What is (Soma)tics?
I recently came across a form of poetry writing exercises in one of my college classes called (Soma)tics. The point of these exercises, in very general terms, is to look at familiar things in abnormal ways. I won’t explain this concept in depth (in part because I’m not sure my words would do it justice), but if you wish to learn more about this increasingly popular form of writing exercise I’ve attached the link to a blog below that explains it in full.
While I found these exercises to be highly intriguing, many of them spanned the length of several days. Now I’m sure this is an amazing and in depth writing experience, but personally when I see an exercise that spans longer than an hour I’m usually too intimidated to even attempt it. In that vein, I decided to write my own (Soma)tics exercise. My goal was to create an exercise that got across the point of (Soma)tics but in a fun and quick exercise that you can easily do at home. Here is the result…
Take a dollar bill out of your wallet. Feel it with your fingers. What does it feel like? Rip a sheet of paper out of a notebook and compare textures. Why does money paper feel different from PAPER PAPER? Does it? Crumple up the paper until you can close your fingers around it. Now crumple up the DOLLAR. Did you actually do it? Why? WHY NOT? Think. Smooth both out on a table. Which one holds more creases? Examine each crease, take notes. What is each crease saying to you? What are the creases saying to each other? On the paper, take a colored marker and draw over the creases that speak to you. What color did you pick? A glaring red or maybe a pastel blue? Why that color? TAKE NOTES. Now do the same for the dollar. Or don’t. Do whatever your emotions are TELLING you to do. Did you draw on the dollar? Why? Why not? It’s just PAPER. Look at the paper and the dollar and think about what they are made out of. Take notes. Smell them. Do they smell different? Do they smell at all? Take that smell and think of it as a taste on your tongue. Can you taste it? If you smelled nothing then what does NOTHING taste like? Take notes. Now switch them in your mind. The paper is the dollar, the dollar is the paper. How does this change the meaning of the creases and the lines drawn in marker, TAKE NOTES. Now throw the paper in the garbage. But wait, the paper is the dollar and the dollar is the paper. Which did you throw out? Why? TAKE NOTES. Take the remaining dollar on your desk and rip it to pieces. It’s just PAPER after all. The paper that you crumpled into a ball, drew lines in marker on, and then transformed into a dollar with your mind. THINK. WHAT did you just rip up, a dollar, or paper? Now leave the paper (dollar) in the trash for the rest of the day. Did you leave it there? WHY? Why not? After all, this is just a suggestion and it’s just paper. Now go write a poem about PRIVILEGE.
If you try this exercise at home I would love to see the results and/or what you thought of the experience. If this exercise isn’t sparking your creativity, try writing your own (Soma)tic writing exercise. Look at other examples. Embrace the weird! Think outside of the box. If you do write your own exercise, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a possible feature on this page!