(no subject)

Not saying I'm starting to blog again. A dozen blogs dead. Including food and humanyms which I'll eventually get around to taking offline. I update every year or so.

Life changes: Moved out of Ottawa where I've lived or worked for 26 years. After swearing to never get another cat or car, we did both.

Emptied all The House. 3 bags of misc to sort still in car.

Preferentially hope shows up in turning to poetry to read but like like biology non-fiction better. Feel jaded for poetry. I've read too much.

Not writing. Organizing other people with various lit groups.

My salon series has no return date as who would truck out into the countryside? Really the market is saturated for readings and workshops.

Still chronic fatigue and chronic pain and anxiety disorder and topographagnosia cyclically knock me flat. Still, that said, in a better frame than I've been in a dozen years.

Did a year and 8 months braless which made lifetime shoulder, breast and back pain go away. Then switched briefly to binder but that just made the girls hurt again.

Henna-dyed my hair and gave myself a 2 day migraine from chem sensitivity. Shoulda known. Just need to accept the whitening. Or wear wigs but I pitched them all in the move. As well as, accidentally, all the sports stuff, volleyball net, volleyball, soccer ball, baseball glove and bat. Those must have been under some wood? The cleaners threw out everything, even the dis-attached handrail and the marble countertop remnant.

Let it go has been a mantra since dad died about 7 years ago and maybe I'm finally catching on.

Bri is knocking himself out building bookshelves and designing a shed, which may be built before snow.

I went to the doctor and he greeted me with, Whatja do to yourself?

This time the nerves in both arms for 2 months kinda buggered, unlike the last time when I fell off a dirt pile with 2x4 which I threw into the air as I felt. They landed across my back.

But much better now.

Tricks for Getting Around Your Own Mental Blocks

I had a few ideas going into the workshop about what to do to get past inner obstacles to make a spark. They are below. At the other blog is what the brainstorming and wisdom of crowds came up with.

So can't write, what to do?
Nothing to Say, Visualize...
….Immerse and float. Write "into inspiration" instead of "out of inspiration". Do visualizations: Picture a word and a scene where you felt the word. For example, safety, disinterested, eager. Use all senses, get into yourself...

Close your eyes mentally and discover what you smell, hear, taste?
What is the size of the space? Humidity? Temperature?
How do your muscles feel? How does your skin feel?
Is there cold or tension isolated in one part of you?
Finally look, what is straight ahead, to the sides, peripheries, behind you?
Scrap any comparisons. Write direct. Be present there. No future nor past.
~ writer's block from my own site in 2002 imagine the setting in detail

Set aside the correct and significant
....Try direct seeing of the smallest possible thing in the smallest possible detail. Think of the undergrad Robert Pirsig described who has inflexible filtering that let in too much. She was a contracted listener. She was committed to a large important canvas. She chose a broad topic and then got stumped. "She was blocked because she was trying to repeat, in her writing, things she had already heard." Don't avoid what has been said. Don't seek to reference what has. Don't plan where it is going or pace it. Just describe.

"She wasn't bluffing him, she really couldn't think of anything to say, and was upset by her inability to do as she was told.” [...]“’Narrow it down to the front of one building on the main street of Bozeman. The Opera House. Start with the upper left-hand brick.’ Her eyes, behind the thick-lensed glasses, opened wide.” - p. 170-171, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Disconnect culpability and identity's not you. Write in a character as different from what "you" would write or say as possible. Your evil twin. Your saintly twin. You if you were stupid. If Stuffy. If rude. If impossibly polite. If you were born as your irritating neighbour. Appropriate any voice and run it as long as you can. And/or swap about consistency when you tire of one, even if within phrase. Channel flip until something clicks. What would your pseudonym say?

No Time
- Speed write, push as much thru as possible for 5 minutes then cull
- Write short: twitter-length
- 5 word bio of this moment
- do a Fibonacci (1, 2, 2, 3, 5, 8 syllable lines)
- Decompress, make time to make very few words but the right ones

Can't Make Nothing Out of Nothing
…Use 5 prompt words to spark ideas and a time limit of 10 or 20 minutes to produce something. Sometimes it will have a few lines of use or keeper phrase.
…Add constraints, limit options. Start to list words with or without certain letter(s) to force assonance (same vowel sound) or consonance. (see online tools list). See what words end up near each other and how the word play into ideas.

