Archives for posts with tag: Creativity

NOTE: Yesterday, we blogged about the Magnetic Poetry Kit and included a link where you could create a magnetic poem online. We also asked people to send us their magnetic poems so we could feature them on our blog. Alicia Austen rose to the occasion and is the first to forward her Magnetic Poetry Kit poem. Thank you Alicia!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alicia Austen is a writer, editor, and rebel-creative. She currently resides in the Queen City (aka Cincinnati), where she can usually be found drinking tea, listening to punk rock, and reading out-of-print books. Visit her blog at

The makers of the original Magnetic Poetry Kit present Beat Poet, a magnetic poetry kit with over 200 hep cat word magnets. This box of words really zings, daddy-o, and celebrates one of America’s best known literary movements. The kit includes words like jazz, generation, road, bohemian, freedom . . . and many more! Find a complete list of words here. Kit contains over 200 themed magnetic word tiles — all for just $11.95. To order, visit To create a poem online from the original kit, visit this link. If you do, please send a copy to

by Mike Keith

Through sentient, gauzy flame I view life’s dread,
quixotic, partial joke. We’re vapour-born,
by logic and emotion seen as dead.

Plain cording weds great luxury ornate,
while moon-beams rise to die in Jove’s quick day;
I navigate the puzzle-board of fate.

Wait! Squeeze one hundred labels into jibes,
grip clay and ink to form your topic — rage;
await the vexing mandate of our lives.

I rush on, firm, to raid my aged tools,
but yet I touch an eerie, vain, blank piece,
as oxide grown among life’s quartz-paved jewels.

Once zealous Bartlebooth, a timid knave,
portrayed grief’s calm upon a jigsaw round;
yet now he lies, fixed quiet in his grave.

Just so we daily beam our pain-vexed soul
with fiery craze to aim large, broken core
and quest in vain to find the gaping hole.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Keith is a freelance software engineer and writer of constrained prose and poetry, in which a literary composition is required to satisfy one or more lexical rules. He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including several works of constrained writing, Not a Wake and The Anagrammed Bible. For more news and writings, visit


Each tercet (three lines of iambic pentameter with ABA rhyme scheme) in the poem above is formed from the set of 100 Scrabble® tiles, which consist of 98 letters (including all letters A-Z) plus two blank “wildcards” that can be assigned any letter. The poem is visually depicted using six sets of Scrabble® tiles, where the two blanks in each set are indicated by red tiles. In this challenge, we deem it quite permissable to use different letters for the blanks in each separate set of tiles (each stanza).

In this depiction, each line of iambic pentameter is split in two in order to keep the page from being too wide. In other words, the first line of the poem is really “Through sentient, gauzy flame I view life’s dread.”

Who is “Bartlebooth”, you might ask? Ah, this strikes at the very core of the poem. Bartlebooth is the jigsaw-puzzling main character of Georges Perec‘s massive constrained novel La Vie Mode d’Emploi (Life: A User’s Manual). Perec’s novel consists of 100 chapters with one blank (missing), modeled after a Paris apartment building with 100 rooms. The theme of missing things constantly reappears (e.g., Bartlebooth dies as the puzzle he is working on has a single piece-shaped hole).

Scrabble® has 100 tiles with two blanks, an almost exact replica of the structure of Perec’s novel. Hence, the desire to allude to La Vie in stanzas 4 (“blank piece”), 5 (Bartlebooth and his puzzles), and 6 (“gaping hole”). “Puzzle-board” of stanza two is also a reference — to the 10×10 knight’s tour involved in Perec’s work.

the muse may
by J.I. Kleinberg

the muse
may be hard
the first
The next


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J.I. Kleinberg works and plays with words and blogs most days at She is co-author of the book Fat Stupid Ugly: One Woman’s Courage to Survive and her writing has been included in Anatomy & Etymology, Cirque, Feathertale, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Northwind, Raven Chronicles, Switched-on Gutenberg, Truck, Uttered Chaos, and elsewhere. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, and doesn’t own a television.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “the muse may” is one of a series of found poems, now numbering more than 575, that use chunks of text from magazines, excised and recombined into a new syntax. In capturing the words for these poems, my mandate is to reveal the meaning that was not intended, to discover the phrases and poetry created by the accident of typography. They occupy a slender landscape between Dada and Twitter, between ransom note and haiku.

