Archive for the ‘My Word is My Bond: Writing Assignments’ Category

Writing Exercise: Haiku

August 5, 2008

Write a haiku based on the theme of technology.

Kristin’s Entry:

Racing through wires
Peach pits, stagnant, collect flies
Lithe forms remembered

Tabby’s Entry:

unbiased judging
life’s going on around it
no compassion left


Writing Assignment: Before

July 24, 2008

Write what happened just before the photograph, below, was taken.

Tabby’s Entry:

hop hop hop went the frog through the bushes
she laughed in delight as it croaked its delectable goodbye.

Featured Guest Writers



July 17, 2008


Look at Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” Write a poem that looks at one object (probably a relatively innocuous object) from varying perspectives through a number of short, linked poems.

Kristin’s Entry:

French… pedicure
Polite and pretty dressed in light leather, for strolling.
Clean.  Definitely clean.   Memories of cake, frosting specifically.

Upon one there is balance.  Upon one there is dependency for stability.
Extremities of the extremity blanched, drained.  Clawing into to get out of,
Spread outward, release, let colors rush back in.
Flying there upon one.

Silly toes practical
Heels padded
Wrinkles and more wrinkles when I look down.  My whole life scrawled there.
   pulsing aches from walks and heels and balance
charcoal dirt from tossing aside shoes to DANCE.  reckless.   Play
    solid.  Climbing up rocks over twigs onto branches, bare and exposed. Exploratory.

and deadly

Tabby’s Entry:

Rough and rigid
he stands
homeless eyes pleading for money
for warmth. for

I wait, trapped by this homeless man, stiff… eyes gazing down
avoiding eye contact. If I look into those eyes
I am obligated to give
when I have nothing
and I’m not asking

He is the single most entertainment I get in a day. I watch as he provokes, sweet talks, and otherwise pleads with false declarations. He doesn’t even believe in God. What do the homeless know about God anyway?

I hold him up, a thin layer of protection between the ground and him. I’m happier to be here than in the junk yard. At least I can protect him here more than there. Homeless is better than junk.

He walks, cursing the ground with each step. Homeless, alone, and insane. He knows no other world but knows he hates this one.

His homeless hungry heart will never be put together again. Not in the right way, anyway

Thinking in Images

July 10, 2008

Pick an abstract term from the list below and relate an image to it. This should be the first thing that comes to mind, whether its directly related or not. Once you have identified an image, write a short story, poem, or prose based on that image.

1 2 3 4 5 6
rage solitude mercy peace love death
order ecstasy pain war family violence
justice evil hunger history gift age
common gratitude god angel tragedy birth

Kristin’s Entry:

the clock moves in time with rhythm
set in increments, man-made
steady and c o n s i s t a n t
my heart, defiantly, leaps this way and that
sprinting forward believing in the finish line…
thunderous mind
                           racing to find still
interested in the I WIN! Scenario
       the I SUCK!
less       judgement
My brain says up or down
    This or that

Breath in
Out   in out
The heaven hell chattering rambling compartmentalizing
     in and out
waves crashing receding
lovers colliding dividing
   my breath carries in life
carries out
is mind-
   less connection
to peace

Tabby’s Entry:

boxes filled with sweat
the place we first met
combinations forgotten
showers feel rotten
stories untold
shame unfolds
a place to dread
a memory to leave for dead

Writing Exercise

July 9, 2008

Ban on Adverbs & Adjectives
Write a poem that contains no adjectives or adverbs whatsoever. This means no colour names, no qualifiers (“soft,” “very”), none of the words we tend to think of as “poetic.” Instead, take the time to embody the adjective within a noun or a verb. “The thin, pale tree” could become “the birch,” or “he walked slowly,” might be replaced with “he dawdled.” It’s not necessarily to omit all adjectives on the first draft, but with each successive draft you should remove adjectives until you have a poem that is adjective-free.

Kristin’s Entry:

a beat-box
    trips up
on the curb

   sunward when it rises
the beat
Man is
          Halt!  Wait!
Not yet
        not ready
can't seem to get beyond morning
        the beat starts
and is silenced when the sun hits noon
  the chorus ending

Tabby’s Entry:

my life is this:
it is summer.
it is wind.
it is fun.
it is cold.
it is silly.
it is warm.
it is now.

7 Word Mondays

July 7, 2008

Use all of the following seven words to construct a poem, short story, or prose:
quintessential, sapphire, driftwood, undulate, tendril, tremolo, pinafore

Kristin’s Entry:

Nearly sapphire leaves cling desperately to the driftwood as it floats out to sea. The Autumn winds have pulled them, in their October weakness into chaotic rootlessness. Some find resting places and others whip desperately
Undulating in this quintessential journey of death. It is as though She, with the tendrils of her hair, the tremolo of her song, the slight swing of her pinafore moves the whole world into a turbulent stumble into slumber.

Tabby’s Entry:

Her worn pinafore waved behind her as she stood amongst the banks, a tendril of hair falling in her soft round face. From the darkness of the water, she listened to the tremolo of song emerging, waiting for a burst of excitement.

There needs to be more of these days, she thought, closing her sapphire eyes and leaning against the large deposits of driftwood on the shore. These dancing thoughts she entertained were so perfect, so inline with happiness and imparted wisdom, that they would be the quintessential recollection of her time in this place.

7 Word Sundays

July 6, 2008

Use all of the following seven words to construct a poem, short story, or prose:
footloose, beach, sluggish, cheesecake, tenderness, anachronism, prism, perhaps

Kristin’s Entry:

Perhaps. I am watching the waves recede back into the depths of the Ocean, my heart full of tenderness. His kindness seemed like an anachronism from this prism of sadness. Perhaps I am simply unaware of the sluggish quality of my heart, the slowness at which it moves compared to the speed of others. His heart seemed so footloose, so fancy free. So… chivalrous and unexpected. This moment is the first moment I think I can see clearly the nature of his parting. The beach is quiet as I realize that it was always me who could not love myself. And it was me who could not see the vastness of my own spirit. But perhaps the vastness was there all along. A smile creeps over my lips. I take a huge bite of fresh blueberry cheesecake.

