For the last decade I’ve attended an annual writer’s retreat by the ocean in Northern California where I gather with friends for inspiration, laughs, and writing. Each year, a friend, author, and artist I admire hosts a Paint Chip Poetry session. We dig into a pile of paint chips (you know those paper strips of paint colors from the hardware store) and write a poem in ten minutes based on a given prompt and the names of the chosen colors (unseen until timer starts).
It’s great fun to see the variety of poems written by the group from the same words! Some poems are funny, some sad, some thoughtful. I always feel a bit of pressure to write a poem when I’m racing against the clock, but it’s all in fun and it’s okay if you come up blank once in a while. Here’s a couple of my poems from past Paint Chip Poetry sessions.
Paint chip color names
- pansy petal
- brushed orange
- shrinking violet
- great grape
- sea mist
- state court
- good luck charm
The first minute or so, you read the colors, gather your thoughts, and start writing, so you only have maybe eight minutes to write the poem. It’s fast-paced and fun! Go ahead and adjust the time limit to your group’s preference. You can’t use part of a color name, but you can split the words if you use them side by side (for example, if your color is Great Grape, you can write: The ice cream was great. Grape is my favorite flavor). Try to use as many of the color words as you can in the time allowed.
I was able to write this poem before the timer went off using nine of the ten colors. No prompt was given this time around. I’ve put the paint chip colors in all CAPS:
SHRINKING VIOLET stood on the STATE COURT steps. The SEINE was not GREAT. GRAPE BRUSHED ORANGE hues streaked across the sky. She drew a deep breath and climbed toward her destiny. The wilted PANSY PETAL tucked inside her sweaty palm—it was her GOOD LUCK CHARM. YARROW vs. PALOOZA, she was going to need all the luck she could get! ©Danna Smith at poetrypop.com
Here’s one more
For this poem, we were given the prompt, my life has changed since, which we were required to use within the poem. I used eight of my ten color words.
- meadow view
- My valentine
- winter sunshine
- brandy cream
- hillside green
- pan for gold
- mother earth
- sassy lilac
My love and I spent our first year in MEADOW VIEW in the WINTER SUNSHINE. We would dig through MOTHER EARTH, PAN FOR GOLD, and be the richest couple this side of SEAGROVE. Every morning before we went to work, we'd sit on the HILLSIDE. GREEN tea in our cups laced with BRANDY CREAM and we'd share our dreams. But that was last year. I'm digging alone now. My life has changed since MY VALENTINE was buried in the mine, crushed by our dreams. ©Danna Smith at poetrypop.com
now in stores
Poets and teachers worldwide have used this creative technique in their writing for decades, so I wasn’t surprised to find a new game that Chronical Books had released called…you guessed it, Paint Chip Poetry. It’s the same game we’ve played forever. Only it’s in a colorful, compact kit with everything you need, including paint chips and prompts. As a friend said, “I can hear the hardware stores sighing with relief,” with this game on the market, perhaps their paint chip supply will not need to be replenished as often. 🙂
thanks for popping in
Feel free to comment below or use my lists of paint chip colors to write a poem and share it with us (scroll way down past the share buttons). Poetry is better when shared! You can also find paint chip colors online at most paint or home improvement store websites. For those of you who would like to share or comment anonymously, I’ve created settings to allow you to do so. Simply reply without signing into your WordPress account.
Join the blog for a weekly pop of poetry. Next week we will be talking about FOUND poems and I will share poem I wrote from words found in a book about flowers— a poem for your creative souls. Stay tuned!
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