Did you ever purchase a used book and find that it included some underlined passages? This used to annoy me — until today, when I was looking for inspiration and picked up Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I flipped open the book to page 41 and found an underlined passage that read like a poem (maybe I was just in the right mood). Here it is:

An underlined passage from Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (Delta, 1963), page 41

The more truth
we have to work with,
the richer we become.

NOTE: If you’ve found a poem in an underlined passage from a book, send it to, along with the publisher, copyright date, and page number, and a one-paragraph bio, and we may feature it on our blog.

Image“The good days, the fat days, page upon page of manuscript; prosperous days, something to say…the pages mounted and I was happy. Fabulous days, the rent paid, still fifty dollars in my wallet, nothing to do all day and night but write and think of writing; ah, such sweet days, to see it grow, to worry for it, myself, my book, my words, maybe important, maybe timeless, but mine nevertheless, the indomitable Arturo Bandini, already deep into his first novel. “

From Chapter Sixteen of Ask the Dust a novel by John Fante, originally published in 1939.


“Considering the ways in which so many of us waste our time, what would be wrong with a world in which everybody were writing poems? After all, there’s a significant service to humanity in spending time doing no harm. While you’re writing your poem, there’s one less scoundrel in the world. And I’d like a world, wouldn’t you, in which people actually took time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m certain, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets. By writing poetry, even those poems that fail and fail miserably, we honor and affirm life. We say ‘We loved the earth but could not stay.’”  TED KOOSER, The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ted Kooser was the United States Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006 and won a Pulitzer Prize for his book of poems Delights and Shadows. He is the author of twelve full-length volumes of poetry and several books of nonfiction, and his work has appeared in many periodicals. He lives in Garland, Nebraska.

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser is available at

The Spring 1958 issue of the Paris Review included an interviewGeorge Plimpton conducted with Ernest Hemingway at the author’s home outside Havana, Cuba. Hemingway invited Plimpton into his inner sanctum–his writing room–and allowed the interviewer to observe his writing methods. Here are some of Plimpton’s observations:

…on the top of one of these cluttered bookcases—the one against the wall by the east window and three feet or so from his bed…Hemingway has his “work desk”—a square foot of cramped area hemmed in by books on one side and on the other by a newspaper-covered heap of papers, manuscripts, and pamphlets. There is just enough space left on top of the bookcase for a typewriter, surmounted by a wooden reading board, five or six pencils, and a chunk of copper ore to weight down papers when the wind blows in from the east window.

A working habit he has had from the beginning, Hemingway stands when he writes. He stands in a pair of his oversized loafers on the worn skin of a lesser kudu—the typewriter and the reading board chest-high opposite him.

When Hemingway starts on a project he always begins with a pencil, using the reading board to write on onionskin typewriter paper. He keeps a sheaf of the blank paper on a clipboard to the left of the typewriter, extracting the paper a sheet at a time from under a metal clip that reads “These Must Be Paid.” He places the paper slantwise on the reading board, leans against the board with his left arm, steadying the paper with his hand, and fills the paper with handwriting which through the years has become larger, more boyish, with a paucity of punctuation, very few capitals, and often the period marked with an X. The page completed, he clips it facedown on another clipboard that he places off to the right of the typewriter.

Hemingway shifts to the typewriter, lifting off the reading board, only when the writing is going fast and well, or when the writing is, for him at least, simple: dialogue, for instance.

He keeps track of his daily progress—“so as not to kid myself”—on a large chart made out of the side of a cardboard packing case and set up against the wall under the nose of a mounted gazelle head. The numbers on the chart showing the daily output of words differ from 450, 575, 462, 1250, back to 512, the higher figures on days Hemingway puts in extra work so he won’t feel guilty spending the following day fishing on the Gulf Stream.

Read “Ernest Hemingway: The Art of Fiction” at the Paris Review.

by Barbara Eknoian
(based on a passage from Chapter 7 in The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy)

those grand museums,
libraries, plays, concerts
beckoned me with promises.
When I couldn’t sleep,
when the noise of traffic rose up,
I tried to jog to Brooklyn,
but only made it to the Bowery,
where I stepped over bums
who slept in vestibules of lamp shops.
And, in the darkness, surprised myself
by entering the flower district,
trucks unloading  fragrant cargoes
of orchids,  lilies and roses.
At its best, New York,
a city of accidental epiphanies.


The Art of Fiction (Excerpt)
by John Gardner

In the writing state—the state of inspiration—the fictive dream springs up fully alive: the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols.

The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it, so that when the dream flags he can reread what he’s written and find the dream starting up again.

This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things—sees them clearly—and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid…

The Art of Fiction is available at