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Friday, July 16, 2010



This week’s prompt, by guest maestro Nathan Landau
Recently I’ve become enamored with the concept of steganography, a form of ‘security through obscurity’ in which a secret message is sent via an innocuous medium –– an image, a letter –– and decoded using a method known only to sender and recipient. The beauty is in the message being truly hidden in plain sight.
(You can read all about the history and uses of steganography on the Wikipedia article
Steganography can be incorporated into writing in any number of ways, from specifically coded poems, to inside jokes and key words, to concealment of one concept within the conceit of another, but this week try keeping something in your poem hidden in plain sight. You can share your decoder ring with the other circus-goers if you please, or decide to keep the secret all to yourself and your recipient, it’s your call.
Alternatively, if secrecy isn’t your style, you could try and find the hidden in an already written poem: take your hand and place it vertically over half or three-quarters of a poem –– preferably one of your own pieces, though someone else’s works just as well (remember to credit the author!) –– and see if a hidden message leaps from the remaining uncovered line fragments.
Encoding or decoding, be sure to come back with your poems on Friday (and through the weekend) and let others in on the secret.
About our guest maestro
Every once in a while we’ll be sharing prompts offered by some of you, of our circus-goers. (Thanks for your generosity!)
This week’s prompt is Nathan Landau’s, who blogs at
Poems About Nothing in Particular and is currently studying creative writing at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. Be sure to stop by and visit his blog, okay?


The quest for knowledge begins

Expecting a manual
Received a sheet of A4
Handwritten, vague instructions

Take a digital device

Such as a calculator
Liquid Crystal display
Light Emitting Diode

Enter a number sequence

Viewed from revised perspective
Tree Of Knowledge is revealed
Once-forbidden fruit is served


The combination number

Three, seven, six, oh, oh, six
Inverted reveals a word
Familiar to us all