Write inside out

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California-based poet Matthew Zapruder invites you to write from the inside out. Try it!


To start, find two short and simple lines to place at the center of the poem. Sometimes I like to open a book (I prefer non-fiction books for this kind of thing) and find a tight little phrase that gives me a little shiver of recognition, a series of words that I want to follow. You can also start with a short description of what you can see from where you’re sitting now, like “From the window / the alley” or “in the traffic / the rain.”
Now write a poem from the middle, or the inside, out, that is up and down, alternating lines, until you get to the first and last lines. In other words:

(eighth line)
(sixth line)
(fourth line)
(second line)-- in the traffic
(first line) -- the rain
(third line)
(fifth line)
(seventh line)

The poem should be at least 20 lines long.