Tag Archives: Slang

Twenty Little Poetry Projects, by the late poet, Jim Simmerman

This is the exercise my students completed for class.  It’s fun.  Everyone should try it. 


1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five sense, one after another.
4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses.)
5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
7. Change direction or digress from something you said.
8. Use a slang word you’ve never seen in a poem.
9. Use an example of false cause-and-effect logic.
10. Use a piece of “talk” you’ve actually heard (preferably in a dialect.)
11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective)(concrete noun) of (abstract noun)…”

12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse what you normally think about it.

13. Make the person or character in a poem do something he/she could not do in “real life.”

14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.

17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but makes no sense.
18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19. Make a nonhuman object say or do something human.

20. Close the poem with a vivid image that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

Here is a link to the poem, “Dear,” which I had published from following this exercise (loosely) in Bellevue Literary Review.  While I’m at it, here is a link to Jim Simmerman‘s, “Moon Go Away, I Don’t Love You No More,” which follows this format exactly, and provides good examples of each the twenty projects, should you want to check it out.