Tag Archives: cento

“Ravel” by Mary Dalton (a cento from Hooking, 2013)

This weekend I’m giving a talk at the Interdisciplinary Workshop on the Technique of Cento Texts, hosted by the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. The poem I’ll be discussing as a case study is “Ravel” by Mary Dalton, from her book of centos, Hooking (Véhicule P, 2013). I’m sharing an annotated copy of that poem here so other delegates can read it, since it is hard enough to find in Canada, never mind elsewhere. (I’m sharing this copy under educational fair dealing auspices, and will delete it from this post after the weekend.)

Two new poems

Thanks to EVENT Magazine for publishing two of my poems, “What a name’s in” and “No family one pictures” — alongside superb work by other writers — in the current issue (vol 46 no 2, 2017).

An acrosticento (for #writing201)

The third #writing201 assignment is to write an acrostic on trust. This acrostic is also a cento, composed wholly of lines borrowed from other poems. While the poem contemplates trust in one’s beloved, its appropriative form queries trust in authorship and textual authority. So it’s an … acrosticento, then?

the promise of no other

holding the grass seed and the dune
everything was ok. Eating it meant you embraced
and people who are not us no matter who we are
the promise of no other, the sleeper in the garden
has a shadow—then the lilacs across the yard
even magnanimous,
rich with darkness. Inside the grass is the wish to be rooted, inside the rain


Each line above corresponds to a numbered entry below, to acknowledge and link to the line’s source. The sources are all poems distributed by the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day email service, which I can’t highly enough recommend subscribing to; it’s a great way to sample the spectrum of excellent poetry being published today. And composing a cento of standout lines from other poems is a great way to discover what kinds of poems and voices one is drawn to – and, in the process, to discover one’s own voice too. (David Shields revived the practice of cento and textual collage in his 2010 book Reality Hunger, which is thus also a source for this work, and also a must-read for writers.)

1. CJ Evans, “The dandelions in the moment and then” (2015)
2. Amy Gerstler, “Fruit cocktail in light syrup” (2014)
3. Martha Ronk, “Location LA” (2015) http://academyofamericanpoets.cmail1.com/t/y-e-idhiulk-jrdihkkko-r/
4. Joseph Fasano, “Testimony” (2014)
5. Sara Eliza Johnson, “Combustion” (2014)
6. Philip Schultz, “Afterwards” (2014)
7. Joanna Klink, from “3 Bewildered Landscapes” (2014)