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,