the endless prompt
September 21, 2015
Performance poet, teacher and author Taylor Mali has posted a 10-second video on his Facebook page, which may be inspiring as much for its form as its content, and which you can consider as a prompt even if you don’t do Facebook.
The video pictures a one-line poem written on a Möbius strip. That means the text of the poem is essentially a continuous loop, the end of the line feeding and reading back into its beginning. It’s a form that demands both intention and restraint.
You may need to experiment with the length of the strip you use, but, as a rough beginning, here’s how to proceed:
- Cut a half-inch-wide strip from a sheet of paper; either direction will do — 8.5 inches or 11 inches or whatever size paper you prefer.
- Write a line of text the full length of one side of the paper.
- Flip the paper (so that your first line of text is upside down on the reverse side) and continue writing your text. It can be one or more sentences, but the last word you write on side 2 will connect with the first word you wrote on side 1, so they should make some sense when connected.
- Pick up the strip, one end in each hand, and put a single twist in one end (so that the front is flipped to the back).
- Bring the two ends together and use a piece of tape to attach them.
- You should be able to read through the text you wrote on both sides of the paper as one continuous line.
- Now that you see how it works, try it again.
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