Poetry Friday: Dice

Poetry DiceI don’t have an actual poem to share today, but after Gen Con last week I’ve been thinking about random poetry. I’m weirdly drawn to the dice with letters on them, although I’ve never bought any because I can’t think of an actual use for them (writing letter by random letter sounds way more painful than even I’m willing to put up with) and I haven’t seen a 26-sided die with all the letters (there’s not really a 26-sided platonic solid), so it would involve multiple dice and some kind of system for deciding which die to go with at any given time anyway. Not really the stuff of fun random poetry building. But the *idea* of building random from poetry from dice is still pretty cool. So I went looking to see if anyone had come up with anything interesting along those lines.

What I found was this very intriguing project. Basically, the poet listened to the sounds of the numbers from 1-102 (because dice roll numbers, not letters or words) and chose words or very short phrases that sounded like those numbers. So “fifty” becomes “thrifty” and “sixty-two” becomes “coochy-coo”. Then you roll the dice to see what combination of number/words you come up with and arrange them as you please! Isn’t that creative and interesting? I thought so. I also thought it would be fun to try picking my own words for numbers and making my own set. I think it would be even more interesting to do something like this with a group of kids. It gets them to listen to sounds and experiment with language while having silly fun. You could even get blank dice (they sell them in various sizes and colors, but I’d go with white ones maybe an inch or larger on a side to make it easier to read what you write on them) and actually make your own! I think it would be fun, anyway.

I’m sure everyone else has great poetry today, so go check it out! The round-up is over at The Book Mine Set! Check it out!

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  1. Elizabeth Z. said,

    August 24, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Although there are sets of d6 available, and 20-sided ones (WHY?), the real answer is “30-sided”, like this: http://www.planet.eon.net/~boxcars/prdts2.htm

    There are also dice with words, but generally dull ones.

  2. Katie said,

    August 24, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    20-sided dice are for games like Dungeons and Dragons. They are extremely useful. 30-sided dice are actually generally considered something of a joke in gaming and thus hard to find, but might be good for a project like this. The problem would be that the sides are almost always too small to write on. It’s also slightly more difficult and expensive to find other blank standard gaming dice (d4, d8, d10, d12, and d20) than it is to find blank d6s, especially in larger more word-friendly sizes. Chessex is a big dice company that makes a huge variety and I know they do sell decently sized blank ones in a variety of sizes and shapes (probably not d30s though, since nobody actually uses those). There are 100-sided dice as well, but, again, they have really tiny sides that are hard to write on. d20s come really big, although I’m not sure if you can get big blank ones (I would assume someone is selling them, though) and that might work too.

    For a poetry project, though, it seems like a bunch of d6s would be great because then you roll all of them and end up with a variety of words to use at the end. d4s might be even better and are easy to write on too. As for letters of the alphabet, I’ve just worked out a way of combining other dice to randomly roll a number from 1-26 and translated that to a letter when I wanted to. I just think a d26 with letters would be cool, if it were possible in a non-stupid way (which I don’t think it really is or some educational games publisher would have made it by now).

  3. John Mutford said,

    August 25, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Sort of like Poetry Meets Inkblots, isn’t it? Interesting idea for sure. I wonder if a Scattergories die could be used somehow too…

  4. Eva said,

    August 27, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Assuming you came up with a good system for generating the random letters from die rolls (I’m thinking a d20 and a d8 should do it), you might consider using the letters as a more indirect suggestion.

    For example, you could roll two letters pick a word that contains both of them and write a poem about that topic. Alternately, you could roll a few more letters and write a poem where each line starts with a rolled letter (for optimal challenge, they should be in the order you rolled ;) .

    It also crosses my mind that using boggle dice or just drawing scrabble tiles from a bag might be a good source of random letters that are more balanced towards letters that are common/easy to use in English.

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