Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why Did I Do It?

This past week I've written a poem in a strange form. It started out regular in a block of prose text, but then I decided to separate the phrasing into thumbnails in columns in a grid of white space. First, it was 3 columns, then 4. I played around with the question of how many thumbnails there should be. I had 15--should I have only 14 because that's the magic number for a small poem--calling all Shakespeares, calling all Petrarchs. But I think I've discussed my love/hate relationship with this idea before.

I had begun this strange shaping as a result of several subconscious influences, two of which I can identify. The first was a series of  Story Trope Bingo cards on Book Riot which offer plot points like "Dark Past" and "Someone Vomits."  The other influence was a picture I saw online of an art installation consisting of dozens of photos overlapping and ruffled like plumage, stuttering out an image. But for this particular poem, I settled on a grid from my past--the sliding tile puzzle, where disordered tiles are pushed around to spell a phrase. You could use your thumbs just like texting.

Should this kind of poem be subject or approach specific, if I considered a series? Should the title have 4 parts (like the 4 columns)? Is there any kind of suggestion in the poem that the parts really could be pushed around? Although the puzzles were only solved to 1 order as far as I know. But if we are not at least thinking about disorder, what is the point?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Making Lists (a Kind of Crochet)

I feel that I should follow my last post with "10 Things I Love About Writing," but I'm not feeling that exuberant today. Maybe because it's February. Maybe because I'm going to have to shovel snow later although usually after I get out there I kind of like it. So bright and impersonal and large.

Instead, I'm going to talk more about lists which I am always making in notebooks and on scraps of paper and now in Google Drive. Sometimes I never consult them again. They're a way of thinking through things. Here's some of my recent lists that had titles:
  • "Today"--this is on my Google Drive so that I can consult with it anywhere (ha) and includes random things I should do, the week ahead, and a little section on where I can shoehorn writing into my day.
  • "What I Do and Whether I Should"--you can tell I started this around the first of the year but sometimes it's useful to state why you do something on a regular basis. Things need to be examined. Although I do make a semi-impassioned defense of watching TV late in the evening having to do with the mushiness of my brain
  • "5 Things I Should Do in the next 5 Years But That I Might Not""--what does it mean that I could only come up with 1 thing that was relatively new?
  • "My Life But Better"--the first sentence says "What Are You Waiting For?" 
Side note: I'm very fond of the list in poetry. Last class, my students and I noticed and appreciated the list on line 4 of Kim Addonizio's "Onset": "Everywhere emergence: seed case, chrysalis, uterus, endless manufacturing." Unusual objects, replicating shapes, repetitive (in that plus plus way) sounds.