Ten Titles, joined together

bookshelf poem

Upon this gaudy night, against the odds,
a woman of no persuasion, not young
nor beautiful nor wise, wins the diamond.
Age death and misfortune are blind to
the prisoner of grace as she dreams
and ghosts through invisible cities, cold
and near and twelve fair kingdoms  far.
Tortuga   soup and bread sustain her.
When the jewel slips away
she will again have wine.

for: Poetry Tow Truck #6: Lean on Me

Poetry Tow Truck #6: Lean on Me

Not me, literally. Your bookshelf.

Well, not literally your bookshelf, either.

Today’s exercise leans on some of our most prized possessions to help us draft. Take a look at your bookshelf (or the stack next to your bed…or next to your couch…you get the idea). Write down six to ten titles.

Make your choices carefully – titles that are evocative but not too specific work best. For instance, right now, I am looking at Susan Messer’s Grand River and Joy – that would be a good choice. I am also looking at New and Selected Poems by Stephen Dunn. Wonderful book, but not a good title choice for our exercise.

Try to incorporate the titles into a poem draft. If you need to change the form or tense of a word, feel free. As with the iPod exercise we did in January, you can challenge yourself to keep the phrases intact, or you can use the words individually, making the titles more of a word bank.

My titles were
soup  and  bread –Crescent Dragonwagon
twelve fair kingdoms –Suzette Haden Elgin
invisible cities –Italo Calvino
prisoner of grace –Joyce Cary
dreams and ghosts –Andrew Lang
against the odds –Elizabeth Moon
gaudy night –Dorothy Sayers
the diamond age –Neal Stephenson
persuasion –Jane Austen
far tortuga –Peter Matthiessen



  1. That would be those decades of reading fantasy. I think my favorites turned out to be “Persuasion” and the Andrew Lang “Dreams and Ghosts”. “The Diamond Age” and “Far Tortuga” were toughies.

  2. I love “Persuasion” even if the memory is foggy. I’m planning to read “Northanger Abbey” as soon I’m done with my current novel. Oh Austen!
    This reads like a terrific story, b.

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