Cento Poem – A Poem that Stitches Lines

Cento Poem
A Cento poem is easy to create. A Cento is created by stitching the lines of other poems together to form a brand new poem. Each line must come from a different poetic source.

Below you’ll find a short Cento I’ve created and the source for each line of poem.

* * * *

Down at the water’s edge, at the place, (Bishop)
I dream no more but stare at a hole. (Garrigue)
I’ve spent the last days, furthermore, (Merrill)
surprised at the earth. (Merwin)
I am alive – I guess. (Dickinson)

* * * * *

Line 1 – Elizabeth Bishop » At the Fishhouses
Line 2 – Jean Garrigue » Dialog
Line 3 – James Merrill » Lost in Translation
Line 4 – W.S. Merwin » For the Anniversary of My Death
Line 5 – Emily Dickinson » I am alive – I guess

* * * * *

Get Started:

  1. Make the writing project more challenging:
    • Make your poem rhyme
    • Make your poem longer than ten lines
    • Make sure there is a nice rhythm
    • Make tenses agree
    • Make sure the poem is written all in first person or third person
  2. Give credit to the poets. Include their name next to the line quoted.

Do you like learning about different forms of poetry? Take a look at Tanka – 31 Syllable Poems.