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Word mapping

1. Choose a word or short phrase which is the subject of the poem you wish to explore. It could even be the title you have in mind.

2. Write this in the middle of a blank page and brainstorm other words and language that are somehow phonetically related – here you might think about full rhymes, half rhyme, assonance, consonance, alliteration. Be as loose as you want here.

e.g. 1: FOX
Coax, box, locks, fob, hoax, pox, lox, fax, fix, folk, foot

In this example, rather than doing the mapping myself, I typed the phrase ‘sevencardstud’ into an internet anagram server, which brought up hundreds of anagrams. I looked down the list of these and then noted twenty or so words I felt I might use in a poem. Here are some that came up:

crusaded, vents, dancers, duvets, traduces, vends, ventured, ducats, venders, cravens, dusted, caverns, cussed, cursed, dunces, starved, dunces, ravens

(The two examples above replicate exercises I used in writing poems in my first collection: one is called ‘Foxes’; the other ‘Seven Card Stud’)

3. Once you have ‘harnessed’ your words, you should write a first draft of a poem, trying to include as many of these words as possible, seeing where these words take you. Don’t worry if you can only work in a few of them – no-one is marking you!

4. When you redraft you might be able to include more of these words.

Keep redrafting. Good luck.

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Word mapping

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