History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Poetry Forms: Cento

The cento is a fun poetry form to play with, because it’s all about borrowing lines from other poems and turning them into something new. It’s a form of found poetry, a bit like a patchwork quilt. It can be a fun way to mix together a handful of similarly themed poems, or to take two wildly different poems and make them work together!

Rhyme and meter generally aren’t important for a cento, though you could find lines with similar meter if you wanted to work within that stricture. Similarly, you could opt for lines that do rhyme with one another. But you can also just ignore these aspects of poetry, as they’re not required here!

When you’re using lines from other poems, it’s important to include credit to the original poets, of course. And there are some markets who aren’t big fans of centos because they are found poetry. But they can be a lot of fun to play around with, even if you’re not writing them for publication.

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