Junk Drawer Song:
A Four-Step Writing Instruction
Prompt Against Anxiety #18 | from Toronto-based poet Hoa Nguyen. She is the author of As Long As Trees Last, Red Juice, Violet Energy Ingots, and A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, forthcoming from Wave Books in April 2021.
Find an unstructured frame of mind for this writing, a fieldwork moment that invites you to map new connections of meaning and sound.
Allow your writing to be a construction, with repetition and reference loosely arranged. Invite play in your associations; seek new perspectives of image and sound. Don’t rush to linked meaning or therefore conclusions. Remain curious as you record in your notebook.
What you need
Select a song with which you have some familiarity and that carries personal resonance. Listen to a recording of the song and take notes. Where is the song in your body? Let the song take you somewhere in response, catch and connect to the lyrics, invite alternate words and mis-hearings, link the song to impressions and sensation and to atmospheres of texture and image.
Don’t worry about making “sense." Write for ten minutes and then set this writing aside.
Move among the collections.
On a new page, write in response to your chosen collection of objects. Allow your writing to move freely and bounce around the associated/disassociated objects there. Connect with description, perception, and memory.
Write for as long as you care to and proceed to the next improvisation.
Conjoin the writings musically.
Bring your writings together. Float between the language there. What do they communicate to each other? What collects in a newly shared space?
Write a third piece drawing upon both writings. Write into the shared space to create a melodic cohesion of sense and sound. Consider sound as a unifying structure. Introduce at least three forms of repetition, play with variations of phrase or word.
Name your poem: give your new writing a title. Name it after an aspect of the song and/or a ‘junk drawer’ item.
More from this series
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Prepared StatementPrompt #30—Mike Hauser
Repeat Repeat WritePrompt #29— Lewis Freedman
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EKPHRASIS YOURSELFPrompt #27—Jennifer Nelson
POETRY IS FOR THE PEOPLEPrompt #26—Angela Trudell Vasquez
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Ponge ExercisePrompt #20—Tyrone Williams
Occult DocupoesisPrompt #19—Kimberly Alidio
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TALK TO THE POETSPrompt #17—Stacy Szymaszek
Make-Do Origin Stories & Concrete FuturesPrompt #16—Ching-In Chen
The Family PhotographPrompt #15—Rosa Alcalá
Writing Advice for Your Younger SelfPrompt #14—E.J. Koh
Note(s) to SelfPrompt #13—Stacy Blint
Embracing ConfusionPrompt #12—Bryon Cherry
Writing/Playing the ArchivePrompt #11—Jay Besemer
CAPTURED & FREEDPrompt #10—Dasha Kelly Hamilton
Poetic Exit StrategiesPrompt #9—Ana Božičević
Proyecto ConbífPrompt #8—Erick "CK" Ledesma
TRILOGYPrompt #6—CA Conrad
Utopian CompromisePrompt #7—Paul Druecke
A Series of RoomsPrompt #5—Laura Solomon
Two Variations on N+7Prompt #4—Jenny Gropp
T H E A P A R T / TOGETHERPOEMPrompt #3—Margaret Rozga
An Exercise in WindowsPrompt #2—Marla Sanvick
Erasuring AnxietyPrompt #1—Peter Burzynski
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