FREE Inspiration and Bi-Lingual Writing Exercise!

16 Sep

Want to write something or teach someone else to write something?

Steal away, just like I stole the first stage of this exercise from Caroline Bird whilst working for First Story & developed this template with Peter Kahn whilst working with his Spoken Word Club over in Chicago!

You can access the German version of this document here.

#LoewenMaul Writing Exercise 1.

Write all content on single strips of paper then use these strips to order and construct a poem. 


  • Write ‘I am Happy’ one strip of paper.
  • Now briefly consider how rubbish the word happy is. There is no way it could begin to describe the wide array of types and depths of happy you feel.
  • Now write a list poem, whereby each line will begin with I am… and Happy will be replaced by the tasty and ridiculous things that make you, an individual, happy. For Example…

I am all-you-can-eat Sushi

I am a memory-foam pillow

I am a mobile-library that doubles up as a party

I am the patches under my mum’s eyes

  • Think of food, music, people, colors, smells, textures, moments, movements, tv shows, times of the day, times of the year, sounds…the key is SPECIFICITY.
  • Rather than ‘I am chocolate’, tell me what type? And when and how it would be eaten?
  • Get out as many lines as you can and try not to worry to much about how good you think they are, let us be the judge of that J


  • Think of a memorable time in your past, and a nickname you might have had at that time in your life. It could be a day, could be a stretch of three years, up to you. And write ‘I was…(insert name)…’ on a strip of paper.
  • Now on new strips of paper, write a list poem, where every line begins with I was… but replace the name with all of the details that where in your life at that time. E.g.:

I was mashed potatoes

I was day-old chlorine on skin

I was a broken Lego spaceship

I was uneaten Tangerines

  • Again, think SPECIFICITY, the senses and quantity not quality.



  • Now think about what you will want people to call you in the future. And write ‘I will be…(insert name)…’ on a strip of paper.
  • Then, on new strips of paper you will create a list poem where every line will start with ‘I will be…’ but instead of the name you will write something that you want in your life. E.g.:

I will be Stephan Hawkins, Barrack Obama and Seamus Heaney,

I will be white sand under transparent waves and translucent fish,

I will my mothers sinking eyes. I will sink my own.



  • Now think about who you are now, what people call you now. And write ‘I am…(insert name)…’
  • Now create a list poem where every line begins with I am… and you replace your current name with the things that make up what you do and who you are now. This should be the easiest! Think about your life right now, the smells in it, objects in it and people in it, etc. E.g.:

I am three pairs of tights

I am pink Vaseline

I am more pens than can bit in pockets.

I am a warm-ish Peppermint Mocha.


GROUP POEM TASK: Order // Freeze Frame // Projection// Entrance// Exit

Sample Poems to inspire:





By Caroline Bird



By Deborah Stevenson (first-draft written within the context of this exercise!)


The day I could reach the top of the fridge

to the fruit bowl, only ever filled with a variety of oranges,

Mum force fed Richard two pints of Milk for punishment

for saying Jesus without an Amen…

Inside, I was chanting for his throat to keep front stroking.

My silence choking on potato waffles

and the smell of day old chlorine on the folded forearms

I was hiding in.

I tried to think of my bed sheets

stitched from out grown jeans and sample fabric.

Mum was a broken Lego spaceship.

Me and my brother were uneaten tangeriness

in lunch boxes constructed from 6am hands.

Dad was the washing up and two pieces of toast

every Saturday.

Now, Mum wants to be granite.

We want to be volcanic

under white sand, transparent waves

and translucent fish.

My brother didn’t have gills.

So I will have them

in the shape of deflated brown semicircles

growing underneath receding eyes

like the ones my mum grew…

as she forced that bottle into my brother’s mouth

as she spread the peanut butter in my sandwiches,

as she chopped up my sausages at the 5pm dinner table.

As she drank decaffeinated proudly.

I am sitting with warmish peppermint mocha,

and more pens than can fit

in any of the 26 outgrown pockets

of the bed sheets she stitched.

I am a writer

because of her.


Solo Poem Group Exercise:

A.  Take your favorite 12 strips of paper from your envelope.

B. Play with the order of them until you feel you like the sound of the order when you read them out loud.

C. Cross out as many of the refrains (i.e. ‘I am/ I will be/ I was’) as possible.

D. Add some new lines to give the feel of a ‘specific incident’ e.g. a girl with 2 personalities like in ‘Mary-Jane’ above.

Any questions? Pop them on the #loewenMaul Facebook!


One Response to “FREE Inspiration and Bi-Lingual Writing Exercise!”

  1. grenadejay October 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    Reblogged this on Jackshire's Poetry Blog.

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