Saturday, October 11, 2008

Formal Mechanics, the Rotary Lawnmower, and the Movement of Stanzas

I've decided to create a form that mimics the movement of the rotary lawnmower.
The purpose of the form is, I think, like the purpose of mowing, to create order out of unorderliness through the means of repetitive violence, to create motion in form through repetition at the beginning and end of a stanza.
The first decision is, is the lawnmower a mulching or bag type? The second is, which words will be repeated? I've decided on two verbs, but I think nouns could maybe work too.
As for the lawn, I've toyed with the idea of making a list of messiness and then just mowing through it with the twin blades of my chosen verbs. But I think narrative situations offer messiness as well, so it wouldn't have to be lyrical.
I like the idea of quatrains, because they're nice and rectangular, like rooms and like lawns and I think that has a lot to do with the idea of maintenance, that there is a shape you are trying to trim things into. Line length should be even, but long or short might depend on the size of the lot.
The first verb should start the stanza, the second should end the second line, the first come back in the third line, and the second repeat in the last line, maybe at the end of the line, a full rotation.
If you have chosen the organically friendly and less expensive mulching type of lawn mower, you should pick a word in each stanza, that is particularly messy to you, like a tall weed, for the action of each blade to mow down and leave a piece of it in the next line. My husband volunteered "disheveled," which is a great example because you would never use it in a poem, and I think the remains of this word would show up as "dish" or maybe even "shovel," or "hell."
If you've decided to be the ultimate neat-freak, to bag and maybe (greenies) to compost, then instead of falling behind in clumps after the movement of the blades, these little clippings would collect at have to be dumped at the end.

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