i’m thinking out loud in this one (sorry)

Okay, I’ve done some extensive self-reflection, and I think the biggest problem I had with choosing a poem on Monday was that I was trying to veer away from a common “theme” or “technique” that I believe I’m known for in my poems/writing. I’ve noticed that when I am poetically trying to describe an innocent event with a romantic interest, it may come off as me making it sexual, even though that’s not at all what happened. I also noticed that I either skew the events that I’m describing so that they’re unrecognizable to everyone except the people involved or that my attempts to depict my very erratic thought process make it completely illegible.

To address the first point of me writing innocent things that come off as sexual, I think that this has been a result of my first poem, where I hinted at sexual violence. Not all of my poems incorporate that into them, and all of my poems are usually not written about a single person or event. So then I beg to ask the question, how do we string together a collection of poems that may or may not be connected to each other? Should we do what Sergio does, and string them together in a series of vignettes? What if they’re only meant to connect to each other faintly? I think the only way I can get over this is to section my poems off into collections, but maybe based on moods or themes. However, I think this may not serve well for having the element of inference still available for the reader, or having them figure out what the poem could mean to them. 

In terms of making a random thought process “readable” I suppose I could edit my poems so that the ideas behind them are more concise- cutting and moving details around to help create a more organized poem.

Maybe this is more of a selfish post, because everyone’s writing is different, but if it can be useful to you, then that’s great. If you disagree with anything I said, than please tell me why. This is not a finished product. 🙂

someone had to ask the question

It took me closer to 2 hours to pick my poem to distribute today. I had a plethora of poems to choose from. I had poems that had long and short lines, and even one that took up a whole page, including all of the margins. I wasn’t particularly proud of any one of them, except one that I wrote based on the prompt we received to take a line from 10 poems and squish them together. (This infuriated me, because I considered that poem to be one that I hadn’t actually written since I had only strung some lines together).

I know that this was my last workshop and I don’t get to pick another one to be workshopped, but I’m wondering how you guys get over this colossal waste of time. I’d really like to not endure that again. Do you go with a poem that you’re most proud of or one that you’d really like to have edited? Do you guys tend to lean toward shorter or longer lines? Is it a stylistic choice?

I bet it’s probably a personal choice, right? I know I’m going to have to make this decision for the rest of my creative career, but man, it’s a terrible question to ask when you have a collection of poems that mean about the same to you. Help!

paying homage

I’d like to talk about the purpose of an epigraph. I had to look up what an epigraph was before I wrote this because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. I do know, however, that it came up in class the other day when we were talking about inspiration. As writers, we have to make sure that we’re truly inspired before we write about something, so that it actually sounds good. (At least, that’s how it is for me, feel free to share your experiences if you can just write about anything at the drop of a hat).

I think that epigraphs are a great way to pay homage to what has inspired us, but I’ve discovered a different way to do that. I take a line from a song, or a poem or a movie, and I change it to fit the subject of the poem.  For example, I’ll take “The lady loves me, but she doesn’t know it yet” and change it to fit another poem. So it becomes “Oh boy does the lady love you, and don’t you know it yet?” I’ve found that the trickiest thing with this method is finding a new way to convey the sentiment behind the original line, since you’re changing it. I kind of like it when I find a way to change a line and make it so that it’s possible that the original speaker could have said that line. In other words, I like when I preserve their personality and diction when I do this, however it doesn’t come easily. Oh well. What do you think of my method? Is it too cheesy? Is it over done? Is there a way that you suggest I change it? Fire away. 🙂

i didn’t pass on the torch

I took what was said in my last workshop to heart, and I really tried to stop using all of my fire musings. Gone were the analogies of fire, including but not limited to: “crackling like teak wood in a blaze”,  “engulfing infernos” and “bubbling blisters”. I even tried to stop using words that even equated to temperature, and instead used words like “atmosphere”. (Side note: I’m so crazed with the usage of heat/ temperature, that I snuck another use for temperature in that last poem, and i’m surprised nobody picked up on it. I tried to make words even sound like “temperature” with my line “temper at your forehead- pointing”… Whoops. 🙂 )

But I digress. The point is that I tried not to, and it produced some very unique work that I hadn’t seen in a long time from myself. I kind of did something similar to what we were asked to do last week for our weekly poem, in that I asked myself to look for the “negatives” in my thoughts.