Flip your usual habit
Do you have a plotter or pantster style?
...normally free write then edit? Make a mind map or pile on the constraints use a strict form and fill in the slots by meter and rhyme pattern or word lengths.
...normally do a brainstorm and outline before writing, do automatic writing and don't let pen leave page. No pauses allowed. Sense optional. Sentences fragments. Phrases. Can't think of a word leave a blank line or sketch something but keep moving.

Read what you don't like
...Until you can't help but throw the book, retort or get where the person is coming from. (Preferably all 3.) Expose yourself to what is against your bias or outside your reach. If you only reinforce what you know, you aren't challenges. Irritate yourself into growing.

Other Things to Do with other people's books
….tear all the words of the right margin. Rearrange those into a line or few.
…plunder the one you love. Take a poem you like and use some of the words in it in the order it appeared in that poem. Make your new setting for them.
….tell another version of what that poem said, keep its subject but change the point of view
…retell in formal language, slang language or using another form of poetry (from free verse reduced to limerick, or from pantoum to sonnet, for example)
…substitute your words slotted into their grammar and rhyme. Or use their meter but your ideas and sounds into the slots.
…copy the first 4 lines or your favorite 2 and then take it your own direction
…use a system for getting a random choice of starter batch lines. Throw dice twice to get a page number and the words to use as material by counting in.
…OR spell your first name as numbers. That's the page # to pillage. So Pearl = 7 + 5 + 1 + 9 = 22. Spell your last name as #. (That's the line # and # of words to take as your starter batch.)
(A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, E=5, F=6, G=7, H=8, I=9, J=1, K=2, L=3, M=4, N=5,
O=6, P=7, Q=8, R=9, S=1, T=2, U=3, V=4, W=5, X=6, Y=7, Z=8)
If your name is a bigger # than the # of lines or pages, sum your name as in numerology. For example Pirie = 7 + 9 + 9 + 5 = 45 → 4 + 5 = 9 So I would start on page 22, line 9 and take 9 words there. (You could just point at a random part of the book but working for a number makes it seem predestined or that you've made an investment that you want to pay off through poetry.)

Speaking Promptly

Online Prompts and Workshops

It isn't the idea but how much you bring to it, explore and develop and polish...but if you're looking for somewhere to start, some grain to form your snowflake are some starts.

Poets Online
Has monthly prompts of a subject or form with an example poems by expert

for example: poems by Robert Hass and, having read those, write about the conversations of couples in your own way

Friday Fives
set of words to spur or stir story, memory, flash fiction, poems.

for example: freckle, evade, peck, scoot, dash

One Word

60 second to expand or spin-off word in whatever way comes to mind from the prompt word. it cuts you off after a minute.

for example: tarnish, noose, or symbol

Language is a Virus

A prompt list. you can only see 1 at a time (can't be so overwhelmed by options)

for example: compose an index. Of anything.

Guardian's poetry workshop
with one prompt per month from the likes of Annie Finch or Mark Doty

for example: a close study of another species or elegies

Charles Berntein's list of 88 experiments

for example, pick 20 words and write three different poems using only these words, homophonic translation from a language you don't know, lines collaged from media

Sunday Stealing

Meme questions that might not occur to you from which to springboard

for example: Back in the day: Been caught sneaking out? What happened the last time you played sports? Ever licked someone’s cheek?

NaPoWriMo 2009

for example: follow a word trail to see what starts, from synonym to synonym or its perfect rhymes or pseudo-rhymes and see where they take you. “Papal” becomes “apple,” which becomes “grapple.” If you add “dabble” or “baffle,” what an interesting story you may have!

One form a day for April

for example: A French rondelet. One stanza. Only 2 rhymes with a strict pattern, repeated refrain. Line 4 must rhyme with the refrain.
                      _dog days_
Line 1 :: A -- four syllables             wilted flowers

Line 2 :: b -- eight syllables           at the window smell like swamp gas

Line 3 :: A -- repeat of line one      wilted flowers

Line 4 :: a -- eight syllables
         from you who are gone torque powers,
Line 5 :: b -- eight syllables          stink, to prod me to sun and grass.

Line 6 :: b -- eight syllables         rubber stems safe in wet, harass

Line 7 :: A -- repeat of line one      wilted flowers

30 in 30
Another set of Napowrimo prompts

for example: So today I want you to pay more attention to the Shape of your poem.
Play with the spacing of l e t t e r s.
Feeeeeeeeel how your man ip u lation of the English language is when you add a visual element.

