Skip to content

prompt 188 Holiday Cento

December 12, 2013

To everyone who participated in prompt 186, bravo and thank you.  I really enjoyed reading how creatively each of you spun it.

This week’s prompt could be considered another version of collage–the cento.  I found the following quote in an article on collage, but it also fits the purpose of many poetic writings, including cento.

Coordination rather than subordination, likeness and difference rather than logic or sequence or even qualification–here are the elements of verbal collage.  The things described exist:  the poet puts them before us without explicit comment or explanation.

Read more:
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Cento uses lines from other writings.  Here are general ideas for holiday sources for your cento:

  • holiday short stories, novels, or poems
  • holiday song lyrics
  • holiday movie or tv show lines
  • non-holiday sources that work with your holiday theme

Now go line gathering.  Be sure and record the sources along with their corresponding lines and please include your list of sources following your cento.  You can search for lines with a theme already in mind, or you can see what emerges from the lines you collect. [‘s tradition prompt might pair quite nicely with this.]  Use only the lines which flow into the theme you’ve fashioned.

Enjoy the process.  Reminisce as you create.  I wait here at the hearth to hear when “. . . . came the merry maskers in,/And carols roared with blithesome din.”  –“Christmas in the Olden Time” by Sir Walter Scott

Mark/save any promising holiday prose you find while searching through short stories, novels, and other prose sources.  The next prompt will focus on erasure/found poetry.
  1. December 12, 2013 4:51 am

    Interesting way of looking at the Cento. As a rule I really, really, really do not like them. (she said, using her clean indoor voice)

    • December 12, 2013 5:05 am

      Feel free to write whatever you want in whatever form feels right. I find cento very difficult to do well. I always seem to pick language and styles that jar one another rather than flow together seemlessly. Thank you for reading the prompt and sharing your thoughts on it. Truly enjoyed that poem you linked for the first prompt (sun-globes).

      • December 12, 2013 9:01 pm

        Thanks. It was fun to write. Turned out to be a birthday gift. My Cuz liked it, so thanks for the prompt.

        • December 13, 2013 5:05 am

          That’s great! There are few gifts more personal than gifting one’s writing.

  2. December 12, 2013 5:31 am

    Wrote this before reading the prompt. Not a cento fan – don’t have the time right now.
    But it fits with the ‘collage’ theme… so it will have to do.

    • December 12, 2013 5:41 am

      I like it. Much of it feels all too familiar. The season truly is a time of questioning and endurance. May your home be blessed with laughter.

      • December 12, 2013 5:56 am

        Thank you, Yousei Hime.
        Blessings to you and all.

  3. December 12, 2013 5:52 am

    What an interesting prompt: I took a stack of poems I had written and randomly took a line
    from each. Then I changed some words, left out some, rearranged them.

    Clickty Clack/Clickty Clack
    Faint words blow
    Across the mesa
    Hunger for an image
    Close connection
    Time flies
    So quickly
    I dream
    Come out to play
    One memory recalled
    Each shape carefully rendered
    Clickty Clack/Clickty Clack

    Split past and present
    Appears and disappears
    What happens
    In the white light
    One tree
    Branches bare
    Lying on my slab
    Dressed in black
    Grey, lonely silent
    Clickty Clack/Clickty Clack

    Dreams dwindle
    Crash to the floor
    It does not matter
    Return to a safer place
    Quietly we sit
    Cook and clean
    Leave no trace
    She will come again
    Dressed in linen
    Clickty Clack/Clickty Clack

    I find the end
    Dig Down
    Clickty Clack/Clickty Clack

    • December 12, 2013 6:06 am

      Very clever version of cento, only one source to cite. I still have Barbara’s sun-globes, so the refrain in your piece became a globe shaking. That shook up the previous images and changed them into the next ones. Really enjoyed this. 🙂

    • December 17, 2013 8:12 am

      I love the refrain and I love that you borrowed your own lines to create the cento. I borrowed a few of my own lines to create mine. I also love the images strung together, especially in the second stanza (In the white light/Landscape/One tree/Branches bare/Lying on my slab/Dressed in black/Grey, lonely silent)

  4. December 12, 2013 12:34 pm

    Whew! This should be interesting.


  5. December 12, 2013 12:48 pm

    I love centos!

    Winter Moon on Snowy Woods

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    On a clear winter’s evening.
    The crescent moon,
    a liquid moon, moves gently
    among the long branches .
    Against a sure winter
    the wise trees
    stand sleeping in the cold.

    There’s a certain Slant of light,
    When it comes, the Landscape listens —
    Shadows — hold their breath —
    In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
    Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
    Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

    And tree and house, and hill and lake,
    Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

    1.”Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” Robert Frost
    2. Winter Twilight by Anne Porter
    3. Winter Trees by William Carlos Williams
    4. 258 Emily Dickinson
    5. In the bleak midwinter By Christina Rossetti
    6. Winter-Time by Robert Louis Stevenson

    • December 12, 2013 12:54 pm

      georgeplace2013Debi Swim,
      So, so nice. I miss the fields of snow, the soft falling snow, this winter ambiance. Well done. I’m feeling a bit of holiday spirit now.

    • December 13, 2013 6:09 am

      Very nice, Debi! You did those poets very proud. 🙂

    • December 17, 2013 12:17 pm

      This is gorgeous! These classic poets’ lines seem to lend themselves well to this kind of treatment.


  6. December 12, 2013 9:04 pm

    Had so many repeated words, I was tempted to turn it into a sestina and thereby hit two of my least favorite forms in one. Took my meds. I’m better now.

  7. December 13, 2013 6:06 am

    This cento is my second attempt. The first one, thankfully, I slept on. It was a dud. I woke this morning with a different way to approach it, with which I’m relatively pleased.

    Fun prompt, Yousei. Many thanks.

  8. December 13, 2013 2:28 pm

    I wrote one. It was a lot of fun, though I may have cheated a bit because I mostly used lines from postcards. 🙂

    • December 13, 2013 3:49 pm

      Fine by me, but difficult to credit. I had actually considered suggesting that. Looking forward to reading it.

  9. December 13, 2013 7:52 pm

    Thanks for the prompt, Yousei. It’s been phenomenal.

    doing Wallace Stevens

Comments are closed.