Write a Like Starlings Poem with poet and editor Caleb Klaces


Caleb Klaces is founder and editor of Like Starlings, a website where poets write a sequence of new poems by responding to one another in turn. Poet 1 writes a poem and then poet 2 writes a poem back again, until they have sequence of poems. The site has been a great success with a mix of established poets and new voices taking part in poetry conversations.

Here you have the chance to write your own response poem as a Like Starlings poet. Read Caleb’s poem “Else” and write your own poem back.


It’s true again: we just keep shedding
nails and skin and in time everything.
Between now and then I throw out bread
to become seagulls in the garden;
people take the wrapper to the city’s
brim and put it in a hole. It seeps.

My room thickens. Skin foams the floor,
along with rolling waves of pencils,
drifting hair. When a washing machine
chokes down dead me from socks
some goes I’d like to think to sea,
exceeds to cloud and back again

and back again. The noise chases the shake
of the machine, which runs ahead, overflowing,
I wake and stop the alarm. Walls shed
the sound of scratching birds and mice.
Slung above the bed the web had been
a secret, spilled by a spider’s abdomen.

Must be a relief to get that out.
I tell my unhappy little sister to write
things down, get them off her chest,
though nothing will keep her body quiet, yet,
nor stop one thing becoming another,
ever: bliss and everything else.

Here are some examples written by YPN members:

Burning by Emma Warren
Somewhere by Beth Jellicoe
Where by Sherrie Talgeri
Home by Alister MacQuarrie
Here by Helen Zhou

If you’ve tried this challenge and written a poem you’d like to submit somewhere, why not have a look at the Poetry Opportunities Page and see if there’s anywhere that you like the look of.

Caleb KlacesOriginally from Birmingham, UK, Caleb Klaces’ poetry and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in publications including Poetry, Poetry London, The Threepenny Review and Rain Taxi. He is the author of the poetry pamphlet All Safe All Well (Flarestack Poets, 2011) and editor of Likestarlings.com.

Published August, 2011

3 thoughts on “Write a Like Starlings Poem with poet and editor Caleb Klaces

  1. Hi Caleb – I took part in the Like Starlings project in the early days (2009). I was paired with Milorad Krystanovitch and wrote a number of poems in response to his. These poems are now being published in my new collection which is being published in September by Bloodaxe. I thought you might like to know this but also wanted to check how to credit the project. I was thinking “these poems (titles) were written as an online poetry conversation with Milorad Krystanovitch as part of the Like Starlings poetry project (2009). Is the project still live? Would you like me to include the website address?
    Best wishes

    1. Hi Suzanne,

      Thanks for your message – that’s really lovely to hear and congratulations on the publication! We’ll pass your message on to Caleb; are you happy for us to pass your email on to him?

      Best wishes,

      Helen at Young Poets Network

      1. Hi again Suzanne,

        Caleb has been back in touch with us and would like to say that your credit lines sound good to him; “The project stopped publishing new work in 2016 but the archive is still available at http://www.likestarlings.com. It’s always lovely to hear when Likestarlings poems find their way into books.”

        Thanks so much for getting in touch and letting us know, and congratulations again on the publication!

        Best wishes,


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