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Beat Poetry

a game for 2 or more players

This is a game which I originally developed as a competetive word game, but abandoned when it degenerated into bickering. Years later, I brought it back as a non-competetive game to be played with friends at coffee houses. It is better this way, and everyone who has played it has had a good time.

Decide who goes first in some way that is agreeable to all players. The first player picks a common phrase and says it aloud. The next player needs to say a phrase which begins with the end of that phrase. For instance, if the first player says "king of the hill", then the second player might say "Hill Street Blues".

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Play continues clockwise around the table, each player saying a phrase which begins with what the previous player added. It may begin with all of what the previous player added or only with the end of the addition. It cannot begin with any more than that, however. You can only use what the player just before you added.

What counts as an acceptable phrase is up to the other players. It need not be terribly common, but it should be something that other people have heard before.

You may change the ending of the previous phrase from plural to singular or vice versa, if you desire. You can also use homonyms and puns, upto the tolerance of other players. For instance, if the player before you picks a phrase that ends in "accountancy", you might say "sea salt". You have been left in a tought spot, and other players may understandably give you some lattitude.

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One player should act as the recorder, writing down a transcript of the game. She needn't carefully distinguish between moves. For the first two turns in the example above she need only write: "king of the hill street blues"

The game ends when someone says a phrase that ends where the first phrase began. Returning to our example, the game might end when someone said "long live the king". After the game, someone should read the transcript aloud. It is important that someone do this, since reading it aloud makes this the Beat Poetry Game rather than the Rambling Free Association Game. You may play the bongo drums before and after reading the poem if you like, but this isn't necessary.

The poems can variously be silly, random, and deep. They sometimes address particular themes despite themselves, when a phrase primes other players to use related phrases.

If you insist on keeping score, give each player one point every time they say a phrase which has a prime number of vowels in it. Give three points to the player with the coolest shoes, but subtract two if they start polishing or buffing their shoes during the game. Subtract two points from the score of any player who asks what their score is, four points if they do so while moping about how silly they think the game is. The player with the number of points closest to thirteen at the end of the game gets to be recorder for the next game.