Writing Exercise: 5 x 5

by laura didyk

This past May, I took a 3-hour class with poets Matthew and Michael Dickman at the Hugo House in Seattle, WA. I’m pretty sure it was Matthew that led this exercise but I don’t trust my memory when dealing with identical twins.

5 x 5

Make a list numbered 1–5. You can choose a random assortment of things (fill in the [ ] with whatever *type* or category of *thing* you’d like but just make them disparate):

1. [a color]
2. [a town or city]
3. [a vegetable]
4. [body part]
5. [kitchen item]

Lastly, choose title of a favorite song, or any song.

Now, you have 5 minutes to write a poem or short prose piece that includes all five of these things. They can be in any order.

Post your piece in the comments section!

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EXAMPLE

Here’s the list we created as a group in the workshop:

1. yellow
2. Portland
3. carrots
4. breasts
5. tinfoil

Song title: “All You Need Is Love”

This is the poem that I wrote in class (I’ve since revised it. It’s now much longer with a new title, but all 5 of the objects/words remain.):

All You Need Is Love

All I need is
yellow. And green. And
garbage. Portland, Oregon,
is yours. Portland,
Maine, is mine. Plus carrots.
And my breasts. Although, you can have
one under the covers of your mind
while you try to nap. The other
you can wrap in a red bow (you can have red too),
and mail it to whichever of your friends you think
might need it, maybe Eric, while he tries
to fall asleep. the way we all
try, and try.