Explore the glossary of poetic terms.
From the Latin word for “patchwork,” the cento (or collage poem) is a poetic form composed entirely of lines from poems by other poets.
More about the Cento Form
Early examples can be found in the work of Homer and Virgil.
Modern centos are often witty, creating irony or humor from the juxtaposition of images and ideas. Two examples of contemporary centos are “The Dong with the Luminous Nose,” by John Ashbery and Peter Gizzi’s “Ode: Salute to the New York School.” Ashbery’s cento takes its title from the poem of the same name by Edward Lear and weaves together an unlikely array of voices, including Gerard Manley Hopkins, T. S. Eliot, and Lord Byron. Gizzi employed the form to create a collage of voices, as well as a bibliography, from the New York School poets.