Chinoiserie

Writing Exercises

  1. “Love Notes from the Firefly Spanish/English Visual Dictionary” travels through a bilingual visual dictionary. Select a visual dictionary. What specialized words or everyday objects capture your attention? Combine several of them in one poem. Allow associative leaps to guide you.

  2. Clothing has often inspired poetry, including “Red Dress” in Chinoiserie. The Academy of American Poets feature “Poems for the Clothesline” includes many examples, remarking that “Clothing in poetry often appears in transformation, taking on more than its nature.” Write about an article of clothing that invites further exploration into its history, methods of construction, culture, uses, or related topics.

  3. “After the Bell Has Called the Women from the Fields” borrows its title from a line by Quan Barry. What are memorable lines in your favorite poems? Select a line as a point of departure. Respond to it, or argue with it. Use it as a title. Try it as an opening line and continue in a new direction.

  4. “Norma Desmond Descending the Staircase as Salome” is a dramatic monologue. Adopt a character unlike yourself. Imagine a scene from his/her perspective.

  5. “Black Roses” and “Poppies” are inspired by flowers. Visit “Poems About Gardens” at The Academy of American Poets. What do these poems share in their approaches? How do they differ? Begin with observation. Where does the poem lead you?

  6. “Design for a Flying Machine,” “The Story of Adam and Eve,” and “Cebolla Church” are based on art. Explore the poems included in “Ekphrasis: Poetry Confronting Art”. Which artists fascinate you? How can you transport your reader beyond descriptions of the visible? Draft a poem using a painting, sculpture, engraving, photograph, woodblock print, or similar source.