This prompt has three steps. But the “point” of this assignment is to get you thinking and listening like

This prompt has three steps. But the “point” of this assignment is to get you thinking and listening like a poet to your own poems. The other, equally important goal is to write the best poem in blank-verse that you can. So please feel free to vary any of these steps to suit your own practice–with the exception, that is, of my requirement that you are descriiptive, and that you avoid abstractions and cliches. Here are your steps:

1) Spend a few minutes writing a prose account of an anecdote you often share at dinner parties, a story from the news you can’t forget, an episode of family history, or a dream that’s been troubling you. Be descriiptive. Try not to use too much abstract language (“love,” “enemy,” “justice,” “poverty,” “illness”).

2) Using some of the language from your prose account, recast your anecdote, news story, episode of family history, or dream into at least ten lines of blank verse—the more lines, the better. Keep your meter very regular—with no more than one substitution per line. As you write, leave some space between each line—If you’re using lined paper, double-space.

3) Reread your blank-verse draft, circling the language and images you find most compelling. (Don’t circle abstract language or moments in which you’re telling rather than showing.) Take a few minutes to write a new blank-verse draft that either condenses and consolidates these interesting moments into a single passage or focuses on one such moment by expanding it into seven to ten new lines. In this draft, I want you to pay close attention to crafting concrete, and specific images, as well as concentrating on the meter. This poem should be at least fourteen lines long.

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