Chameleon Challenge: Music

The Chameleon Challenge is back! Though Lent term is always busy, find a little interlude to pen a song or two. Spend a minute on a miniature minuet. Or refrain not from a worded rhapsody. Interweave music in prose and drama. Improvise, compose, sound out, sing!
Our favourite submissions go on the blog, and will be included in our end-of-year anthology. Send us your work by the 13th of March. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be interesting!
Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory—
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
   Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.
                                     Percy Bysshe Shelley

A Modernist Poem

Hello! Here is our (very late) favourite from our ‘Chaos’ challenge! Congratulations to Mathilde Sergent for her brilliant poem – keep your eye out for more prompts coming soon!

A Modernist Poem

        AND NOW for the next item on our list:
a gavel-sounding brand new nineteen-twenties motorcar, off whose gleaming countertop
light slides like moonshine—lambent, the reflection of teeth in a store window: value
for thought, to dip in the sharp-edged end of your auctioneer-friendly shopping cart. THINGS ARE CHANGING. Things are changing: waves are rising crested with adamantium, heaving tsunami roars, they are proving
that a wave is a wave is a wave is a parcel of rain and whole ocean alike. That a wave
is the sea in motion and does not lie down
unless asked with a flutter of the hand, flattered, soothed, petted, to part and peal open
for any counterfeit Moses.In fact the quashing crush of silver-lined waverush is left unnamed, just as the female bliss. It is a mystery borne from fear.
Blue-feathered Como, on the other… will name you ’till there is no meaning left to be named after, ’till you are subsumed in its labeling fury; staking

with sticky notes and striking nails the tail of a Latin sort of dignity: heterochromia iridium, you are an unequal bloom, doña of the Lario. (A wave repeats itself; a wave’s fold is not surrender.)
Isola Bella, despite her name not a fair once princess, but present in the very earth, will under the guise of civility
pin to the chiseled stone its whole array of butterflies, robust hydrangeas, nerium oleander shrinking, envying our European laurels their pale and poisonous beauty: what competition do they serve for the orgastic feast?With his fist
                       he broke a large mirror; anger cracked like a whip, unsubstantiated—in
one man— the defeat of all things that shatter, brittle crystals, mole mounds, church turrets and ziggurats; no coats of rare shrinking flowers, rather
bones— more things which like beauty do not bear to be reassembled, sellotape-stuck, soothingly churned back to health, only put away
for lack of comparison when more things are made in their image. Isabella I’ll take for a swing; dancing through the rubble
compares to the whip-lash of hard seascapes against the mountaintops, cracking with a lover’s slap —bam!—, scratching the coast’s red beard, eating dust until its song is hoarse:
things, calls the wave, we sell

The climb is paramount so priciest, although we imagine you will enjoy being dizzied, washed
flushed lilac by the stone-breathing air;

wilderness being always the sea in hiding.


Chaos & Control

Nothing explores the exchange between the chaos of this world and the controlling force of art more cleverly than a good found poem – that is, words said by one person in a different context, arranged by another person into verse without altering the words themselves.

In one sense, the artist gives up control, allowing random patterns to take over. In another sense, control is everything, in a poem made by selection rather than by “inspiration” (see Chaos & Creation ).

Check out this found poetry blog for tips on how to find your own new writing, or see below for a poem made of baseball commentary (Hart Seely and Tom Peyer’s found poem, made of Phil Rizzuto’s baseball commentary on the accidental death of Yankees catcher Thurmon Munson).

The Man in the Moon

The Yankees have had a traumatic four days.
Actually five days.
That terrible crash with Thurman Munson.
To go through all that agony,
And then today,
You and I along with the rest of the team
Flew to Canton for the services,
And the family…
Very upset.

You know, it might,
It might sound a little corny.
But we have the most beautiful full moon tonight.
And the crowd,
Enjoying whatever is going on right now.
They say it might sound corny,
But to me it’s like some kind of a,
Like an omen.

Both the moon and Thurman Munson,
Both ascending up into heaven.
I just can’t get it out of my mind.
I just saw the full moon,
And it just reminded me of Thurman Munson,
And that’s it.


In keeping with the theme, we’ve unexpectedly created both an extension (until next week, midnight, 2nd Dec) for you to send in your writing inspired by the theme of chaos to Get scribbling!



Chaos & Destruction

Culture Block 2: ShakespearexPicasso
The violence of emotion, more complex than fear and pity, is here evident from the scale of the human heart to the scale of war.
Converted into artwork, chaos, though formally represented, retains some of its incomprehensibility, in which lies the sublime.
What are the ethics of applying the word sublime to pain? indeed, to real pain?
Exhibit 1
                                       “And when I love thee not
Chaos is come again.”
                                               Othello (III.iii.91-92)
Exhibit 2
Picasso, Guernica

Chaos & Creation

Culture block: like colour blocking in fashion, except with cultural artefacts (yes I did just make something up).

Is chaos to be calibrated? controlled? contained?

Or is it the unconscious of the world at large,  by definition unaccessible?

Religious texts around the world begin with creation and end with destruction (where does the difference lie?)

The Alpha and the Omega. Letters are the atoms of our minds, which enable and put a limit to thought.

Exhibit 1

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” Nietzsche

Exhibit 2


William Blake, Europe a Prophecy

Thoughts on: CHAOS

This is the fifth time I’ve started this post. I’ve been trying to write something eloquent about the nature of chaos, how it fuels and inspires us, a creative force like no other that defies the monotony of order and creates a passion that no amount of planning or studying could ever match.

Yet as I started I realised that this is entirely untrue, and would be utterly insincere and false of me to write. Chaos is terrifying. At Cambridge, where we are told to inspire, to look outside the box, to find something beyond the remit of the mundane, we still feel horror at stepping outside the reading list, waiting beyond the deadline to submit, contradicting the ideas of a dead white man apparently infinitely more qualified than yourself. But why?

Chaos is something out of our control, not receptive to moderation, a state of utter confusion and disorder and so entirely separate from the world of deadlines and criteria and meetings that most of us live in. Perhaps, however, it’s time that we learnt to embrace it. Finding order in disorder, meaning in absurdity, is a cliché, but it works for a reason. Sitting down and writing about the merits of disorganisation, the merits of chaos, seems absurd when I am rushing to get reading done, separate out my deadlines and prepare for a job interview – yet this is precisely why this is so important.

University is a world of chaos masquerading under the guise of order, and we need to stop for a moment – to look around and recognise that to hide from this chaos is to deny its existence. Ignore the ordered thoughts of the dead white man and embrace your own. Use them to their fullest – no matter how terrifying it seems.

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

(P.S Still lots of time to submit – get using chaos!)


If you’ve been wondering why Chameleon’s been a little quiet recently, all we can say is that Tara and Rachel’s lives have become just a little CHAOTIC since starting third year. So, for our first challenge, we’d like you to help us understand this better… and the theme is…


Take this any way you like as always. We want to see chaos theory, chaotic imagery, controlled chaos, chaos in form or rhyme or argument…

We’ll be sending out prompts now and then over the next three weeks to get you thinking. You have until midnight on November 28th to get your writing (any form, any length, any number of submissions) to We’re happy to look at work in progress, it’s all quite informal, and our favourites are guaranteed publication in our anthology at the end of the year! You have nothing to lose, so get scribbling!