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Imitation is the perfect type of flattery. All artistic folks, whether or not they be writers, artists, dancers, singers or actors, know that. Take into consideration the performers on a TV present like “The Voice,” who typically carry out the track of a choose they’re concentrating on. Generally, it’s imitation that will get them on the group of their desires. It’s the similar with poetry.

When you resolve to jot down a poem, it usually feels as if you’re on a quest for the proper phrase, the proper picture, or the proper thought. In some ways a poem is a treasure and the writing of a poem is a harmful treasure hunt. You by no means know what you may occur upon when you begin writing.

Let’s check out a type of poem known as the cento. Cento is a Sixteenth-century Latin phrase, that means “patchwork.” A cento is crafted from “stolen” or discovered sources. Every line in a cento is taken from a supply and placing these traces collectively weaves them right into a patchwork of traces.

Many individuals consider the cento as a kind of “collage-poem.” A collage is made by combining photos, texts and textures of various mediums and sizes. Equally, a cento is created by patching collectively many discovered traces to create a poem.

After all, stealing is horrible and each artist should give credit score the place credit score is due, so on the backside of each cento is a notice the place the author lists the names of his or her supply texts within the order that they seem within the traces of the poem.

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On your cento, you’ll be utilizing the At Dwelling part to create a poem of 5 to seven traces. Your traces may be phrases from articles, headlines, quotes and even picture captions. To chop and paste your cento, observe the steps beneath.

The hunt

Hunt, or skim by way of the paper for traces that talk to you. Perhaps your eye will choose a sentence that makes use of fascinating language, like a vibrant verb or a compelling adjective; possibly you’ll find a sentence that features a description of a picture you admire, or possibly you’ll find a line that refers to one thing that resonates with you, like a point out of a season, a coloration or an emotion. Maintain searching in your treasured traces. Chances are you’ll have already got a subject in thoughts, or your subject might come to you after you have your traces lower out and you actually study them.

Maintain observe

Although this poem will likely be your individual creation, the traces usually are not. Take out a chunk of paper, or you should utilize a laptop computer or cellphone and write every line down after which write down the creator of the article that line got here from. You will have this later.

Thieve (or Reduce)

If you’re working from the print newspaper, lower out the traces you have got discovered and place them on a flat floor. Or copy them to a doc in your cellphone.


Take a look at your particular person traces and begin enjoying round with their order, as you stretch them out like snippets of yarn on a desk or flooring. Might one line leap off one other? If that’s the case, put that pair to the facet. Maintain discovering connections. Think about these stolen traces to be threads you’re weaving collectively in that means, picture or emotion.

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Upon getting laid out your traces, take into consideration put them collectively. If you’re nonetheless deciding what your poem is about, maybe give attention to an emotion, a spot or a picture. Your subject is as much as you. Let these borrowed phrases spark one thing artistic inside you.

Whenever you’re prepared, resolve what line you wish to begin with and what line you wish to finish with. Laying these traces out as a body will get you motivated. Then, begin laying out your different traces. If one thing appears unsuitable, transfer it round, or lower it. Chances are you’ll even wish to search for one other line to substitute for it.


Paste your traces on paper or on a doc, and you’ve got your cento. Be sure to rigorously write out, or kind your sources.

Congratulations. You’ve got now written a cento with the beneficiant assist of others!

Sources for Leah Umansky’s cento, drawn from the Nov. 8 situation of At Dwelling: At Dwelling cowl, Courtney Rubin, Anna Goldfarb, Tara Parker-Pope, Joseph Burns, Anna Goldfarb, Anna Goldfarb


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