Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inaugural Poetry as it Ought to Be

Even representational, personal, narrative poets were gagging, as it turns out.

In workshops, I do an exercise on the first day. Everyone free-writes (incl. me) for 10-15 min. Then, we count the number of words we've written. Then, we underline the words, phrases, sentences we like most, and cross out those we like least. The goal is to arrive at one half (or fewer) of the number of words of the original free-write.

Then I have them go home and make a poem out of what's left, and bring it to class. When they do, I have them count the number of words and - you guessed it - cut out half.

It seemed to me that Elizabeth Alexander could have benefited from this exercise.

In any case, I thought there were some sort of interesting phrases & lines in the poem, but that about half of it was pretty boring.

So, I rewrote it. [ahem.]

Praise the Day



We walk past, catching each other’s
eyes, or not, about to speak –

All about us is


noise and bramble, thorn and din.

Someone is repairing things that need it.

Someone makes music:


a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

We encounter each other in words


spiny or smooth, whispered, declaimed,
words to re-consider.

We want to find a place


where we will be safe.
Say it plain: many died for this day:
Sing the names of them that brought us here,

picked the cotton, or lettuce –

praise for every hand-lettered sign
under widening light at kitchen tables.


In today’s sharp sparkling winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun,
on the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,


6 comments:

Kris H. said...

THAT's the poem that should have been on the podium.

I'm not familiar with her work; I can only hope that was a bad example of it.

I caught myself thinking, "That's a poem? She's a famous poet? WTF?"

But then, I'm amongst the great underschooled when it it comes to poetry...

Judy said...

past eyes
speak
noise
repair spoons, voice, words
consider:
place
safe
die
names
sing cotton & lettuce & sign
wide tables
air
sentence made
cusp

---------



(typographic comment: place/safe/die/names were supposed to be indented by the all-powerful blogger does not understand these things)

Susan M. Schultz said...

Now the problem may yet be with the words themselves! But better!

brian a j salchert said...

I'm going to try something which may or may not work, and I'm not going to reveal what it is. If it works/ I will post a clarifying comment.

consider:
           place

brian a j salchert said...

Okay, there is a site:
www.lookuptables.com
which lists ASCII for HTML --
one of the codes listed there is:
  (that is, & no backspace)
which is compacted to & nbsp ;
with no space between the & and n
and no space between the p and ;
-
I used 11 of these in a row in my first post
and one in this post
-
Given the position of "place" in my first post, my guess is/ at least 17 in a row would be needed to get place out beyond the colon after "consider"

Judy said...

Brian, thanks for the hint, but I don't follow it. Was it & or &nbsp? Does it need <>?

Judy the clueless.