Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 20 comments
If you find the idea of writing poetry completely intimidating, you might want to try out a creativity tool I rediscovered: magnetic poetry.

I recall magnetic poetry being the hot new thing back in the mid-1990s, usually sold in bookstore gift sections. Several local coffee shops near me kept cookie sheets coated with the small magnetized pieces of type you could arrange into forms of expression.

The challenge was to work with the words at hand and arrange them into something at least partially coherent. The truly patient would dig through the sticky bits to find just the right words. The impatient would sacrifice coherence. The guffawing teenagers usually left behind suggestive little ditties like this: white curve / in a window / moon rise / blush and run.

I picked up a new set of magnetic poetry at a flea market over the summer--the "romance" set, which I knew would have lots of fun additions to the two sets I already own. When we first got the set home, my daughter and I noodled around for a good forty minutes trying different combinations.

My creativity was spurred by three words that had come linked together on one of the perforated sheets: "slow," "velvet" and "dance."

Here's what resulted:


I noticed a few interesting things working in this medium. First, one tends to go light with using articles, because who wants to spend twenty minutes digging for an "a" or "an"? Second, odd combinations pop up all the time and can cause your subject and tone can shift dramatically as you compose. This piece shifted when the word "pleasure" caught my eye. I got thinking what a cliched concept it often is and let my imagination roam for new ways to conceive it.

If you haven't ever played with magnetic poetry, I highly recommend it as a warm-up tool. Seeing stacks of words randomly juxtaposed will stir your imagination in wonderful ways.

Have you ever played with magnetic poetry sets? If you were to take the words I used, how would you rearrange them?

20 comments:

  1. oh how fun. I will have to look out for some to add the batch of knitting words I have.

    a maybe question
    smooth, slow burn
    rough [with] promise

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  2. love it! i have a set and need to inspire my clunky boys with the finesse of poetry since they are always rooting through the fridge! ha!
    happy m day!

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    1. You could always add in a very dude-ish set like Pirate, which is available on Amazon, to entice them to play with words.

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  3. I have used magnetic sets. I have one on the refrigerator, and have had some in my classroom. Enjoyed them all.
    Over here from the A to Z!

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    1. Cool! Glad you also find them a fun tool to use. Thanks for visiting!

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  4. What a great reminder! I have both the basic set and the "Shakespearean" set, and need to clear off enough of my fridge to pull them out and play with them some more!

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    1. I bet the Shakespeare set is especially fun. I'm also intrigued by the Pirate set I saw online. Have fun playing!

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  5. I love those magnetic words. We just got a promo set at work (at an insurance company...oh joy!) and I've been having fun abusing the words inappropriately. Snicker.

    Fantastic poem! I'd have zeroed in slow velvet dance too. :)

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    1. INSURANCE POETRY? The mind boggles. Though I have at times thought about creating found poetry (see my entry for D) using an insurance policy, just for the challenge.

      The coffee shop I'd visited that kept cookie sheets full of sets usually had lots of naughty poems left behind. I bet it wasn't only the teenagers having this kind of fun. LOL.

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  6. I have seen these on fridges and never really understood what they were for (seemed to me like it would be quicker to write a note than search for words!) but it makes sense now that you describe it! I love the poem you came up with!

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    1. I suppose you could leave notes with them. Indeed it would be an exercise in patience to do so. :-)

      I've typically kept them on or near a filing cabinet. My fridge is littered enough with appointments and reminders.

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  7. Visiting from A/Z; I haven't played around with any magnetic poetry sets, but now I want one. Sounds like a lot of fun to creatively come up with poems while searching for words; I can see it would be a great activity to do with someone and see what the two come up with together!

    Good luck with the rest of the challenge :)

    betty

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Betty. I've seen sets in most bookstores' gift departments. The big online bookstores also carry them. Amazon has dozens of sets.

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  8. I didn't realize there was such a variety of magnetic poetry sets. Shakespearean & Pirate versions, even? How fun! Thanks for the reminder. I should add this to my freewriting time.

    ~Tui Snider~
    @TuiSnider on Twitter
    My blog: Tui Snider's Offbeat & Overlooked Travel
    I am also part of the #StoryDam team, a friendly writing community!

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    1. they can be a great warmup tool or just fun, to keep you playing with words.

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  9. I think I have five sets now... they mix and match really well. SOOSOSOSSSOOOOO much fun!

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    1. Awesome. I have three altogether. They are fun to mix up.

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  10. Laurel,

    What a great idea! I am fascinated by the art of poetry writing. I play around with words all the time, but have never tried writing a poem. The whole process seems rather magical to me. Perhaps I should just have a go, experiment and see what happens. I'll watch out for a magnetic poetry set!

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    1. If you haven't entered my giveaway of Poemcrazy, you definitely should. It's linked on several of my posts (see O and P and Q). It has some wonderful exercises to help any poet from novice to expert. Magnetic poetry sets are available at many bookstores and online retailers (Amazon, B&N).

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