In this month's workshop, Tony Williams asks for your poems on commodities: from lollipops, farmland or petrol to body parts, microchips or precious metals, anything that can be bought and sold
Tony Williams grew up in Matlock, Derbyshire and now lives in Sheffield. His poetry collection The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street is published by Salt. He has carried out research into contemporary pastoral poetry, teaches creative writing and literature, and works as a freelance graphic designer.
Take a look at his exercise on commodity poems
I want you to write a poem about a commodity. Think of what your commodity will be. It could be anything that can be bought and sold: lollipops, farmland, petrol, body parts, microchips, precious metals ...
Make some notes about what your commodity is and what it does. You may need to do some research (Google and Wikipedia are great tools for poets pursuing a tangential line of thought). Think about physical characteristics, location, price, value. What can it be exchanged for? Think about storage. What's its journey through life? Who buys it, and who sells it?
What's useful about your commodity? What are its good points and bad points? If it were alive, how would it behave? How would it talk, and what would it say? How might it affect the people involved with it? I want you to look beyond the facts to get at the intuitive character of your commodity; to write something which feels true, even if it sounds preposterous.
Write an essay in verse on your chosen commodity. It doesn't all have to be true, though it helps if some is. But focus on the subject – the poem should be about your chosen commodity, not about yourself, your lover, war, parents, or death (though any of those things may appear in it).
There are no formal rules, other than to keep your poem to 40 lines or less. Horrify me. Make me laugh.
Please submit your entry (pasted into the email, rather than as an attachment) to firstname.lastname@example.org before midnight on Friday January 29.
(Editor: note elements that this exercise shares with cubing)