We all know how to do things. Some of us know how to bake bread. Others know how to ride a horse. And there are people who know how to take the subway. Thus, if someone asks us, we are usually able to explain how to do these things. Conversely we can all listen and learn how to do new things.
That's what a ‘how-to’ poem does. It explains the different steps involved in doing something. The difference is that we use our imaginations more and tackle topics that are not as practical as riding a bike or making jam.
In the how-to poem the poet assumes the voice of the instructor, the guru or even the philosopher. Subjects and styles are limitless. They range from practical advice for the way to cook the perfect pasta to how to speak in riddles, end cyberbullying or let go of grief.
How to Make a Dadaist Poem
To make a Dadaist poem:
• Take a newspaper.
• Take a pair of scissors.
• Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
• Cut out the article.
• Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.
• Shake it gently.
• Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
• Copy conscientiously.
• The poem will be like you.
• And here are you a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.
Tract by William Carlos Williams can also be considered a ‘how-to’ poem.
So today I’d like you to write a ‘how-to’ poem. The tone and intention of your poem are yours. What you write can be serious or lighthearted, genuinely helpful or even intentionally misleading.
After writing your poem, post your link below. And in the spirit of community, visit others as well.