An Exquisite Corpse

corpse the center for book arts
Exquisite Corpse, folded, painted. Credit The Center for Book Arts

Morning light peeks through my bedroom window

dissolves on the floor as a golden square

and rises as a pristine sun

then remains for the first glow of a glorious moon

A moon that radiates light on selfless justice

A message for our past from our future

It did not have to be that way- you had a choice.

And in the choosing doors close, opportunities shift, fail

Magnificent failure, how fascinating!

Like a poem seeking rhythm and grace

My heart longs for you.


corpse 3

At the World Peace Poets and Whatcom Peace & Justice Center workshop on writing this last July, the instructor, Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor, used a group writing technique called Exquisite Corpse.

The 10 line poem above was written by 10 people in this way.  Each line created with only the previous line as an inspiration.  I wrote the first line, then passed to the left. What an interesting path the story takes!

corspe 1
Folded three times

The technique was invented by surrealists and is similar to an old parlor game called Consequences in which players write in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal part of the writing, and then pass it to the next player for a further contribution. Surrealism principal founder André Breton reported that it started in fun, but became playful and eventually enriching. Breton said the diversion started about 1925, but Pierre Reverdy wrote that it started much earlier, at least before 1918.


In a variant now known as picture consequences, instead of sentences, portions of a person are drawn.

Honolulu Museum of Art
Exquisite Corpse, credit Honolulu Museum of Art

Village Books Poetry Group: P.I.P.

VBPG site title photo artist DONA REED:
Hand-pulled Relief Print, “Squabbling Ravens” Please visit her site:

Village Books Poetry Group is a fine place to bring in a PIP = poem in progress.  Last Thursday I shared this new poem “PEW” with my group.  One line in the poem started an interesting conversation.  The line is  “Mid service she wiggles like bacon in a hot pan”.  Some thought it didn’t fit, others said it was “an incredible turning point”.

Being apart of a writing group helps you to think outside the work.  Your writing friends can give you a new perspective on work you maybe too deep into to notice.  I find it a most helpful tool.  Whether you write, non-fiction, fantasy, novels or poems, I encourage you to seek out a writing group.  If there isn’t one in your area, start one.

Here is my poem in it’s original form:

She sits still at first
Coat on, legs crossed, hair in place
I do not know her name
her smile properly friendly
as she shares the peace
Peace be with you-
-and also with you
Mid service she wiggles like bacon in a hot pan
Her focus moves about the sanctuary; forward, then down at her lap,
the back of the pew, left toward a noisy toddler, then at the ring on her finger.
The ring receives the most attention
the corner of my eye catches repetitive moment
her hand out atop her knee, twirling the ring
her thumb and forefinger
Finally, her thoughts become action
Arm reaches for the spine
of  a hymnal laying on it’s back
gone sideways from first service
with a quick flip she corrects
it upright, front forward
Her fingers now at rest,
she turns to smile
This was something easy to fix

If you live in the Bellingham area, or would like more informaiton about how to start a writing group in your area, contact me: