Saturday, March 16, 2013

Punct This!

I am mystified by the fact that I'm writing a poem using unconventional punctuation. I started out trying to use bullet points but they looked too dark and maybe too orderly. I knew I wanted to write this poem when my sister sent me the Open Culture posting of rare film footage of a number of authors. The Mark Twain film really set me off in that good I-have-to-write-a-poem-about-this way. The poem seems to be a prose poem with no line breaks, but yes stanza breaks. And I had just stopped writing prose poems!

Ten years ago, I would not have fooled around with marks this way. I used to crack down on the ampersand when my students used it! It was all about the language. I still do think it's all about the language. But white space and punctuation have become more meaningful to me, more speaking.(Although that doesn't mean I can tell you why these marks seem important to this poem.)

I find it a little zany that I can move back and forth between styles from week to week, but there's more than one way to write a poem. If I were going to put my finger on the cause of my present flexibility, I think it might be my MFA experience. I went into the MFA already writing competent poems. And the MFA took me and shook me and stretched me and threw me in the creek and hung me to dry in a tree and said read read read and write many poems in this short time. Good results.