Poetic Asides
Writer's Market April Challenge (over 10,000 responses to 15 prompts so far)

for example: Two for Tuesday: write a love poem and /or an anti-love poem

Messing in Meter
Messing about with rough text, then metered it into dialogue, then for interestingness. It's not the material or idea but what you do to it.

for example: Patrick Gillespie took the purple prose by Thomas North converted from prose to blank verse to more oomph/personal style added
hard by her, on either hand pretty fair boys appareled as painters
do set forth god Cupid, with little fans
in their hands, with which they fanned wind upon her.

On ei|ther hand |were pret|ty boys | ap-par-eled
As if |they each |were Cu|pid, fan|ning her

To keep |the wind |up-on | her.

On either side stood sweating boys
Like Cupidons with multi-colored wings
They teased the air with fans
That almost robbed the swooning breeze…

Weekly exercise prompts
for example: In 400 words or less, create a story that might explain the origin of an idiom.

Online Wordly Tools
Do erasure
use a black marker, keep a few words from a whole page

Wildcard dictionary
look for part of a word or sound such as (stats with a bl, ends with a rd) bl*rd (also a reverse dictionary at the site)

Anagrams search

Rhymes and slant rhyme Dictionary

Scrabble Helper
search for certain sounds such as you need all voiced and harsh tpkgbd???eea

A Few Daily Challenge Poems

It's good to exercise the composition muscles.

Today's challenge at Poetic Asides is to title a poem as "All I want is ______". I added a second constraint for myself of doing it as a reversing Fib.

All I want is more

of excess
to push back wall scrapes.
exponential growth is freedom.
what's sustainable?
smaller loops

Yesterday's challenge was to title with a color. I bumped up the constraint by making it a Rondeau as well.

Seeing Red

Our Land: Back Off Government!!!       A rare threat,
these rural signs by cinderblocks, cars set
up:     Gas, Bait 'n' Ice Cream Fireworks Gift Shop
  Your Dock & Deck Specialists.     Bob's Truck Stop
2 Buck Breakfasts.
    FR3SH LO3STErS.     Guitars sweat

the blues dropped.     Softly, our losses are debts
but waxing nostalgic spatters the carpet.
An ice cube makes brittle, knife up off pop... 
Our Land. Back Off.

Stains, textures are lost in the discarded.
What are your feelings towards my man? (Guarded
mumble reply): I'm fond of the guy.      Chop 
shop welding torch eyes! (She misheard.) Stop
fight! Not, "I fondled the guy."  Cigarette... 

Back off!

A couple days ago, the challenge was for a love poem, and/or anti-love poem. I added the constraint of it being a sonnet. This is what I came to from that...

Foible Acceptance

Your requests? Rational. Forgetting task
-- while distracted into focus -- I write
of you, my sweet. Not washing dishes, whites
and windows. Papers slide in piles off desk.
What's daily asked, it isn't much. I bask
in words, sit blind. I swear I don't incite,
deliberately, as tease or test. (Quite
absent-whatted?) Clothes doffed to floor. I'm brusque
at lunch, leave doors ajar. It's not malice
nor unspoken griefs, nor any lash at you.
I love you -- failings intact, in palace
of clouded head — and I strew. Don't construe
love's lack! It's just, I'm lax! I'm busy too!
If true, "Time makes all whole" this too shall bliss.

a new books woo

Waiting for my order to come, I ended up using a gift coupon and buying other things to hold me over. Never mind the 2 library books I haven't finished, or the 7 owned books I am actively reading, or the 1 other from a friend that I'm reading, the pile reshuffles, again.

Li-Young Lee's book that arrived, admittedly, I got because I have all his other books, including autobiography. I buy it for completion as much as for the gems of poems. There may be diminishing returns. From peruses he has reshuffled understandings of previous memories of family, but the shifts, where and how may be interesting. Other things must have blipped his radar in life but this is what he needs to revisit until he doesn't. A person goes where one has to at each stage.

His direction is going expansive which I am reluctant to go with. I resist his broadening out to the Rumi-ecstatic, the turmoils of self-torture bouts with the romance of melancholy. His poetic peers perhaps push him to do more of the same lyric sentences of lived experience. Or that may be a matter of how his mind shifts not any outside influence. He is naturally a long polisher. His words are a slow-write and slow read not a rush through but slow pick thru. Borrowing doesn't make sense so I buy it. It buy it too for the voice. This one comes with a CD. His is a lovely reading voice. It would be better to see him perform again but the where or when of that is unknowable.

