Friday, October 31, 2008
The idea is that people post postcard sized images with a secret on them. They range from the cliche and self-absorbed, to the political, to the funny, to the incredibly sad.
While I normally wouldn't suggest stealing people's stories (well, maybe I would) the nature of this project is that the contributors are offering up these secrets to be art, to be a part of collaborative art. I think some of them would make great poetry or fiction premises.
Thanks to PostSecret for creating a forum where people can share these things about themselves.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I went through the poems and pulled out some words I like, which I plan on using in a few poems this week. I was like, ruffle!! I love ruffle.
Then I typed a bunch of them into polyvore to make a collage. Here are the words I used:
plum, ruffle, spot, sleek, proper, ribbon, and clean.
April Galleons by parrotflower
a huge list of Ashberry words follows:
vetiver smudges fishhook sleek mood sawdust hat bank plum taste thin floor sharp stick scrub door shave shake tactics ship ruffle fit cloak tilt tag crunch fatal bottom strive ask spot sink lost ribbon rust proper plug fresh quiet rich bound wander nourish kind riot wrist find tease canvas jug wisp honey forget fragile burnt pave balloon burst fetching cabbage shut slow moist calm mode lock cash claw simple fakes settle faint judge thistle clean tip lavish stir blind step shy stack stalk whisper
Note: Yes, in the original post I said Rilke instead of Roethke. Oops. To make up for it, the exercise, pulled from The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo, is as follows.
Use five nouns, verbs, and adjectives from the above lists and write a poem as follows:
1. Four beats to the line
2. six lines to the stanza
4. At least two internal and one external slant rhyme per stanza
5. maximum two end stops per stanza
6. clear English grammatical sentences, must make sense.
Nouns: tamarack throat belief rock frog dog slag eye cloud mud
Verbs: to kiss to curve to swing to ruin to bite to cut to surprise to bruise to hug to say
Adjectives: blue hot soft tough important wavering sharp cool red leather
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I probably wouldn't be blogging about what is, when you think about it, sort of a confusing call for submissions if it weren't for this color wheel. Doesn't it sort of look like the Wheel of Fortune, or that wheel on the Price is Right?
Anyway, I love the idea of taking a tack and sticking it in this wheel a couple times, making each color block it lands on a stanza, and the title of the poem an agent of change.
I think the key, as it always is when dealing with huge abstractions, is to find something small and personal.
Here's what each of these things would be for me the first time I stuck a tack in them:
Identity: waiting for my Georgia voter registration card two weeks before a presidential election
Work: watching the soda pumps from the back room of the theater concession stand
The Arts: ceramics summer camp where I learned how to play poker and a kid threatened me with an exacto knife
Tradition: baptism photos of my husband
Beliefs: the Augustus Caesar statue my husband got in Italy, sitting on our fireplace
Family: my little sister getting rolled out of the nursery in her terrarium
Change: my baby bump
Knowledge:I have an encyclopedia of trivia
Home: digging through the azalea hedge for a frisbee
Any of these sections of the wheel could be a pretty personal lyric fairly quickly if you just try to conjure up very specific episodes. If you have trouble keeping the agent of change in the title personal and concrete, list all the years you've been alive and stick a tack in the list. The episodes you picked will lie before or after this date and there's bound to be something that happened between the two.
I just did this and its sort of depressing to see how long the list of numbers is. I got 1999, my Sophmore year in high school, the year I went to Spain, a year before my cousin died. So depending on how morbid I wanted to be, there's my poem. Of course, if I didn't have anything important happen that year I could just see if any relatively obscure thing happened in the headlines. That could be even more interesting. W2K was pretty big, but maybe a Spice Girls tour stop in a small town would be good. I'm getting nostalgic already.Thanks Crab Orchard Review for their beautiful publication and for offering a call to submissions vague enough to be interesting. To see the call go to:
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The gist of the movie is that Bergman was run out of town as a pregnant teen after filing a paternity suit against her lover. He bribes two witnesses for a bottle of brandy each to say that she is promiscuous. The authorities take her child, who quickly dies in an institution, label her a fallen woman, and she becomes a big city prostitute. Years later, she returns, a wealthy woman, with a proposition for the town that turned its back on her. They are struggling…the local mines, the factory, the riverside...all their business has mysteriously dried up and she offers them 2 million to kill the man who ruined her instead of taking responsibility for his child.
I’m not suggesting that people write a poem where they make an “indecent proposal.” What’s interesting to me about this movie is that by making this offer to the town, she puts her ex-lover in the exact position he put her in, a position where those in power, the people he’s trusted and grown up with, his own friends, actively set him up, ruin and finally move to take his life. This is the interesting moment to me, when he moves from disbelief, thinking of course that he was right in what he did, to struggling with the same forces he set in motion before.
I’m also not suggesting this be some epic poem about a life and death struggle, but that this kind of revenge, this very profound shift in position, is ripe for a lyric. Take a situation which you might still be harboring some grudge over, (unless you’re some profoundly well-developed person who doesn’t carry grudges) and put that person in a reversed position. The truly startling thing is the amount of sympathy you end up having with the character as they share, and realize they share, your same experience.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
The Obscene Jester is a pretty interesting performance art blog I read from time to time. While I was catching up on my blog readership yesterday, I came across an intriguing idea in the blog describing a musical art performance.
The term "negative superman" has the ringing tone of film theory about it, but I haven’t been very successful tracking it down.
Still, it’s a compelling idea—the negative superman. The ubermensch evil one? The archvillain? I think what is perhaps most interesting about the character is the idea that these actors—aging, fallible typecast actors—play these larger than life mustache/cape twirlers.
I suppose for me this idea presents as a duality, a diptych. On one hand, the superhuman, the epic villain—and I suppose I would depart from a Milton-esque Satanic monologue here and maybe list or catalogue actions/narrative. (Maybe I think that’s what makes a villain.) A suggestion for this part: I just began reading an article from Comparative Literature entitled "Negative Comparison in the Literary Narrative Epic" and I see the negative simile, which poets will be familiar with as "describe what is by what it is not" or "what it does by what it does not" as being very potentially helpful here in describing the negative superhero. The formula sets up like this, x is not a, nor b, nor c, x is d.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Check out this issue of Blackbird online. It has a feature, "Tracking the Muse," with commentary by various poets about their process. Here's a link to Jehanne Dubrow's "Notes Toward a Nonexistent Poet." http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v7n1/features/muse/dubrow_j.htm
It is great. She starts off suggesting you lie a little bit about yourself, making up an experience you never had, like a childhood overseas. But she progresses toward creating a whole fictional poet and writing poems for her. While the amount of research needed for a whole book of works by a fictional poet might be a little more than a Wednesday afternoon will permit, you could pick a person you know and write a poem as them, or as a famous person, or as a made-up person.
My poet is Sara Johnston. She's from North Carolina, daughter of an Airforce captain, and her family lived in Germany from when she was eight to eleven. She recently was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma.