This can be an active exercise where pairs work together to compile their poems. It is another idea that encourages exploring and discovering the accident of meaning.
The aim of this unit of work is to get you exploring other types of writing created by the ‘accident of meaning’. You will be relying on an element of chance in structuring your own writing.
Your poem will be called Commands With (Optional) Adverbs which is based on an idea by the inventive poet Adrian Mitchell. Here is an example:
15 COMMANDS WITH (OPTIONAL) ADVERBS
Tackle that (drearily) running footballer
Spin out a (sleepily) woven thread
Hold on to your (sarcastically) fleeing bird
Strip this (beautifully) rotten chair leg
Eat the (mischievously) oozing sausage
Collapse that (sloppily) folding chair
Bandage his (caustically) running sore
Slide on the lake’s (hotly) frozen ice
Shout at the (splendidly) stupid dogs
Spice up the (outrageously) dull punch
Grip those (indignantly) turning wheels
Cultivate every (hurtfully) growing turnip
Spin on a (pointedly) unusual spot
Invigorate the (spasmodically) sleeping child
Flatten the (superficially) uneven soil
Writing the Poem
First stage: This is best done in pairs. Part of the fun of this exercise is the ‘accident’ and ‘surprise’ of creating lines that have unusual, often poetic meanings.
One person will be responsible for writing a set of commands, between 15 and 20. The second person will be responsible for matching these with a set of adverbs. You should keep these a secret from one another. A command is an instruction to do something. An adverb is a word that usually modifies a verb and sometimes an adjective or another adverb. Here are some examples of commands and adverbs:
Tackle that running footballer Drearily
Spin out a woven thread Sleepily
The command should begin with a verb and then either have another verb or an adjective to describe its subject:
Verb Adjective Subject
Collapse that folding chair
Verb Verb Subject
Grip those turning wheels
Most adverbs end in ly and it will be easiest and most interesting for your completed commands to look for these.
Final stage: When each person has completed their individual task, cut out the commands and the adverbs. Turn these face down on to the table. Then, by alternating between each pile, turn over a command and then an adverb. Each time this is done, write out your new command containing its ‘optional’ adverb. There should be some unusual and lively ideas produced by this random process!
Extension: You can alter this process by putting your adverb at the beginning of each command so that it qualifies the opening verb. Or you can produce two adverbs for each command:
Mischievously eat the oozing sausage
Hurtfully eat the indignantly oozing sausage