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Prompt #130 Osmosis

November 1, 2012



about one way that we learn

We Write Poems:
This week we want to look at a common, if less conscious, method of learning (and of course, here, about the craft of writing poems).  Imitation or mimicry.  We’ve all used this method in our lives.  Although as writers sometimes we perhaps have been told or think this process is less genuine or unfair.  But then how did we learn to walk and especially, how to speak?  We witnessed what was at one point “not possible” for us, then did our best to copy the behavior.  We’re suggesting if you have some measure of lingering consideration or doubt – let go being shy about learning and expanding your abilities in this way.  (Actually we touch upon this tangentially when we do “cento” poems as we’ve done several times!)

More specifically, and of a most “natural” mode, we want to engage the process by “osmosis”.

osmosis, a process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one, thus equalizing the concentrations on each side of the membrane.

figurative the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, knowledge, etc.

That’s a fancy way to say you tend to emulate what you read – what you read, the craft of the form, the language, tends to inform and represent itself in what you then write.  Now to attempt direct copy, that would be stiff, uncomfortable (both to write and read), and long term of little lasting productive value.

So here’s the simple process we’d like you to try this week.  Select some writer you admire (especially if their style and/or language is not so much like whatever is your own), then spend some time reading their work (poems or prose don’t matter at all).  Just read, don’t “plan ahead”.  Let their style soak in for a while (a few minutes or days, as you desire).  Then write your poem, allowing that “flavor” to have its way in what you write.  Again, no worries if you feel a bit like you’re just doing mimicry (that IS what we’re asking you to do!).  The subject and form of your poem, that’s up to you.  (In time, what you newly incorporate will change some by who you are and become genuinely your own.)

We invite you to make some comments about this process for you.  What result did you feel writing this way?  Tell us please who the writer was you selected with perhaps a small sample of their style.  Did it actually alter your thought patterns as well as written word?  And, have fun!

Come back to leave a link to your poem next Wednesday when you see our second follow-up post called, It’s Post Your Poems Day!  If you have questions about We Write Poems and our prompt-and-poem process, or if you are new here at WWP, please read our about page.

  1. November 1, 2012 4:44 am

    Super idea, Neil. I’ve caught a case of Chekhov before, and Joyce, and that touch of Faulkner. Never a poet. Hmmm. Who?

  2. Rinkly Rimes permalink
    November 4, 2012 1:17 am

    A scientific theme. Nice one!

  3. lucewriter permalink
    November 6, 2012 11:16 pm

    I love this blog! So glad I found it!

    • November 7, 2012 12:49 am

      Welcome and I hope you enjoy yourself here.

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