Where do you think you’re going?
Your smile has many teeth.
Who do you think I look like?
He wondered if he would ever make it home.
How could you do that to me?
I hide my frown in my drink, but no-one notices.
What month were you born?
The sun is hot and my skin sighs.
Why did she wave to him?
The smudge of fingerprints on glass.
What’s your favourite type of weather?
The shadows on the ceiling look like owls’ eyes.
What kind of animal do you like best?
Blue stars twinkle in the vase.
Are we nearly there yet?
I am in love with someone, but I do not know what will happen.
An hour passed,
but which way?
‘Which Way?’ is a group poem written by Sarah, Jen and Mark from one of the writing groups I belong to. Usually in this group we write fiction or non-fiction, but this month, we decided to try something different. The exercise was based on one I did with Bill Manhire when he stood in for Greg O’Brien once, in a poetry workshop I attended. The idea is for each member of the group to write a couple of questions and a couple of statements on separate pieces of paper, after which the questions and answers are matched at random. I stuffed up the order a bit when I was assembling our poem, which is why it ends in a question. But I think that works.
Exercises like this can be a great way to get the ideas flowing. By juxtaposing things which weren’t originally intended to be together, you can find some unexpected connections and tangents to follow.
(People familiar with Bill Manhire’s poetry may notice that the horse in the photograph is naked.)