This little poem came out of an exercise in a poetry workshop run by Stephen Knight. Five random words were picked out of a hat and we had 10 minutes to write a two-stanza poem, one of the words per line. I rather liked the result: the point of the exercise being that sometimes we work better with constraints than without them.
or free verse galloping to the hounds, ideas so abstract,
sly turns of phrase, precise descriptions, felicitous haze. I wake with words crawling
refusing to battle
leading, coaxing, bullying more. Nothing
licks them into shape, so let them swarm gently, leaving agape,
Meaning, words drift asunder, while the Poet chases rainbows. It’s a perfect blunder!
This has been an interesting experiment of mathematical meter over at dVerse Poets. I wrote a rhyming and metered poem yesterday which I have now redone to fit a Pascal Triangle, that is, 1-3-6-10-15-21 syllables in each line. I am not sure it adds to the poetic experience (the rhymes have gone awry, of course, and I’ve had to lose or change words), but it’s all part of exercising the poetic muscle.
Unusually for me, a poem that rhymes, for the Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. Even more unusually, this is composed on the road, in a hotel room, while travelling on business. Finding words for poetry when you are in business mode is like digging for truffles with an ancient, half-blind pig with a severe head-cold.
Over at dVerse Poets Pub the poetic form for experimenting with today is erasure poetry. Here is what Anna Montgomery has to say about it:
Erasure poetry is a form of found poetry created by erasing words from an existing text in prose or verse and framing the result on the page as a poem. The results can be allowed to stand in situ or they can be arranged into lines and/or stanzas.
So here is my attempt at it, based on a poem I recently wrote about my name and how it looks on paper. Just about half of the words have been erased and I am amazed by how much tighter my poem now feels. Maybe that’s the way to go!
I hated my name as a child.
I craved glamour – Esmeralda was my weapon of choice.
And, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me share another poetic experiment with you. This was a poem I wrote as an answer to the question I posed in the previous post: Who lingers when all done is said? Version 1 is my first attempt: wordier, spelling out meaning. Version 2 is trying to take all of the superfluous padding out. Is there enough left there to convey the meaning? I’m not sure. Probably a mix of the two will be my final version.
This past weekend I had the rare pleasure and luxury of thinking of nothing else but words, writing and poetry. I attended a poetry workshop organised by the indefatigable Geneva Writers’ Group and our guest instructor was the vibrant, beautiful poet Aracelis Girmay. She invited us to play and experiment, to explore bewilderment and mysteries, to climb down the ladder of writing head-first.
It was the first full-length poetry workshop that I ever attended and, boy, did I need it! Poetry is an old love that I have only recently come back to, after many years of neglect. I am still struggling to shed the adolescent overcoat that lies over it (yes, it is that long ago since I wrote poetry). I have been writing a lot of it this year, but is it all therapeutical outpourings of infuriating sentimentality? I needed to push myself. I needed to learn to play, watch words appear and disappear. So here is an interesting experiment we conducted. Based on Bhanu Kapil‘s thought-provoking questions from her book ‘The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers’, we were asked to create our own questions about a subject that preoccupied us. I picked ‘Identity and Belonging’, and here are my questions (it’s not really a poem, more like a prompt to spark thinking):
Where do you come from?
Who helped make you what you are?
If not here, where?
How will you know when you get there?
What are you trying to prove?
When will you know and tell?
If not now, when?
What else are you?
What has not been mentioned before?
Why do you need to make the fragments whole?
Who lingers when all is said and done?
But then – and this is where it gets interesting – we had to reshape our questions, leave gaps and rearrange syntax. We were Isis finding all of the fragments of Osiris and trying to put them back together. And I was startled to find a much more powerful way of thinking hiding under my initial, conventional questions. Here is the outcome:
Where do you come from? Who helped make you?
What? You are? What else you are?
When you get there, will you know?
Will you know what you are trying?
When will you know and prove?
If not here, where from? If not now, how will you know?
Who lingers when all is said and done,
Who lingers when all done is said?
What do you think? Which version do you prefer? Is this an experiment that might be useful to your own writing? Can we change our way of thinking by changing the structure of our sentences? What does the lack of information, that frightening gap, tell us about ourselves?
On Poetry (beautifulrailwaybridgeofthesilverytay.wordpress.com)