Ben’s Birthday

Act 1: Alliterative Definitions (w/ character & theme)

  1. Everyone writes a type of relation (one word like father, son, uncle, teacher, boss) on a small piece of paper. All of these go into a pile.
  2. Everyone writes an adjective that implies tension (e.g. violent, traitorous, manipulative, dying) on a small piece of paper. All of these go into a pile separate from the relation pile.
  3. Everyone draws one of each (one relation paper and one adjective paper). They hold onto these papers for the entire exercise, these are never traded. These are the focus of their pome. They write as though addressing or speaking of their relation directly. For example, if they draw uncle, the pomist writes the story, ‘My uncle…’ or something similarly intimate. This is their subject of the story. The narrator and the subject are the two main characters. The adjective they drew is their theme, tone, or quality of relationship. This is written on a large piece of paper that is kept throughout the night until performance.
  4. Every poet writes a 1-4 alliterative phrase on a small piece of paper and passes this small piece to the left (1st round: one to the left; 2nd: one to the right; 3rd: directly across from you; 4th: two to the right, etc.). This words on this small piece of paper are the start of the pome. If I drew the alliterative phrase, “Slimy sacrosanct saints,” I begin my pome, “Slimy sacrosanct saints:” adding the colon and writing a few sentences about my characters and theme, somehow engaging the content of this alliterative phrase. The next round another alliterative phrase is written and passed. So every line of this pome begins with an alliterative phrase. For example, if I drew ‘uncle’ and ‘manipulative’ I will write a line for every alliterative phrase I receive. It will look like this:

Slimy sacrosanct saints: my uncle is slimy but he suffers like a saint, but he only wants sympathy so he’ll inherit the most money.

Gangrenous gorilla: my uncle lost many of his limbs but he’s still arranging the family to his best advantage.

Maladapt Malapropos Magmar: my uncle was burned near a volcano on his trip to Hawaii when he was trying to outsmart me, making me feel bad about him so I’d massage oil into his wounds later.


Act 2: My Night at the Philosophy Museum

Each pomist was given a brief description of a philosophical idea typed up. They were asked to team up (two people to one idea) and design a county fair or carnival like attraction to express the idea. Write a pome to pitch the idea as a carny would, ‘Step right up,’ and explain to us the game and its significance to the idea as well as to our lives.


Act 3: Big Philosophical Questions—Exquisite Corpse

A modified exquisite corpse so you always see the preceding line, but no lines before it. An A-B pattern repeated. A: [big philosophical question, e.g. Is there a God?] B:


Act 4: The Treasures at Buckingham Palace

Every pomist thinks of one treasure they think Ben contributed to the world (for instance, Buckingham’s great smile) then they translate this (or veil it) into a treasure.

Categories Prompts

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