Poetry Activity: Cento (Patchwork) Poem

Check out Write Shop for more on Cento poems

The Cento is one of the easiest poems to create because it is a collage of poetic lines from other poets’ poems.

According to the Academy of American Poets, John Asbury’s “The Dong with the Luminous Nose” and Peter Gizzi’s “Ode: Salute to the New York School” are two of the most famous Cento poems.

Please feel free to check out other examples, here.

For our cento, I’d love for everyone to take a look at my starting line and add their own (please identify the poem and poet):

How dreary – to be – Somebody! (Emily Dickinson, “I’m Nobody! Who are you? – 260)

Add your lines in the comments and I’ll post the full cento at month’s end.

Poem Activity: Cento Poem

Hello again. We’re all staying home and safe these days, grateful for essential workers, and looking to make it through financially, mentally, and physically now.

For today’s activity, which won’t take much brain power, we’re going to make a cento poem. Cento poems are patchworks created from various lines taken from different poems.

There’s a really interesting spin on this in which a poem is constructed from emails, check that out here.

I’ll begin today’s patchwork poem with this Emily Dickinson line from poem 561 (I measure every Grief I meet):

I wonder if it hurts to live –

Please add your poetic line and let me know which poem and poet it is from in the comments.

Create a Cento

Today, we’re all going to create a cento poem, also known as a collage poem, which is made of lines from the poems of other poets.

This requires very little creativity on your part, so if you have never written a poem, do not fear! You can select your favorite lines from poets you love, or even select lines that you hate. It’s up to you.

I’m going to start you off with this simple line and let you take it from there:

unaware our shadows have untied (Yusef Komunyakaa’s “A Greenness Taller Than Gods”)

What’s your line?