Thrown poems ‘Shock the Mind’

I came across this blog entry by Janet Ruffin, a woman who does art therapy with children with cancer. To help restore her mental energy she developed a creative exercise that she can do on her breaks.

I will put the instructions directly in her words:


… I created a short exercise I could do during my workday.At lunchtime, I would choose a book from the library, sneak upstairs to the 11th floor, scratch paper and lunch in hand, and find a chair facing a window.I would open the book at random, write down three words and three phrases from the page and then turn to another section and do the same. I would play with combining these words and phrases until something emerged. Here’s an example:

A place under the moon
where bleeding bees
drumming frogs
try to hold sucking things

In this process, words combine that would normally never be put together. Refreshing, curious or eerie, a “thrown poem” shocks the mind. It takes you away to sit under trees and smell lilac and lavender — even on the 11th floor of a hospital.Try it and see what you come up with.
I decided I’d better give this exercise a try before passing it along, so I sat down with one of my twelve-year old son’s fantasy books. Here’s my thrown poem. I don’t know if I followed her rules exactly the way she intended, but it was sure a fun exercise and felt very free and breezy to write this way.
He was a great power,
but now he is decrepit
no longer leaving prints
in his gloom he is blurring at the edges
“I couldn’t understand the rules”, he says
“All I saw of it was a great crash
and then a great roaring bonfire in instants”
He shouts as he dissolves into mist.

5 thoughts on “Thrown poems ‘Shock the Mind’

  1. Kelly says:

    Hey Sam,
    I love this exercise… here’s what I came up with today:
    From the four directions of the circle
    Trust all response are subjective.
    Seriously, let feelings unfold
    Coherence will emerge
    perspecive will be convincingly intimate
    Write, paint, sing!
    Something essential that cannot be sacrificed.

  2. A Thrown poem how exciting. Yes it does tantalize the mind. Thanks

  3. The saved immigrant seeds
    A well intended, chance to talk
    Diversity, in night off insights.

    What a fun exercise!

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