Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Poetry Writing: 25 First Lines

I'd like to introduce you to a form of poetry-writing that I created for myself and began to use years ago.  I refer to it as 'first lines.'

The idea is to choose a really great first line (usually by scanning a whole list of lines and picking which one really speaks to you) and design a poem by using that line as the very first line.

I like to have at least a list of 20+ lines to choose when I do this exercise, otherwise I feel limited in subject matter/material.  'But where do the lines come from,' you make ask.  I actually create them from an array of things. Cutting words and headlines from magazines and newspapers is my favorite.  Taking lines from books or articles and rewording them is another fun way to create your own first lines.  Some of  the lines I come up with just pop into my head during a brainstorming session, others have come from poems I have abandoned for one reason or another.

I've used them many a times in my writing and have yielded some interesting results. They are volatile (can be incorporated into journaling and fiction writing) and they  are as easy to create as they are to write with.

Today I'm going to share with you 25 first lines.  I hope they'll prove every bit as inspiring and beneficial to you as they have been to me.  Don't feel frustrated or lose your motivation if every single line doesn't result in a ground-breaking piece of poetry.  The idea is to use this new facet as a way to produce fresh ideas and practice your writing.  Some lines may send you immediately into a writing frenzy while others do nothing at all.  Utilize this list in whatever way you need, and enjoy trying something new!

25 First Lines:

1.  Silver radio, mama of my dreams
2.  I never dreamed I'd surpass 16
3.  I can't remember how it all began
4.  No matter the memory, I carry it
5.  He says I remind him of somebody
6.  It never had a name, my sadness
7.  This is a strange paradise
8.  Friday.  Stale Summer.  I sit alone.
9.  She was always a gutsy girl, beguiling me
10.  For seven days I shook with anger
11.  The moon is a web the sky has spun
12.  I stopped by that place, snow in my hair
13.  His words could set the room on fire
14.  That was the season love spun me like a cheap bar stool
15.  We sat in evening shadows, drunk of ______.
16.  This was my daily practice
17.  I could have driven down the same street again
18.  I stood near the windows of the closed shops
19.  Ten minutes past twelve, the cats are calling beneath my window
20.  Whatever it was, it happened late
21.  How bold October is in her bitter winds
22.  He kissed my flesh like a tan
23.  The manna of my hands, upturned and empty
24.  It's Friday, 19_____.
25.  He was clad in sin, that much I could see


Some pointers to remember:

-you can use more than one line in the same poem.  I've been known to string a small poem together using only lines from my 'line list.'

-you can change the wording of a line in whatever way serves your muse.  Switch a word (or two, or three) for one of your own.  Take out words, add words.  Think of each line as merely a starting point to work from.

-for a more interesting spin, use a first line as basis for a brainstorming session with a 10 or 20 minute time limit

-perhaps you see a line you think would work wonderfully at the end of your poem, or the middle, put them where you need to!


I hope you enjoy writing with first lines!

Until next weeks writing article, I wish you only creative and productive thoughts.



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25 'More' First Lines