Tabby’s Entry:

Why does a day spent at home, doing nothing in particular, feel so much more sluggish compared to other activities done away from home… say shopping, or perhaps a trip to the beach? It seems as if time is an ever changing instrument used by some unknown power to directly effect everything around me. When I want time to go faster, it laughs and refuses. When I’d like for it to go slower, to enjoy more of the life around me, it rushes by, faster than wind, whispering to me with sounds that resemble the childish taunt, “You can’t get me!”

Somewhere from upstairs I hear the distant tunes of something similar to the old song, “footloose” and something in me seems to stir, recognizing an anachronism from a distant past sliding gently through the poorly insulated walls with a certain rustic tenderness and politeness, so as not to stir too much in my mind. My fight with time begins to fade as my mind turns to the rumble in my belly. Food would be good. A piece of cheesecake appears in some external thought-bubble that I imagine exists. Delicious as though it may seem, I push it aside to find a better alternative. For the time, I leave my prism of thoughts for a basic survival need. This only lasts for three seconds, as I begin to analyze why cheesecake felt so survival based at the time. Three seconds, however, can sometimes last an eternity… especially when one is hungry.

How to make…

July 5, 2008

Write a poem that is a recipe for something: making a perfect woman/man, making despair, making a stone, making bad weather, making a home. Try to include unexpected ‘ingredients,’ like the stubbed toe that makes a terrible day all the worse. Think about how each element/ingredient will affect the others.

Have fun with the language of recipes — or be as serious as your subject demands. Allow yourself to expand from the recipe format as needed, to include warnings, descriptions of method, alternatives, and methods of using/consuming/admiring the end product.

Tabby’s Entry:

Recipe for Making a Mountain out of a Molehill
1 part molehill
1000 parts filler dirt
1000 parts filler junk
10000 part emotional fortitude
10 parts logic

Take your molehill and dig a hole into the middle and throw the 10 parts of logic into the hole. Quickly mix it with the emotional fortitude, adding in dirt and junk as desired. Mix fast to be sure to leave bumps and a fairly inconsistent mixture. Continue adding dirt and junk until the molehill has grown to a sufficient size, large enough to tumble down while walking towards the peak. At the peak, use up the rest of your emotional fortitude with a loud shout, making sure to expend the rest of your energy alerting everyone of your newly built mountain.

Kristin’s Entry:

Making my Perfect Day. (Good days have few ingredients.)

A large soaking of sunshine
Moderate temperatures* for 24 hours
The smell of autumn
Plenty of brightly colored leaves.
A sweaty yoga class in the morning
2 scoops of Matcha
A spoonful of loose lemongrass tea
Hot water
½ Tablespoon of honey
Laughter. Preferably, uncontrollable laughter.

Combine the sunshine with the temperatures to create a very cozy atmosphere that is slightly crisp so you can wear a sweater. The smell of autumn is simply there to inspire a certain feeling, which reminds of fireplaces and Thanksgiving. Combine the wind with the leaves to create turbulent and elegant swirls of color barreling down the street. The yoga is to be utilized to tie the body and the mind together, kinda like egg whites. Combine the matcha, lemongrass, water and honey to create a nummy tea. Laughter to build music. And companions to build humanness.

Ariella’s Entry:

How to make the perfect road-trip:

One car that seats 6. Might make funny noises after driving for a while.
Sunshine that hits the road and our front window while our eyes expand to new landscape.
Good friends and laughter. Lots of laughter.
Ripe green, bright beet red flowers that wave at us from beside the passing highway.
Fruit stands and late-night gas stations where locals meet and we stop to pee and buy peach fuzzies.
A map that’s missing some of the important pages.
Coffee. Lots of coffee!
A tin full of chunky cookies someone made this morning.
A heart full of open road.

Mix all of the above and enjoy! It comes out different every time.

Writing Exercise: Complexity in simple things

July 3, 2008

(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.

7 More Words! (Original Title)

July 2, 2008

Use all of the following seven words to construct a poem, short story, or prose:
duck, doctor, bell, alien, cheeto, cape, fan

Kristin’s Entry:

The Doctor strides out of my room, she moves with a certainty I equate to purpose. The pain in my left hip is still very intense and, to be honest, very alien to me. Which is probably why when it flares up my impulse is to automatically ring the bell that is conveniently placed beside my right hand. More precisely, next to the stuffed Donald Duck, that my little sister shoved nearby to keep me company. I have often wondered during my stay here who would think to make a Donald Duck dressed up as Batman, cape and all. It’s odd, the whole fictional character referencing another fictional character, as though the first fictional character was actually NOT a fictional character. Not really a fan. Anyway, I guess that my inexperience with pain is why I rang that bell in the first place. Which called to the Doctor, who has looked at me everyday and, in my opinion, decided that my REAL illness is impulsive-bell-ringing. She has decided to leave a single Cheeto on my bedside table every time I ring the bell and there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I think she considers this punishment, primarily because I detest the smell of faux cheese. Needless to say, there is now a pile of Cheetoes on my bedside table. Just out of reach of course.

Tabby’s Entry:

An empty pool stands, supporting a solemn rubber duck
A bell rings in the distance as a doctor makes his way to the rubble, his coat flowing behind like a cape
In the house, a fan whirls, blowing one cheeto after another to the ground
I look onward into chaos, feeling alien to myself… my world has changed and reality stands beside me

Leave your entries in the comments below!