“A Lullaby Patchwork Quilt” [cento poem]

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Abditory Literary Magazine has recently published two of my poems, “A Lullaby Patchwork Quilt,” and “After I Close a Beloved Book.” Today I’ll focus on the first poem, “A Lullaby Patchwork Quilt:”

Do any of the lines sound familiar? That’s because “A Lullaby Patchwork Quilt” is a cento poem, which means every line in the poem is a “patch” from an earlier poem. In this case, each line comes from an older lullaby in the public domain. I quilted these legacy patches together with the hopes I could make something simultaneously fresh and comforting.

Contemporary examples of cento poetry include “Without Choice” by Dana Levin, and the three “Ohio Centos” from Goldenrod by Maggie Smith.

How many of the original lullabies can you identify from my poem above? Do you have any particular memories associated with that lullaby? What new connotations, images, and/or emotions rise up in response to quilting older lines of poetry into a new poem?

Have you ever written a cento poem? If so, what was that like? I’d love to hear your thoughts on cento poetry!

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