Poem Spark Nov. 13-20 – the Cento

Greetings fellow poets!

Some days when you wake up, it’s raining and you’re out of coffee (or tea, in my case). Sometimes the alarm doesn’t go off and you dash into your car a half-hour late. By the time you return home, you’re wet, hungry, and you have a wicked headache from caffeine deprivation. This is the kind of day when writing anything seems impossible. This is a cento day.

According to Poets.org, the definition of a cento is:

From the Latin word for “patchwork,” the cento is a poetic form made up of lines from poems by other poets. Though poets often borrow lines from other writers and mix them in with their own, a true cento is composed entirely of lines from other sources. Early examples can be found in the work of Homer and Virgil.

For the complete page on centos, go here: Poetic Form: Cento.

So, since the forecast here is calling for rain at least through Thursday, it looks like tomorrow and the day after will be a cento day, too. Your poem spark mission for this week: write a cento. Don’t stress-out. Feel free to mix up the lines with some of your own. Feel free to use just the end-of-line words from another poem for yours. Feel free to use just a title. It’s difficult to light a candle in the rain, but with the right spark, anything is possible.

If you’re looking for poems to steal (uh, I mean borrow) from, here are a few favorites:

Eleanor Wilner Moon Gathering

Anzhelina Polonskaya Sky

Stanley Kunitz The Portrait

Jane Hirshfield A Hand