Solidarity—standing up for the people in your community—is the best way to demand change. Those in power will listen to a group of people more readily than they will listen to just one person. During the labor movements of the 1920s, American workers knew a change needed to happen in the work place. Before the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, children as young as six worked in factories. Before 1932, there were no official weekends. Before the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, employers could pay their employees whatever they wanted and would often take more for themselves. Entire workplaces stood up together and demanded change.
Solidarity is an act of care. It means working together as a community. Today we are going to explore an exercise in care and collaboration. Much like social movements, art comes from collaboration and community. The poetry exercise below is collaborative and is done with one other writer or several writers. It is called “Exquisite Corpse.” Grab a partner or multiple partners and let’s get writing!
DID YOU KNOW Exquisite Corpse is a poetry game invented by artists about a hundred years ago in Paris? It was invented a long time ago and is still popular to this day!
If in a group of people, form circle. If it is just two of you, sit across from one another.
Pick a member of the group to go first. This person writes a word on a sheet of paper and then folds their piece of paper over so that the word is no longer visible.
This person passes the folded paper over the person next to them.
Repeat this until everyone in the group has gone twice or until you have about eight words.
Unfold the paper and read the poem aloud! This poem might not make a lot of sense and that’s fine--poetry doesn’t have to make sense! If you would like to add in more words and turn the poem into a story go right ahead. It can be helpful to grab an adult who can help you add in different parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, verbs, and more) that will make the story come alive.
Read the poem or story again. Do you notice how writing with other people makes for an exciting poem? Our friends and family come up with words we may never have thought of, giving the poem surprise and creativity! Feel free to do this activity as many times as you’d like.