Sunday, January 27, 2008


i think i’m doing that thing again, where i use this blog to procrastinate. it’s not like my homework is all that crappy right now, just some reading and posting responses online. but this is so much more appealing at the moment.

classes are going well so far. martin has been substituting for my poetry professor while she’s sick, and that class has been a blast. the assignment for this monday was to generate a page of words that are not our own, from any source, and then use not but those words to write four lines in iambic pentameter. at first i was going to try to use overheard dialogue for the page, but that became less appealing when i started to think about how hard it is to hear very interesting words in regular speech. i mean, dialogue is great for those dialogue-poem exercises where you use the actual lines (and don’t have to write in form), but it wouldn’t work so well for this assignment. so instead i pulled a bunch of books off my bookshelves and took lines from lots of different poems and stories and books. after i put them all together i noticed certain lines kinda followed each other. like here:

“He sticks two shiny fingers into his mouth, sucking so hard his cheeks cave in. He waits the slow striptease of erosion with fossil loins. Then she began to pull her hair with both hands, dying with laughter, throwing the handfuls into the air with an incomprehensible jubilation until her head looked like a peeled coconut.”

and here:

“The water was the kind of dark silk that has silver lines shot through it when it is touched by the wind. Naked grandeur where there’s nothing else to gaze on. Germinal, exquisite, in delicate lace, microscopic, unborn. Musical and strange and perfumed.”

it even ended appropriately, with a line from jack kerouac that almost served as an explanation for all the random craziness: “Friday afternoon in the universe.” i’m not entirely pleased with my resulting stanza. he said it didn’t need to make sense, but i thought it would be really cool if i could make it make sense—much, much easier said than done. this really was a challenge. but i adore these kinds of challenges! like the pageless poem in intermediate poetry, damn that was fun. here’s what i came up with:

Offending love he looped the air and gave
a bitter pull—then backward silver doll
unborn, as wild erosion stoned the cave.
Exquisite pain, unholy, touched with salt.

the “unborn” might not look like it fits with the meter. that’s kind of a weird word. when i say it aloud it almost sounds like both syllables are equally stressed, but if i had to pick one or the other i’d say “un” is the more stressed. here’s how i’ve justified it: it’s meant to function as a verb in this poem. when i say it as a verb, which i know is not standard use, “born” becomes more stressed. whether or not anyone else would agree or even notice that, i’m not sure. my first attempt looked like this:

Perfumed enough, the naked fleet began
a bitter beam—the backward streamers face
unborn, with jubilation on the land.
Exquisite nothing, breathing, being lace.

which makes absolutely no sense, but the b’s and ee’s in the first two lines (and parts of the third and fourth) give it a fun beat. if i could have made those repeated sounds more uniform i wouldn’t have cared at all that it’s nonsense. oh well. it was a good start, and obviously i was able to use much of it in the subsequent incarnations that lead to my final piece.

1 comment:

Jodi said...

that's pretty awesome