In simple terms, a Collaborative poem is a poem that is constructed by two or more people. The poem can take any poetic form and can be approached in person (in close proximity), or over the phone, via chat or email (at a distance).
There are several types of Collaborative poem but the most popular are the following:
Chain: Poets write a single line which is then sent on to another poet who writes a single line, and so on.
Reflective: Poets choose a topic and write about it from opposing perspectives, resulting in at least two stanzas. An example being writing from a feminine and then a masculine perspective.
Tapestry: Poets write their own version of a poem on a given topic and then attempt to weave the poem into one cohesive work. Normally the poem will have a total of nine lines.
Switch: Poems switch authorship at a certain line, word, or stanza.
The form can have any number of stanzas and rhyming is optional. The theme is at the poets’ discretion. However, the goal of any Collaborative poem is that the work reads as a single cohesive piece of writing, and that the two (or more voices) ultimately create synergy, resulting in a stronger piece of writing than had it been written by a single author.
Collaborative poems are not new. They have a deep history in Japan, promoted by the aristocracy’s love of poetry, were a popular form during the Renaissance and there were a number of renowned collaborative collections in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. They are becoming increasingly popular in contemporary poetry writing and publishing due to the ease of access to other creatives and the speed at which the form can be exchanged and interchanged.
For more examples of poems written using this form search the hashtag #collaborativepoetry on Instagram, or visit our community here.