Metre Maids Prompt #1: Translation Party!
Yes! It’s that time again, even though it’s never been that time before, for us to join you in an extravagant orgy of creation. Metaphorically speaking, of course; we are classy dames and gents. But this will, with any luck, be the first of a series of writing prompts in which we test our mettle as poets, share the fruits of our labour and generally prod buttock.
The theme this week is translation, although mistranslation would be closer to the truth. Living in China, I have seen more than my fair share of mangled English, usually referred to as Chinglish. It’s a source of humour, of course, but it’s also a wonderful way to reboot your approach to language; a phrase like ‘and she enjoyed a wooden coffin uniquely’, is ridiculous on the surface, but it has the seeds of poetry in it. Today we’ll be exploring the use of those seeds with one of the best tools for mangling language around.
1. Take the first line from the last poem you wrote. If you’re into skinny poems, you can take the first few lines.
2. Input said line into the excellent website known as Translation Party.
3. Take the phrase at which equilibrium is achieved and use it as the first line (or first few lines) of a new poem.
FOR EXAMPLE: The first line of the last poem I wrote was ‘He lived an under-the-bonnet life’. I put that line through Translation Party and, after eleven hops, arrive at the phrase ‘Under the hood of his life’ (a surprisingly conservative result, all things considered.) I then use that line as the starting point for my new piece.
You can share your response with us by either posting directly into the comments or providing us with a link. We’ll discuss the responses next week and feature one or two of our favourites. Happy writing!