Fun with Random Phrases, Part II

Phrases can come from catalogs, newspapers, magazines, or even conversations!

As promised, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I am continuing to post sample poems from our workshop last month. This time, with kind permission from our poets, I will post two poems created through random phrases, one of my most favorite ways to generate poetry. I love random phrases for many reasons but primarily because it helps the poet free herself from the usual writer’s block of a blank page.

For our exercise, each poet drew two cards blindly from a pile of assorted random phrases that I had been collecting for some time. The poet had the option of uniting the phrases into one poem or writing two separate poems.

Jen drew a quote by Roger Ebert and a quote from an article about Lake Superior State College’s unicorn questing privilege program. She chose to write two separate poems. I’ll post the unicorn poem.


If you believe in fairies and smurfs
and life beyond the stars
then you might be eligible
for a “Unicorn Questing Privilege.”

The Lake Superior State University
Is granting licenses now, first come
first serve, to all those interested
in hunting unicorns.

Did I say hunting? No, no
not hunting. This is a “questing” license
A catch and release program.
All unicorns must be returned
to the wilds of your imagination.

So I ask again, are you one of them?


Jen’s love of animals, even imaginary, and her sense of humor are clearly apparent in this gem!

Rosalie drew cards on a brand of cigar (taken my husband’s cigar catalog) and the phrase: “Hello, my name is.” She was inspired to combine both phrases and being Italian, she chose to put her own spin on it!


Ciao, mi chiamo Rosalie
You say you’re on your way to the cabaret—by the beach? Rte. 64?
Yes, I’ll come along.

Isn’t that where the old carved Indian sits outside of the cigar store?
They sell La Perla Habana.
Ohhh—so you smoke them?
Yes, yes, quite an aroma!

Does it linger on your fingers?  Your clothes?

What say we stop there—together—
to inhale some interesting smells

What?—-my name?
Again, my name is Rosalie
What’s yours?


Thanks to Rosalie’s imagination, I can just smell cigars by the beach, can’t you? I have been transported without having to leave my house. And this is the beauty of poetry, and art in general, don’t you think?

In addition to exercises on imagery and random phrases, at our workshop we also created poems out of a series of questions. Next time, I’ll post a poem created by Jane that demonstrates just how the simplest of questions can create another kind of journey, equally evocative.


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