I think I prefer poems on the air, live, adapted to each telling and audience. There can be a constancy of page for archive but after first telling, the interest is in the nuance and shift. It's like recorded music or any paper-print. They are fixed, canned, vinegary.

I'd rather see music being created or stories being related interactively when the sharer knows I'm there, as much as a love books. Recording is the access to something, asynchronously gifted, some shard of idea but the completion is the exchange, the performance without it being stripped of 2 breaths, the potential for flub or improv or improvement. That makes it vital...

A paper page is behind authorial glass, a control-freak's space, that can't be lived in without the audience fearing to crease, without the hesitancy from recoil of the mandate that one must not opine in. The meaning is set out to be received, not dialogue with.

Dialogue becomes more complex in print, protracted monologues exchanged that can't have course correction if someone drifts off on some point. A long blather and one small portion taken up. You have to go on trust, all was heard instead of with small parcels of information, each with acknowledgement. Misunderstandings or judgement can cantilever instead of the natural continuous feedback of pinging back and forth in live words.

What is in recorded is final. Until the internet and the erasure and overlay that emulates oral, unless the archivists get to it.

But still, all that aside, 3 new books today. Behind my Eyes, Mountain Tea, Area of Fog. I'm heady with anticipation to dig into them all. And yet still 4 projects of synthesis (of which writing here is none of them) before I can conscionably dig in.

The Orchid in Her

To expand and apply from yesterday's examination of how Yeats did that complex structure of rhythm, rhyme, semantics and argument, I have a response to the Day 15 challenge to the exercise to change the title of a poem and respond to it with a poem. One can stick as closely as one likes. [I edited since what I posted there and since I posted it here yesterday; still bumps in it.]

The Orchid in the Tree of Her

"All things uncomely and broken,
all things worn-out and old" - W.B. Yeats

His excuses are collected sod
from mouldy leaf and the sand
that would sting an unblinking eye.
It all lodged in the crotch in wait.

The seedling's soil -- in the fork
when a sapling -- just fanned
off the breeze's small back. What's lost
were just motes. To earth, new estate.

The grains, if retained or dropped
from her furrowed bark, she understands;
there's no mutual harm. She's not food
but a table. The nursery sates

self. The water, the leaves and the buds,
of her trunk have created their blossom's chant
off the breeze's small back and what's lost
were mots juste to earth. New estate.

I tried to keep to the transition of high ratio of anapest mixed into iambs until its all anapest, and to keep the rhyme and repetition structure intact. I want the structure to not draw attention to itself naturally and come off as unforced as his. (Aim high, crash into the ground. ;)) His is naturally flowing, and a natural sounding poem.

I set out to retort the brunt of the bitter turn of The Rose in the Deeps of His Heart and answer with the same concept of a flower within. I aimed to reframe and spin so that she is not a rose that loses her color quickly, taking a note from Carl Smith's

I overlooked an orchid/while searching for rose/...The orchid is a flower that blooms so tenderly/If placed beside a blushin' rose/ the rose could not compare

The object of affection is not a plant with the only relevant part being embodied by a flower, in fact, but a tree that lives in symbiosis with a lasting orchid (cue Georgia O'Keefe) and spurns the spurn and dirt throw at her and the too early declaration of grave.

I'm still fiddling with it, but it may have some potential.

Rather a metaphorical wall is that the orchid is such a general word for the largest flowering family with over 20,000 species, some terrestrial, some aquatic, half of them epiphytes/on air, and include everything from bladderworts to those feather boas in freshwater lakes to venus fly traps.

The epiphyte orchids which flower from the bark of trees live incidentally with the tree, not sending roots in parasitically, or in mutual symbiosis, just prop themselves inert in mutual non-harm, a form of commensalism.

What would that mean for the figurative? The orchid is not nurtured in soil caught by the tree, thrown by forces and drifts of nature. The dirt accumulates but is not critical.

Would the biology of commensalism be denouncing the relationship of her own sexuality (as orchid) if woman is tree. The tree is untroubled and there's no interaction except being in the same sun. That biology troubles the flow of the poem.

At least I think I understand the 3-beat meter better now.

Tearing Apart Iamb for Iamb

How not to write Iambic pentameter is as much about how not to write it by Patrick Gillespie. He starts with purple prose and plays with the materials...I like this. He tears things back to base ideas, building blocks. An idea isn't too precious to mess with. Edits are substantive yanks. This I can grasp.

