Poetry Challenge #39


When I think back on all the @#$! I learned in college, a disturbing experiment I learned about in PR 101 floats up: Subliminal Advertising. (Okay, yes, maybe it came to mind because I’m feeling a tad guilty and extremely bloated after devouring by the fistful more than my half of the movie popcorn last night.)

Short History Lesson: This idea of Subliminal Advertising came from a 1957 study by James Vicary, a market researcher who inserted the words “Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coca-Cola” into a movie. “The words appeared for a single frame, allegedly long enough for the subconscious to pick up, but too short for the viewer to be aware of it.

The subliminal ads supposedly created an 18.1% increase in Coke sales and a 57.8% increase in popcorn sales.” As noted in this 2011 article from Business Insider, the results Vicary reported were falsified. But the idea of Subliminal Advertising, that images and words can and do subconsciously influence us, is widely regarded as true. Assuming it is, let the mind-bending commence:

Begin with some Words of Wisdom: select a quotation or adage from a book, the wall, or the Internet—or make up your own. For example:

“The Chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”—Pablo Picasso.
”All cats look grey at night”—Ben Franklin
”The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”—Steve Jobs

Now, in a blatant effort to subliminally impact readers—and maybe ourselves—let’s hide those words of wisdom within the body of the poem. The trick is to insert the kernels of “wisdom” so deftly your reader doesn’t notice them. How?

Take out an unused piece of paper.

Working top to bottom, write the quotation down the center of the paper—one word to a line. As we are not creating an Acrostic poem, vary the position of the word on the lines.
Now write a poem around the words, thus “hiding” your message in a poem. That’s it!

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*Kelly Bennett and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge over 800 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem. Scroll down and click on the comments!