Thursday, October 25, 2012


Have I already mentioned I'm writing a series of poems? I have 7 (for sure), 1 maybe, 2 more which are as yet evanescent ideas. In an arbitrary way I am thinking there should be twelve. But maybe 14? Since one of my extremely evanescent ideas is to play around with the crown of sonnets idea but with poems that aren't sonnnets--using a line from each poem to assemble a new one. This is something I might really do or maybe it's a place holder for me while the real poem-to-come gathers its powers.

Fortunately, for me, I'm going to a lecture on poetics on Monday. This is exactly the kind of occasion that calls forth ideas (sometimes completely unrelated) and provokes a poem. The last poem I wrote was originated and half-concocted in a lecture by Bill Berkson called "Hands On/Hands Off." (Let me just say that I am always trying to pay attention, but sometimes I get called away.)

I've also planned some writing time on Saturday morning--more than just a list of ideas, please. Before that happens, I want to send out to a couple more journals (electronically, please) and decide where I'm sending my manuscript. I should have a list with deadlines for this.

My other office plan is to throw away some of the enormous quantities of paper that reside in columnar fashion on the floor. Of course, I have to look at all the sheets of paper in the course of doing this which is why I don't.

Have now looked up requirements of crown of sonnets and see that I'm only interested in writing the 15th heroic sonnet. But still am interested in the idea. All form is malleable after all or maybe mallet-able.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Grading Poems

This is a difficult thing.

Ideas of surprise, cliche, originality, even music are affected by how much one reads and, I guess, in what century. But if your instructor writes notes suggesting many changes and none are made--well? If your poems do not lift off the page, even a little, even like a chicken with clipped wings--well.

I realize it's paradoxical to say at the same time in the same conference make it longer and make it shorter--develop and delete, but people who have been practicing a while understand that there's so much chaff that drifts out of our figurative poetic mouths. Let the great wind of revision blow those unnecessary, already understood-from-context words away.

Some of my students have made me happy by finally furnishing titles that are not labels. Some have purged but not opened wider. Some have not turned their portfolios in. Some have stopped centering the text. Some have not corrected the spelling errors. How much weight to be given to ambition?

What ends with a period does not have to be a sentence. Maybe there don't have to be any periods at all. When is a fragment too fragmentary? Answer this question with the body of the poem: How can the reader know what I know?Why are you stopping too soon?

The good news is that these are only midterm grades--short-term markers of how flexible and calisthenic are the poet/poems.

In other news, I'm thinking that there should be poetry flash mobs across the land. What poem would they recite in unison? Also, cogitating the idea of a group poem whose primary worth would be in sound and performance.