Workshop: Chance Operations in Poetry

July 18, 2020 9am-3pm (lunch 12-1) Location: Main Ave, Park Rapids, MN Leader: LouAnn Muhm Suitable for Poets at all levels of experience $150

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Often, our poems come out of some kind of emotional extreme. When we are suffering, or joyous, or overcome with feeling, the ideas tend to flow. But what do we write when we are not in a heightened emotional state? How do we launch a poem that does not launch itself? Chance operations can jolt our brains into thinking creatively and start a poem rolling! Wondering what a chance operation is?

According to, “Chance operations are methods of generating poetry independent of the author’s will. A chance operation can be almost anything from throwing darts and rolling dice, to the ancient Chinese divination method, I-Ching, and even sophisticated computer programs. Most poems created by chance operations use some original text as their source, be it the newspaper, an encyclopedia, or a famous work of literature. The purpose of such a practice is to play against the poet’s intentions and ego, while creating unusual syntax and images. The resulting poems allow the reader to take part in producing meaning from the work.”

In this workshop, we will generate poem drafts using a variety of chance operations. Participants will have the option (but not the requirement) of sharing results with the group, and will leave with several starts for new poems, as well as some new tools for inspiring ideas when the muse is being uncooperative.

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