Friday, April 22, 2016

Stanza Sprints:
The Benefits of High Speed Poetry
(Are There Any?)

      According to Read. Write. Think., writing at high speeds

  •  Helps to overcome the “blank page” problem 
  • Warms up the brain for higher-level functioning
  •  Can increase fluency if done regularly 
  • Strengthens the right brain 
  • Can help increase motivation 

    Or it can simply help you get caught up on your poem a day commitment for the month of April. Let's give it a go and see, but I have to add that for me the "blank page" problem is solved by 

a. never writing until you don't know what happens next. Always leave enough in reserve so that your subconscious can be working on your story while you're doing more important things like grading papers, caring for your children, hiring a new colleague in your department, teaching, and fighting bronchitis--or maybe that's just my to do list that never got fully done this week.

b. realizing that creativity is the recombination of known facts in unusual order, so to write new things you have to learn new things and ask questions of them.  Keep your mind open and asking --what exactly does "Truth will out" mean and where did that phrase become famous? How could you describe the texture of a wasp's nest?

Now on to the stanza sprints.  I'll attempt to write one stanza poems at high speeds.  Let's try 120 seconds.  Here comes the rubbish!!

(18 of 30)

Wind carries rumors of storms
languishing over mountains
shaking houses
liking the rattle of windows
of the days when only 
centurion trees 
held sway over the prairies
no one feared 
thunder then
1:26 (86 seconds)

But this speed stanza screams for commas!

Dare I ask, can I top that? 

(19 of 30)

catching up to the laughter
chasing it 'round the
rumor that 
children's laughter 
fuels the soul

(59 seconds) Phew!

Ha! And again. Wow, this is nerve wracking!

(20 of 30)

not the echo
of greek goods
but the refrain 
right now
dog by the door
child on the edge of the bed
husband defying
if I have the power 
to stop it*
but my godly skills faded
sixty sleepless nights ago
(1:52  or 112 seconds )

I made it to the * by 59, but that didn't complete the stanza/poem. Who am I kidding, the poems I've been doing this month are mere wisps of drafts, not poems. But a poem can start anywhere.

(21 of 30)


With a bead of 
water on a newly stained
the crooked neck
hang of a leaf
the way a swing 
growns as a child launches
for the ground
the emptiness
of energy released
to be captured in a line
an image
a stanza stretched
to show 
the poem
that begins
like this
(1.28 or 78 sec)

Last chance to beat the clock-- 59 seconds!!

The pound 
of dog eyes pinning
your heart
touch my head
scratch here
can I come home now?
(36 seconds)

 But is it a poem? Why don't you tell me.


  1. Stanza sprints - interesting. Poems if you say so...
    You do have a way with words and to be able to come up with those little sprints in those short seconds is just amazing.

  2. Marian,
    Thank you so much for commenting. I would suggest that these are mere drafts of poems I wrote for the exercise and that they might one day evolve into poems with much more work.

    Using speed to push yourself to produce is a great way to teach yourself to create quickly and it improves your ability to come up with wonderful word play.

    Thank you for your feedback!
    A LaFaye