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“new to you” poetry gong, day 1

October 13, 2010

At Big Tent Poetry we have started our first poetry gong (a multiple-day writing challenge). The idea is to write a poem each day, being kind to your muse even if he drops a load of crap on your mat. The idea is to get a batch of new drafts. The idea is to jumpstart your creativity with other poets who are just as crazy as you are.

Our theme for this one is “new to you.” Read a poet you you have never read or a poem you have never read and allow that poet/poem to inspire your writing.

Never the sharpest crayon in the box, I am just discovering our current poet laureate W.S. Merwin. In my own writing, I often try to achieve a stop and start pace, a sense that things run into each other when they aren’t supposed to, line breaks that are a little (or a lot) uncomfortable. Though I nail it sometimes, I most usually fall on my face. It seems to me that Merwin does all those things masterfully, and I will be studying him more.

For now, all you need to know is that he uses punctuation very sparingly and that he has a poem “The way to the river,” which I think is about impermanence and acceptance, and that in the poem he repeats several times “be here.” There is a harsh reality to the poem: “they are building the empty/ ages,” there are “bandage vendors” and the children pretend they are “broken glass.”

I decided to start my poem with the same “The way to the (blank),” and I decided to mix up concrete landmarks with abstract ones like he did. And then, with apologies for doing a so-so job, tried also to repeat the theme (mine is about need), abandon punctuation (mostly) and mess around with how things run together or stand alone.

Here it is. Don’t blame Merwin. It isn’t his fault! (Go see who else is playing along and what they are writing!)


  1. October 13, 2010 11:09 am

    I am usually very brave with posting drafts, but this one feels scary. Is it because it stretches rules I was living by? Hmmmmm.

  2. October 13, 2010 1:09 pm

    I haven’t read Merwin but I like this very much!

  3. October 13, 2010 2:20 pm

    this rocks, sister. another poem very unlike my usual sherwood (you’re playing in the big leagues w/merwin, have to call you by your last name!). i like the line breaks, they add an unusual and interesting added layer to the piece.

    • October 14, 2010 7:19 am

      thanks! i made some changes to it this morning (not here at the blog but on paper) based on the test run at last night’s open mic, and i’m bringing it to feedback group tomorrow.

  4. October 15, 2010 8:28 am

    I usualy have difficulty with this kind of free-wheeling poetry, but this is different: I read it through in a one-r and understood what you were on about! If this is a draft, it is a very polished one.
    One more one more – that appealed to the greed in me!

  5. October 15, 2010 9:13 am

    your poetry and collages…oh my gosh, the collages are amazing!!!!! I heart your blog! 🙂 would you PLEEEEEASE consider joining my art site??? PLEASE!!! lol! You would make a great addition to our little community!!! 🙂 OR you can check out my blog and the “Creative Playground” tab to learn more before you join, if ya want? 🙂 please consider!!!! *hugs*


  1. oh, that girl can ramble « carolee sherwood

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