|The OLJ Poetry Form Challenge #8: Word Gardens|
challenge 8: word gardens
Today’s challenge is to create, and write a poem “grown” from, word gardens.
A word garden is just as much about the seeds as the flowers. It’s a form based on the idea of gardening, but rather than harvesting the flowers that bloom from the seeds our first focus is on harvesting the seeds that we will then harvest into flowers. A word garden is created simply by gathering words—our “seeds”—based primarily on personal preferences. For example, while flipping through any given book, you’ll come across a few words on the page that you just love, whether it’s the “return” of a return policy or the “dessert,” “chocolate,” and “lava” of the sentence “In the land of dessert, chocolate lava crunch cakes are king” (found on the side of a Domino’s pizza box). As you find these words, jot them down, and store them in a container. These will be become the seeds for a poem. Somewhere down the line you’ll select a handful of seeds to sow, and watch your poetic garden grow! (For the full guidelines on creating a word garden and writing a word garden poem, check out this post.)
Playing with word gardens in writing a poem is a fun but tricky venture, simply because you’re never quite sure what your garden will cultivate. One day you may reap a harvest of food words: sugar spices marinate dice. The next you may find yourself immersed in the language of business: portfolio leave ability tenure. When you pluck words for a poem, what happens when you discover you’ve pulled twenty food words and five business terms? You might wind up with a reference to “sweetly marinated tenure.”
Spend some time today creating a jarred word garden. Grab a jar, bowl, hat, or envelope and begin filling it with words. Write each word on a separate slip of paper. Keep slips with you throughout the day and add new words to your receptacle as often as possible. A few hours, or even days, after you fill your container (aim to gather at least 100 words: that way you have plenty to play with), blindly pick 10-25 words (or, if you tend to cheat, have a friend pick them for you). Use those words to write a poem.
Back in June of 2012 I shared one of my favorite word garden poems, titled "Past is Present." Check it out for an example of how word seeds can come together in both unexpected and unexpected ways.
Don’t forget to share your attempt (in the comments below or via email) for a chance to be this week’s featured poet. And as always, have fun!
Want to stay connected? I invite you to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Please also sign up for the free email updates from Our Lost Jungle!
Want to be the first to know about upcoming Jungle happenings? Sign up for the Our Lost Jungle Newsletter for updates, contest alerts, and more! Sign up here, or use the link at the top of the right column!