Weekend Writing Workout – Fragments

portrait collage by Ofer Wolberger

During my office Inner Sanctum of Awesomeness renovation, I’ve been unearthing some old material.

Yesterday I ran across several sets of “fragment poems” I had written almost 20 years ago.

One set was based on pictures I cut out of a magazine. One was cut ups from a dream journal. One was (I kid you not) based on things I read about cows.

*YOUR WEEKEND WORKOUT: come up with a fragment series!

You can make fragment cut ups from books, magazines, and journals. You can write fragments as a ritual (i.e. write one every time you open the refrigerator or every time you look in the mirror all weekend.). You can take titles of pictures or books or films or songs and write fragments using only the words from those titles.

The only rule is that they must be “fragments.” Fragments are disembodied ideas and phrases. They are not attached to any beginning or end. I write them primarily on gut instinct, something about the words/phrases sticks out. There is no narrative – but the mind tends to fill in the gaps with meaning (even if there was no intended meaning, just interesting sounds).

My favourite way to write fragments is to pull lines from multiple sources and intuitively arrange/collage them into a series.

The fragment series below is a “collated narrative” – which is when you spontaneously collage several sources at once, usually using different senses. In this case I was listening to a radio interview while I pulled out lines from a journal and a newspaper article. When putting it together, a sense of rightness and meaning emerged.

Reading Lessons

“I really believe you’d find _______ in growing corn” (racism)


We embraced
so immediately like a
one-trick pony
implicates racism


You have been lying, forging it
all for me


I want you to help me
I want to go backwards


sure on this side of the fence you are
in charge
sure I murder the majority


Through the code a path
against belligerence
perhaps there is another side


You are trained
I am wide


Denied contempt
uttering excited utterings
they beat you


If you knocked
would you move me?


In filling this place
I come across novelty
a movement in the sphere


Compare this:
“That’s not the point”
“That has nothing to do with it”


I could make
some gesture
with this hand


Attributed to the killing (verb):
noiselessly extended can’t
stand to sit still
you’re an escapist


I mean let me ask you something –
is murder where you draw the line?

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

*I used to post Weekend Writing Workouts regularly on my original Accidental Novelist blog but have gotten out of the habit. I’m going to get back into the habit, but haven’t decided if they will be poetry or prose based. Or a combination.


  1. happyflowerwordzoo002
    Aug 6, 2010

    What a wonderful idea. I shall be on lookout for fragments throughout tomorrow afternoon/evening’s shopping errands. Am intrigued at what I might find. Have a great weekend. Thanks for post.

  2. Please do share your poem or link. Would be interested to see what you come up with. Thanks for popping in.

  3. Patrice Lynne Young
    Aug 6, 2010

    Juxtaposing fragments like a crazy quilt, you get the surprise of the unexpected – one of the keys to great poetry…

  4. yes. a poem should surprise you. one of the pleasures of writing one, too.

  5. C. Lee McKenzie
    Aug 8, 2010

    the gold fever has past but left
    buried treasures in the artifact of men’s labor
    the fine stitches knitting together scraps
    quilts for warmth against cold winters

    I’m not sure this is poetry, but it really is a collection of fragmented notes I must have made for a story.

  6. Tina
    Aug 8, 2010


    Thanks for this reminder. One of my best loved poems (and won an award) came out of your Poetry Bootcamp workshop and was created using fragments and a household item, in this case a corkscrew. Ever since I have kept a running list of Fragments on my hard drive. I pull from it frequently. I am convinced that what might appear as a random thought has a connection in the larger world and will find a home eventually. T.

  7. @Lee – that’s most certainly a poem! I’d call that a “found poem” – something unintentionally poetic. I’ve come across poems in the marques of movie theatres when reading the titles of the films.

    I love finding scraps of things like this in my notes.

  8. @Tina

    Bravo for being so diligent with your fragments. Mine are more scattered than that. Thank YOU for reminding me. I haven’t used that exercise in a while.

    I agree about the connections. What we notice is attached to our larger, deeper view of the world. Oftentimes we don’t see it, but my logic is that it wouldn’t call to us if it wasn’t connected somehow.

  9. Jan Markley
    Aug 8, 2010

    I love that you relocated them! Can’t wait to see what the renovated space looks like. I imagine a cozy den/cave writing space!

  10. Laurel Lyons
    Aug 11, 2010

    I love the jar of spiders …

  11. yeah, me, too. i mean, it’s a JAR of SPIDERS! What’s not to love!

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