My Own Personal Universe

A poet’s trick for getting unstuck, although it probably applies well enough to other art: Take a stack of index cards cut in half, or blank business cards, or something similar. Write a single word on each one: About 80 to 90 percent concrete nouns, with a handful of verbs and adjectives, maybe a couple abstract nouns. Mix well. Draw three. (Glassine. Ignite. Stamp.)

Got an idea? No? Try again. (Cement. Bile. Plasma.)

I learned it during the CTY poetry workshop I took about fifteen years ago. The instructors called it a personal universe deck. (Rare earth. Extinguish. Bait.)

I’d more or less forgotten about building one since then. But writing more than occasionally requires a bit more effort, and that requires some kickstarting. So I made a new one this week. (Squash. Arsenic. Crutch.)

It’s kind of fun. And sometimes you get poems out of it. (Appendix. Air-filter. Larva).

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