Generating New Poems from Freewrites

Erica Goss

I’m a dedicated freewriter. I especially like that freewriting has roots in poet Jack Kerouac’s stream of consciousness,“spontaneous prose,”the Surrealist Movement’s“automatic writing,”and inYeat’s “trance-writing.”(Check out this videopoem by Helena Postigo, “I Think of Dean Moriarity.”)

My first introduction to freewriting was in a college English class in 1980. At first, I simply hated it. I stopped often, stumbled, stared at the clock, felt awkward, and concluded that freewriting was a huge waste of time. However, I had to turn in my daily freewrites as part of my grade, so, in spite of my resentment, I kept at it.

It got easier, and eventually I saw the value of this exercise: getting unfiltered, unedited and unpredictable ideas onto a piece of paper as fast as possible, before your left brain can take over and squelch your spontaneity.

Many, if not most, of my…

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