Last week, Slicer Christie Wyman of Wondering and Wandering realized she was writing about a topic she’d written about last year. (Another nor’easter; my New England friends don’t even want to think about the new one brewing for next week!) Christie wondered, “do you have a slice from last year’s SOLC you could revisit because some things never change? Or maybe because they have!”
I had already been considering revisiting an exercise from Karen Benke’s Rip the Page: Adventures in Creative Writing. (Read another post inspired by this book here.) Here’s the explanation of “Juxtaposition” (found on page 56) from last year’s post:
This exercise begins by folding a piece of paper in half lengthwise, then choosing ten words from one of the many word lists in the book. Next, add a descriptive word in front of each of the chosen words. Turn the paper over and follow the directions for what to write next. When you unfold the paper, write “Poetry Is” at the top. Try various combinations from the assortment of words and phrases you wrote until you find a “juxtaposition…two unlike things (side by side) to wake up your ears and make your mouth smile.”
In response to last year’s post I wrote, Some of these pairings aren’t really a surprise, but I liked the images they conjured.
I did not reread the last year’s poem before starting this year, but some images appeared again anyway. I guess those words and ideas are deeply ingrained in me. Last year’s poem is structured differently from this year’s poem, and I think I like it a little better, but this year’s poem created some images that deserve a poem of their own.
In gentle rains of summers past
In rippling, whispering waves
In the soft peaks of a lemon meringue pie
under the slow drift of pale sunshine
inside the molten silver of Wednesdays
behind the secret of cerulean blue
inside a cosmic whirl of serenity
in the full moon of my imagination
within the quickening spark of my heart.
© Catherine Flynn, 2018
This activity is exactly what Benke’s subtitle promises: an adventure in creative writing. Students love it for many reasons. Some of the combinations turn out to be very funny. It also provides a structure that reluctant writers find comforting and supportive. Confident writers will appreciate the flexibility they have to play with the format of their poem. The possibilities are endless!
Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.