Challenge 15: Chinese Whisper Poem

15-CC-Chris-Blakeley-550photo by Chris Blakeley

We are challenging you to write your own mini anthology of poems this August! To help you, every two days poet Jon Stone will set a new challenge on the Young Poets Network site to spark off a new poem.

Challenge 15. Chinese whisper poem

This poem also requires a friend. Have them choose a short-ish poem for you and translate that poem into simple images (either by hand or in painting software). Then, using only the images, try to reimagine and rewrite the poem.

Now try to reconstruct a poem out of those pieces, using as many as you can.

Jon’s example of a Chinese Whispers Poem:

Chinese Whispers 1

Chinese Whispers 2

Chinese Whispers 3

Chinese Whispers 4

Chinese Whispers 5

Girl and hamburger

Girl and green dragon drinking from bottle

Heap of yellow sticks and couple walking on sand by sea

Sea, sand and empty trail - couple goneButterton

after If you like sugar I’ll like sugar too by Matthea Harvey

What happened to the girl who worked on the farm?
We used to love her straw and petrol smell,

her starved look, sweet bruises. Even now,
I watch cattle scrub their haunches on oak trunks,

snapping the stem of my glass as I dream of
thick creams and cheeses, growing slack-eyed

as the congregations at pawned churches.
We fugitives came, skipping over stalagmites,

loving the doing but not the being, the carving
but not the carvery, beautifying but not beauty.

Whereas she would shake her coalish mane,
talk of tearing flags while our burgers hardened,

then curse the gremlins that hocked the engines
of her harvesters, drained her cellar of wine.

Once, we flew a black kite into a blazing treetop
and I know each of you lay beside her on the beach,

just as I did, waiting for the moment, waiting,
thinking the tide might come and steal you both away.

Submitting your poem

Jon has now chosen his favourite responses to the August challenges, but you can still use his workshop to spark a new poem and send to one of the opportunities on our Poetry Opportunities Page!

Jon Stone

Jon Stone was born in Derby and currently lives in Whitechapel, London. He is co-creator of the multi-format arts journal Fuselit and micro-anthology publishers Sidekick Books. He won a Society of Authors Eric Gregory Award in 2012 and his collection, School of Forgery (Salt, 2012) is a Poetry Book Society Summer Recommendation. He works as a court transcript editor.

Published August, 2012

4 thoughts on “Challenge 15: Chinese Whisper Poem

    1. That’s the idea. Your friend picks a poem and turns it into pictures. You then see only the pictures and write them into a new poem.

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