Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Workshop notes for February

The fun of a poem, for me, is how it engages words, communicates something I would otherwise not have thought of..

Title... "Can you hear my smile" -- the title suggests the poem is about faking a smile to get through a horrendous interaction... the structure of the poem treats the smile as a response to...
diction... synesthesia strong; how "telling" undoes a lyrical moment.. if the tone is jaunty, sarcastic, does that serve an emotional truth better than a tone that is sincere... is the reader given surface clarity for time/place?
Noise vs. silence.
The second workshop, a revised poem without the song the nursery rhymes about blind mice, humpty dumpty who had a great fall alternated prose and shorter lines. It was suggested to use "reading of letters" as the set up and include other ones.

In the article by George Saunders,
( )
he describes the process of writing prose, starting with a snapshot of Lincoln
losing his son Willy. It's a great idea... filled with emotion but such an enormous grief, it is hard to know how to write it... He uses the metaphor of the writer being the juggler who throws pins up in the air and then sees which one to catch-- circles around a subject until the pins are spot on.
Always consider the reader looking for discovery, transformation...

There is something wonderful in feeling the presence of the writer within you, of something wilful that seems to have a plan’ … George Saunders.

BF Fairchild: Mrs. Hill. Narrative. first memory of Battle Creek, MI, home of cereal fabrication...
sets up a domestic battle... a lyric moment... soldiers, ladies in flower hats... a cut-away moment
marriage ceremony language... the cigar box as tomb for ashes... return to the initial subject...
Every word counts... heroism is not about collecting medals...

Bill Knott: to read: Laugh at the End of the World.

Two poems based on current events; "On the turning up of Unidentified Black Female Corpses" by Toi Derricotte is a response to Henry Taylor's "Landscape with Tractor"

Mt. Imbabura... invited to go on a trip to Ecuador... and we find out the speaker is scared of heights...
Frida Kahlo -- her self portrait with heart. What details do we see that suggest a broken soul... one arm sticks out like a brown twig, the white blouse sleeve is empty... How does the poem leap into the more universal area
of how we become "numb to the scenarios of life", handless and helpless... empty clothes hang by a thread,
stretch to the sky, the life-span of a woman's heart...

Fire Safety: -- catalogue of possessions... things that matter... what do you choose if there's a fire?
emotional truth of parents, of course, always there...

Review Gregory Orr: Poetry as Survival... the 3 powers: Story (what if)
if not enough, shift to symbol (inferred meaning)
if not enough, rely on incantation.

If the metal is hot, what do you try next?

Safety Concerns: credibility-- a sense of a voice of authority...
"Somewhere in the country, a girl is trembling..." -- line... is it propulsive? mimetic... how choose the pacing...

Paha Sapa: Lakota: political poems run the risk of standing on a soap box... preaching...editorializing.
What do readers want to hear? Poetry is not the "what" but the "how" we say it. If a lament, we will listen, vs. ranging.

Ask poems, what is engaging? encourage writers by saying, "you have written an ambitious and important piece"...
where is the narrative jolt..

Einstein: no worthy problem ever solved in the plane of its original conception.

What are the pins I'm going to throw up in the air? Which ones seem necessary as they tumble down?
How will I put them back together...

Craft. The vessel that takes us to our edges.

Everything for the final impact.

Marianne Moore. Only have as much clarify equal to your reticence.

1.What is a line from your favorite poem or song?
2. Draw a small portrait of your first pet.
3. What 3 objects include your mother’s favorite colors?
4. What scent best embodies who you are?
5. What is your favorite three word sentence?
6. Explain how you got a scar on your body.
7. Come up with an imaginary definition of your last name.
8. How did you come by your first name?
Instructions: answer these questions and give to the person on your left.
You will write a poem using the information you receive.
a) offer one counter argument. (ex. It is a mistake to think... Don’t think for a minute.. a counter argument never has a conclusion.)
b) describe the drawing in one sentence.
c) use the three word sentence at least twice.
d) title the poem “A Poem by (person whose answers you received)
e) 5 obstructions: (2003 film: remaking The Perfect Human five times, each time with a different "obstruction" (or obstacle) imposed by von Trier.[1]

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