So, you’re probably asking me: all these exercises generating and working spontaneously off of first lines, what practical application does that have?
I’m glad you asked!
For one thing, Tupelo Press is having a contest where you must select a line from Anne Marie Rooney’s poem: Last Evening: Index of first lines, which is, of course, a poem made up of first lines (you can find the poem on the contest page). The first lines don’t look familiar to me, so I’m not sure if she “borrowed” them from other people’s poetry, or her own discarded ones.
There are no rules other than you must use one of the lines from her first lines poem as your first line. It’s $15 to enter up to 3 poems.
Part of my own workout this weekend is going to be riffing off of 6 of her first lines and then picking my 3 favourite to edit for the contest (deadline June 30). The lines I’ve picked are:
All night the golden people put golden things up their golden
Could I become a comet? That frozen flying
I stole another woman’s only scarf
It was the wing of sweat that finally opened me, fretless and late
Tongue rank with another beginner angel
What he kissed in me was no meteor or shining pardon
Inspired by Rooney’s poem of first lines… I decided to make that this weekend’s official writing workout.
Taking either prose or poetry, your own or others’, create your own “index of first lines” poem.