He was talking about process of moving from idea to vividly written and metered. It doesn't matter the idea or the starting point. It's what you apply to it.

Where do you start?
The first thing you might do is to lineate the prose. [...]

Ta da! We now have a free verse poem. And this is probably where 99 out of 100 modern poets stop. Free verse is the easiest and least demanding literary form ever created. But for those who like to juggle with more than one ball, let’s try two. The next step is to transform this passage into Iambic Pentameter.

[...]The blank verse (Iambic Pentameter) is competent and passable poetry. And  this is where many poets stop (those who write meter); but this is still juggling with just two balls. Now let’s juggle three. Let’s vary the meter and give it some life. [...]

Study closely how little additions and adornments turn ordinary prose into poetry. It’s not the content that makes the poem.

To paraphrase what he says of the next stage, you could add characters. Convert to dialogue. Add internal linkages of extended references to one base of metaphor, add wordplay and style.

It's a mechanic bent, but more can be said with that than talking from the perspective of poetry as mystic.

I like the exercise point of view rather than let us make something which is complete and true in first draft which is no more than tweaked for spelling. I'd rather tear something to component parts. All is lego.

I like making a long poem then just tearing the right margin words off and keeping those, or a subset of. It's not a pride issue to spend 2 or 3 hours on a poem and then throw it out. Process can be more interesting than product. And more useful.

To build into a structure or disassemble something which has structure are both interesting. For example, I took this Yeats poem and looked at it's structure, from rhyme (ABCD EBFD GBHD IBJD) to which sounds are most used and their place of articulation to see if there was a pattern (mostly voiced sounds but nothing strongly disproportional to normal, a lot of short i, and long o but not a strongly leaned on, dominant device of sound in this way). And then I reparsed the meaning.

S1-S2 things (example list of 1,2,3, then #3 expanded on, each line end stopped semantically) are dissonant against the memory of your beauty.
S3 world's too ugly a setting for you. I'll redo it.
S4 the new earth as your casket, and a casket for my dreams of you, my unattainable/inaccessible love.

The lines are ragged lengths with uneven number of syllables but it has a regular feel. What's going on? Yeats and Swinburns and the 19th century are characteristic for mixing iamb and anapest. I next looked at the meter which wraps around lines, so here I'll condense the couplets into one line since that how the meter neatly falls.

iamb iamb anapest anapest spondee iamb
iamb anapest anapest iamb anapest anapest

iamb iamb anapest iamb anapest iamb
iamb anapest anapest anapest anapest anapest

iamb iamb iamb anapest iamb anapest
iamb anapest anapest iamb anapest trochee beat

anapest anapest anapest anapest anapest anapest
anapest anapest anapest anapest anapest anapest

That much regularity in meter cannot be by accident. It's not the same length of line by syllables but it is regular length by counting accentually. Each line has 3 long (or stressed) syllables.

There's one exception, that last line of the second last stanza. (The word knoll throws the rhythm, foot, and pattern of 3 stressed syllables, couldn't not be accidental. It's also the pivot point of attitude where it shifts tone. The rose goes from hidden and protected to dead and buried. Is this a love poem? or smitten from afar; can't have you; wish you to be dead; how romantic manic.)

12 feet per stanza and 4 stanzas but the base is 3. 3 stressed beats per line. There are 6 stressed beats per 12 feet. Some are iambs, some anapest, increasingly over length, anapest. The last stanza which is fastest (since one speaks an iamb in the same speed as one speaks a three beat anapest but with 1/2 more content) also has the most even roll with regularity and consistency giving a stronger resolution underscoring the summative feel.

Does this make sense more when we add back the words?

The Rose in the Deeps of His Heart

All things uncomely and broken,
all things worn-out and old,
The cry of a child by the roadway,
the creak of a lumbering cart,

The heavy steps of the ploughman,
splashing the wintry mould,
Are wronging your image that blossoms
a rose in the deeps of my heart.

The wrong of unshapely things
is a wrong too great to be told;
I hunger to build them anew
and sit on a green knoll apart,

With the earth and the sky and the water,
remade, like a casket of gold
For my dreams of your image that blossoms
a rose in the deeps of my heart.

- William Butler Yeats


for OSI: Water Prompt a rearrangement of words of another poem.

rock squints a mica wink

azure is to each
as far. the blue
in the while 
is in each,

wild waves
beneath. sun
unfolds ray of
air-immersed beauty.

breathing a life coil
they touch whisper
the ocean, sky
neither impossible.