“All poetry is thievery”

Hi everyone,

I’ve been thinking that I might have a cool idea for a poetry exercise.  Obviously a lot of our class time has revolved around looking at each other’s work, and regardless of the extent to which it is finished, I am continuously inspired by all of your poetry in workshop.  I often will come across pieces I really love in workshop that I sink my teeth into, start changing things around, leave ideas for ways to expand images, etc.  So I was thinking… what if we actually did this to each other’s work?  My idea is to exchange drafts with a partner, and with the draft you receive, revise it into a poem totally your own.  Change line breaks, punctuation, stanza formatting; add/remove images as much as your heart desires.  And then go back, comparing your peer’s poem with the one you reinvented.  I’m not sure if any of you guys think this would be interesting, but I’d definitely be down to try it.  We all have such different voices as poets that it might be really cool to see what happens when we take a poem written in our own voice and pass it to someone who will give it a completely different voice, and vice versa.  Let me know what you think!


2 Replies to ““All poetry is thievery””

  1. Love it! And love the title.

    Would you go so far as to limit the number of words that can remain from the original? So that all poetry is thievery followed by a cover-up job? I’m thinking of, spoiler alert, the remake of the Thomas Crown Affair…

  2. Ashley,

    I absolutely love this idea! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been inspired by the writing I’ve come across in workshop. To be honest, I’ve already stolen from workshop poems (not actually). I have written poems based on images I loved that I came across in workshop; I’ve tried to mimic others’ styles and techniques; I’ve even tried writing a shape poem after being inspired by Juliana’s tiger woman poem. I like the idea of really going all out with the thievery, though. I think we could all really benefit from this exercise, as well. Let’s do it!

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