Cento from a student in The Urban Arts Initiative

I run a creative writing workshop at the Urban Arts Initiative in downtown Hamilton. This session we are working on a project to create postcards which will be distributed all over Hamilton. They will create a visual image to go on the other side.

Recently, I brought in a stack of poetry books donated by Brick Books. Before they chose which one they got to keep, I wanted them to explore the various poets. So, I had them write centos--they would look through the books and choose lines that spoke to them and then assemble the lines into their own poems. Or they could choose lines at random (every page 12, line 7, for example).

In this way they had took ownership of their reading, looking and reading through a broad selection of poets that Brick publishes. They would think about how the lines worked by themselves and in poems. They all were happy to be able to take a book home with them. They thought carefully about which book was the one for them. They all found something that excited them. I was thrilled at the work that they created.

The above poem is an especially fantastic creation. The student used a variety of lines from the Brick Books published, but also worked in a paraphrase of a line in a poem by W.S. Merwin which I had read to the students earlier.