Today’s prompt (optional, as always) is a variation on a teaching exercise that the poet Anne Boyer uses with students studying the work of Emily Dickinson. As you may know, although Dickinson is now considered one of the most original and finest poets the United States has produced, she was not recognized in her own time. One reason her poems took a while to gain a favorable reception is their slippery, dash-filled lines. Those dashes baffled her readers so much that the 1924 edition of her complete poems replaced some with commas, and did away with others completely. Today’s exercise asks you to do something similar, but in the interests of creativity, rather than ill-conceived “correction.” Find an Emily Dickinson poem – preferably one you’ve never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it!
I chose this one for the excercise: A poem by Emily Dickinson
Dare I Presume?
A fairer place, for me
A house – numerous windows,
Superior doors opening to
Chambers of impregnable – Cedars –
The roof is boundary free
My hands – Splay out the carpet
Optimum Visitors, welcoming, – to
Pass time in This – pursuing paradise