When I was younger, I always wanted a set of magnet poetry so I could write something cute (but most likely just silly) on the fridge. For some reason or another, I never thought about asking for it. No one in my family writes poetry and none of them read it. The fridge is a shared space and although my report cards and little kid artwork went up on the fridge, asking for magnet poetry was unfathomable. Then I went to college and my roommate had a fun set of “college-themed” ones. We used it on our white board outside of our rooms and we would always come back to something new.
Usually we would start out with just a short phrase: “I ate pizza for dinner” (so college, am I right?). Then after returning back from class, someone would add on “naked” to the end of the phrase or add on a whole other line. They could switch out words and put in new ones anonymously. Sometimes the original phrase would change to something different by the end.
Having a college themed edition of magnet poetry was pretty fun though. And I think living in a dorm specifically catered to writers really helped this whole collectivist poetry thing. But I will say that most of the revisions usually involved some type of sexual act by the end. It was all harmless, freshman year fun.
But this collectivist act made me think about how great writing (or at least revision) comes from living and working in an environment with others who have a shared vision. Writers like to think about how writing is such an individual act but I find that having a pantheon of voices in workshop or outside of it can really help shape something great. It can help you take your work in a direction you haven’t thought of (but by that same vein, sometimes others can completely change your original vision which is frustrating: “I ate pizza for dinner” soon changes to “They drank pizza beer at the naked party”) or reaffirm your choices. Regardless of magnetic poetry being a metaphor for workshop or revision, it’s still really fun to use. I wish I would have used it sooner.