Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the exquisite corpse (or exquisite cadaver), a collaborative poem that would make a fun poetic game.
This week, we’re going to examine the exquisite corpse, which sounds a little spooky, but it’s actually a collaborative poetic form that could make for a fun poetic game. Invented by the surrealists, the exquisite corpse (also known as the exquisite cadaver) is created by several collaborators who each add a piece (whether a word or line) to the composition based only on the previous added piece.
So as an example, one contributor might start with a line like “The dandelions darted across the field,” and then, the next contributor might add a line like, “like lions stalking a gazelle from afar.” Then, the next contributor, who can only see the previous contribution, might add a line like, “we paced back and forth in front of the doughnut shop.” The fourth contributor might add: “debating whether we should go in or go out.” And so on.
Once everyone’s satisfied with the end, the contributors can reveal how the entire composition fits together (and probably share in a good laugh). This form feels a bit like a mix of the renga and cut-up technique, and I’m sure it would be fun for poets and non-poets alike.
Play with poetic forms!
Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).