I read a poem in a magazine recently by someone famous who shall remain nameless, and it made absolutely no sense. Each line/image seemed random and unrelated to the next. He/she then wrote an explanation of what the poem meant or what life experience it rose from, and again, it seemed to have nothing to do with the poem. It reminded me of a fellow who used to attend our graduate writing program reading series who was schizophrenic. His poems were beautiful and hard to understand, and his explanations of what they meant seemed totally unrelated but almost better than the poem.
What a great writing prompt, I thought. So here it is:
Write ten random sentences. Just look around you and write down ten thoughts that occur as you look. Be sure to get something concrete/physical/visual in each line. Or if you’ve been writing in the same spot for 100 years and are sick of your surroundings, pick ten random lines from 10 different poems by other people. If you happen to miss-read the lines, even better.
Then write a preposterous explanation of what it all means. Or, if you like, somehow fashion these 10 lines into a coherent piece, changing them all to make them your own, of course.
This exercise has never failed to generate new material for me. Hope it does the same for you.