We Write Poems gave a prompt last week of writing a Cento - a mash-up poem made up of other people's work (with credit given, of course.) Interestingly, We Write Poems' ground rules stated that the lines in our new poems had to come from works that were not from poetry, but they could take on whatever form we wished, provided we used complete sentences and used only one source per poem.
A few years ago, I actually started playing with this form, but done in a slightly different manner: The Cento was to be written as a quatrain, with four separate lines from four different poems, with the accreditation to follow (underneath the poem) in subscript.
Like this one, for example:
At the Laundromat with Walt Whitman
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour.
If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing?
Oh let there be nothing on earth but laundry
and below them the filthy sneakers, shifting, shifting.
Allen Ginsberg, A Supermarket in California; Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself, #49; Richard Wilbur, Love Calls Us to the Things of This World; Catherine Doty, Momentum
In any event, here's a few attempts at the Cento, per the instructions from We Write Poems.
It was a big bat.
What does it mean, Professor?
It is the Count. But…
Dracula – Bram Stoker
My Mom Makes Weird ‘K’ Noises
It didn’t sound kuplink!
He heard a noise from over a stump and thought,
“That is my mother walking along.”
…kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk….
Blueberries for Sal – Robert McCloskey
Sevenling (At a Lonely Crossroads on the Edge of a Prairie)
But this ain’t the road to Canada,
this is the road to Pittsburgh
Did this mean I should at last go on my pilgrimage
on the dark roads around America?
The greatest ride of my life was about to come up…
On the Road – Jack Kerouac