Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative poetry game that traces its roots to the Parisian Surrealist movement. Exquisite Corpse is played by several people, each of whom writes a word on a sheet of paper, folds the paper to conceal it, and passes it on to the next player for their contribution.
In order to write a poem, participants should agree on a sentence structure or line length beforehand. For example, each sentence in the poem could be structured “Adjective, Noun, Verb, Adjective, Noun.” Articles and verb tenses may be added later or adjusted after the poem has been written. The game was also adapted to drawing, where one participant would draw the head of a figure, the next the torso, etc. The name “Exquisite Corpse” comes from a line of poetry created using the technique: “The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine.”
The only hard and fast rule of Exquisite Corpse is that each participant is unaware of what the others have written, thus producing a surprising—and sometimes absurd—yet often beautiful poem. Exquisite Corpse is a great way to collaborate with other poets, and to free oneself from imaginative constraints or habits. Remember, many of the most effective phrases or metaphors are those that are most surprising.