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IRxSL: Prompts for Collaboration

Have you heard? Indiana Review & Split Lip Magazine are partnering on an issue set to publish May 2019!

We are looking for collaborative work written by two or more authors or single-author work that seriously considers the theme of collaboration. Work by two or more authors can be about any topic, and we're looking for single-author work that considers collaboration in some way: multiple POVs, characters working together, first-person plural, creative use of voice in a story/poem/memoir etc.

Be creative. Take risks. Submit by October 31. And if you need help getting started, we've compiled some prompts:

Love Letters:

Split Lip poetry editor Marianne Chan says, "I love epistolary poems, especially when you can read both sides. This is a pretty obvious form of collaboration. A friend of mine and I wrote epistolary poems to one another over the course of a month or so, and it was interesting to see how the poems started sounding similar and taking ideas from one another. The overall result can be pretty interesting."

The New Yorker has some fantastic examples of epistolary poems.

Syllable Count:

Poet #1, Poet #2, Poet #3 all write individual poems. Poet #1 gives her poem to Poet #2, Poet #2 gives her poem to Poet #3, and Poet #3 gives her poem to Poet #1. Each poet should count the syllables in each line in the poem they’ve just received. Then, the poet should write a poem with the same line-by-line syllable count. Then, they do another rotation. This continues on until it is no longer generative.


Write something with someone you hate.


Write a poem and ask a collaborator to translate it into a different language (using their own language skills or Google translate). If you know the language to which the poem has been translated, use the translated poem to translate it back to English. If you don’t know the language, “translate” the poem based on how the words sound and your assumptions about what those words mean. For example, you may see the word “pastel,” which is cake in Spanish. If you don’t know Spanish, you might translate this word into “pastel,” which is a soft shade of a color. These mistranslations can make for some interesting images.


Write a poem in response to visual art. You can take the synesthesia further by writing a poem in response to a food/recipe or a musical piece.

Collaborate with a Machine:

Create poetic constraints around the actions of a machine. For example, you can set an alarm for one minute, and each time it goes off, you have to break a line. Another idea, you write a poem with 37 lines and number them. Play roulette at a casino or on your computer with these lines. When the little ball on the roulette wheel lands on a specific number, take the corresponding line from the poem and create a new poem.

Circle Time:

Set up several different books of poetry on a table. Set up a timer for one minute. Flip through pages, writing down the first word you see on each page. After your minute is up, write a poem or story inspired by or in response to that collection of words.

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