Recently I was told that I frequently use epigraphs. Very true. I use lines and phrases from other poets and writers and quotes from political figures, scientific researchers, historians and even random Twitter users. I also have been experimenting with centos—a poetry form that is composed entirely of lines from other poets. And I like ghost lines. An earlier blog post already explained ghost lines and used a prompt from Rachel McKibbens.
Why do I search for and use so many ghost lines and epigraphs? Using lines from other poets feels like sharing a conversation rather than simply borrowing. It is also a way to honor those poets whom I consider mentors and heroes. Politicians of course provide useful fodder for mockery. I seek out scientific abstracts and historical papers that can provide a deeper context or another layer to my poem as well as offer me a catalyst.
So, yes, let’s look at lines from other poets and discover where they can take us. This next ghost line prompt comes from the Poetry Lab’s “Night Madness” writing exercise and offers several lines from the the incredible Sandra Cisneros to choose from.