Till There Is No Night: W.S. Merwin’s Writing Prompt For You

Here is how a tongue becomes a bell.

Below is the text of a post post-script in a letter W.S. Merwin set to John Crowe Ransom in 1953.  The occasion for the letter was both disappointment and business; Merwin was responding to the news that he had not received a fellowship from KR (he would receive it when he reapplied for the fellowship in 1954, along with a fiction writer named Flannery O’Connor.)

The business was about a poem that Ransom had accepted for The Kenyon Reviewentitled “Canso.”  You can find the published version in Autumn 1953 issue of KR, which has been scanned and is available via the KR archives on JSTOR.

But enough factual context.  Here’s another truth: Below, in an ancient script, on brittle parchment, W.S. Merwin had given a writing prompt FOR YOU!  Could you make a poem that follows the changes he’s specified here?  Permission granted to skip the page/strophe/line directions he makes,  but bonus points if you can make a poem that follows these changes exactly.

Post results!–either full poems, or just bits that could collaboratively complete the task with other’s help.

(Materials reprinted with permission of the Greenslade Special Collections and Archives at Kenyon College.  Special thanks to Ethan Henderson.)

 

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~ by bawriters on November 12, 2010.

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