Accountability With Writing and Art

Last week I challenged myself to come up with ten first lines of a sonnet, which traditionally contains fourteen lines of ten syllables and five beats each.

And so I did do a bit of writing this week– I made this challenge public to nudge myself and maybe others to stop thinking about writing or not writing and to simply write. My inner Yoda prodded me to get my creative mind back in gear.

Not all of the lines below contain ten syllables, and probably not even one of them is iambic pentameter, but if anyone would like to use one of these to write their own poem, I leave it to you to revise and make it suit your purposes.

For more inspiration, as well as a reminder that you can forget prosody and meter, I suggest you check out “Notes on Walking Poetry” by Dave Bonta, who says, “To hell with the metrical foot. Free your verse and your mind will follow… at a walker’s pace.”

Ten Eleven First Lines

Some of these are found texts that I pieced together, others come from old diary entries.

  • O love! O chaos! O wind in the trees!
  • The instability of honey bees
  • I snatched a snippet of joy on the fly
  • A harsh light seeking some pallid shape
  • I opened my eyes to a blur of leaves
  • A ghost in the barely breathing silence
  • Walking through a cloud–droplets beaded my black wool
  • Today, I painted a tropical bird
  • I cried in the parking lot, my friend as witness
  • A family of deer stepped along a creek bed
  • Thunder shook the rain loose and then it cleared

If you decide to use one of these lines above, please let me know! Feel free to share in the comments section, or leave one of your own lines here and we can write a collaborative poem. If you drop me a line, I’ll respond in kind.

Mythical bird from my sketchbook, maybe a god of air

Read about Karen Head's collaborative digital poetry project

Poet and editor Sam Rasnake has published Karen Head’s poetry project at his online poetry and art journal, Blue Fifth Review. Read the exquisite corpse poem, “Monumental,” which she directed from her perch atop the Fourth Plinth on Trafalgar Square in London. She also includes process notes about how she views art and collaboration.

I played a very small role in the project by writing one of the lines in the exquisite corpse poem. Even still, it was exciting to share in this digital experience. Although we each could hear Karen talking and see her in real time via the web cam, we communicated to her through twitter, sending her our lines after she wrote to tell us who was next. By the end of the hour, my T-shirt was damp with sweat, and I only had one line to write!