pensées des dames , qui pleurent
    Le sang des sombres cieux , qui coule
    Et siffle sur leurs peaux , tuiles charnues.

  8. Denise Says:

    The smell of smoke lingers in the air, the house shakes as explosions of color irrupt in the sky, water in the glass swirls around like a tornado ready to attack, a pencil falls to the ground as the vibrations from the celebration outside shake the desk it once lay on. The cheers end, the many people I once saw through my window now vanish.A couple stop and hug, like they are embracing our Independence day.

    Happy 4th of July to those who celebrate it!!!

  9. Denise Says:

    I am so bored, so I made yet another one in like 1 minute, im not sure if I even did it right.. Oh well 🙂

    A single bowl, that was once filled with food; a clear bottle, used to quench my thirst; a flickering light, coming from a broken light bulb; the night sky, motionless; a messy bed, where I dream at night; a tube of anti-itch cream, to ease the throbbing pain in my arm where a insect fed off of my blood to live; a single sock lying alone on the floor, its partner nowhere in sight; the posters on my wall staring down at me, the sound of the forgotten water boiling on the stove; an empty room.

  10. Maxima Says:

    …a stack of imaginary “Thank You” notes to be read earlier in life; a container made of cotton with Deer’s breast packed in salt; various crayons that in the morning are all in light colors, and as the day goes by they slowly turn darker; bread rolls stuffed with tea; hot banana cake with a bucket of bitter liquer thrown over the top of it; small details of my future book “Do I Exist?” escaping from my head.

  11. Scott123 Says:

    Just amazing! Absolutely Incredible! Oh My God! Holy Cow! Holy Toledo! Holy Smoke! Holy Moley! Wholly Involved! Unbelievable! Utterly fantastic! I can’t believe my eyes! Sensational! Great Scott! Great Ceaser’s Ghost! Great googly moogly! What? No way… I can’t be out of expressions… Well, that tears it…How cliche’..;)


  12. Kristin Says:

    My electrics feel the room with unwanted heat,
    My most prized possession hidden away,
    My i-pod marching to its own beat,
    My signed Ducks jerseys sway,
    My guitars are sitting idle while I think,
    My TV always has the same thing playing,
    My pictures of the hockey rink,
    My possessions are staying,
    My Smallville collection,
    And finally my blackberry’s recollection.

  13. Denise Says:

    Aishah that was good for your first 🙂

  14. Marie*Andree Says:

    My journal all FULL of words in every page that give life to only some few moments of my life..,
    A shelf that it´s full of all kinds of books:D that from the outside they are a little bit similar but in the inside it´s like being transported in a totally different world without moving any muscle..And my eyes are looking at the computer´s screen wich it has no definitive image because in a few seconds you can find yourself in a whole diferent place and change the only idea that you had of something..But you didn´t know that those 3 simple things have their own different an unique stories,ideas and details to tell and share to our world. The simple little things have alot of simple little things that SHOW that all together create something maybe not that simple..but irrepleaceble…!!!*:)

  15. Gina Says:

    In a world where there are many choices, I choose to turn on the computer and as soon as I turn it on, I see 3 tempting programs as I make my way onto the internet. Photoshop, openCanvas and Paint Tool SAI. Art block grabs me by the hem of my shirt and throws me rough against the wall. I’m going nowhere now. The speakers are blasting Panic! at the Disco. It flows into my ears as I know the words and can sing right on key. The mouse is the mouse that I’m familiar with – the one I’ve drawn with for years. We are both connected like an umbilical cord just as a pencil is connected to an artist’s hand.

    Sorry, I’m not so good at writing poems, but I try! ^__^

  16. skahahoo Says:

    orange hand
    so there i stand
    pitter pat
    the rain taps
    an intersection
    its blurred reflection
    a kaliedoscope
    of lights
    still waiting for
    that traffic light
    cabs swish
    buses groan
    L train rumbles
    underneath concrete
    which in the heat
    is steaming
    kabob cart sizzles
    hot dogs, pretzels
    tummy grumbles but
    the white walker
    signals go

  17. Aishah Says:

    Why, thank youu there Denise for the kind words! 🙂

  18. lenna Says:

    Tangled up in spells and secret inner thoughts
    the Witch Kings daughter screams in agony and guilt.
    Being flooded with visions of her painful past,
    she has long sought to put behind her.
    Nothing can stop her from what she sees.
    No one can protect her from her minds eye.
    Sitting in front of the hearth,
    pondering her non-existing fate.
    “What will become of me?” she questions.
    No one replies, for they know not the answer.
    She shivers from sorrow and dismay,
    the fire is burning intently but she shivers.
    With the mystery that is her destiny,
    the Witch Kings daughter saunters into the woods,
    and with one little tumble she falls.
    Faster and faster to the ground that swallows her whole.
    What happened to the Witch Kings daughter?
    She has sank into bloody dreams
    of terror and demise.
    Frightened for those who will next become,
    the Witch King and his daughter.

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