I ended up breaking one of the rules of the prompts in looking to the opposite of heat, (something it explicitly told me not to do), which I found to be a cooling feeling instead of simply ice cold. I tried, for now, to stay away from any extremity. In doing so, I found that thinking of cooling sensations brought me back home, to the South Shore of Long Island, where waves provide a refreshing option to baking on the hot sand. I tried not to think of the unforgiving sun, and I thought of what it feels like to step in, and to navigate the rough waters and rip tides that every Long Islander learns to do. My work benefited immensely from this, so I decided to do it again, but I used flowers, and I thought of the wildflower garden I was able to grow from mere seed packets. I tried to focus on the calm coming from the muses of my poems, and if I were to signal any kind of feelings of being uncomfortable, I would write about the absence of the feeling of zen. It’s said that “cold is just the absence of heat”, and I tried to use that.

Upon reflection of my style change, I found that I wasn’t truly writing about fire and heat, but about intense emotions, stressful situations and about being burnt out by personal issues regarding myself and other people. My transition to using different ways to express these feelings helped me identify some of these factors in finding newer ways to express them. Maybe it’s as simple as grabbing a thesaurus and looking for a better word for some people, but for me it required an entirely new thematic pattern for my writing.

The point of me writing this is not to make a blog post about myself, but to outline the process of revision. For those of you who seem to be going through a phase like myself, I think it’s worth noting the process of processing the “negatives”, so that you can try to break out of it. It might bring you somewhere familiar, like me, or maybe you can travel to another setting.  Making a point to step out of your comfort zone is scary, but so worth it!

old world and new world; a history lesson

Over break, I made a point to grab some of the many books I’ve bought at Barnes and Noble over the years. I wanted to directly compare what we’ve been learning in class about “the line” with what had sparked my interest in more classic works. My favorite writer is 214 years old. It’s Ralph Waldo Emerson, and he was a huge part of the American Transcendentalism movement that arose when people were moving farther West. He, and many others wrote romantic pieces about the new, natural world they were seeing. What I notice about his writings, along with Walt Whitman, and John Keats’ work is that their interpretation of “the line” is much different than ours is today. They’re able to use different elements of prose and diction that seem “kitsch” today when imitated.

Continue reading “old world and new world; a history lesson”

twitter and texting linguistics

So, we all know that twitter is notorious for having a character limit of 140 characters, which isn’t much at all. But, with the talks of doubling the character limit, what does that do to the line?

The benefits of having it at only 140 characters means that users get straight to the point, forcing their ideas to be clear and concise and worthy of the attention of their followers. I think this is similar to what we do as poets, and connects to what we had been discussing in class about making the words we use have impact. If we were to follow a prompt that limited how many characters we used, how would we use our words differently? Would it make a difference if we took the same poem and allowed ourselves to double the character count? I believe that this would result in two very different poems, however they would still be related. I believe that the poem with less characters would get to its point quicker, and would have less “fluff”.

Similarly, with texting and technology, I believe our communication is abbreviated to get thoughts out more efficiently. The point of texting is to communicate quickly, forcing us to get information and “lol”s out by abbreviating and getting to the point. It also gives us a specific audience every time we send a text to a singular person or group of people. It utilizes vernacular and diction that is unique to culture and context, much like our poems do. Also, the texting “line” is predetermined by the amount of space we have on a screen, and the lines are usually divided for us, depending on what kind of phone or device we are using. I think this coincides with Twitter’s 140 character system in that it’s predetermined by others, and forces us to conform to the space allowed, much like a prompt we might do in class. What would we do if we had more control over how long our texting lines were? Is this the question we ask ourselves every time we write a poem using a prompt versus a free write?

poems and song writing

I found it really interesting that John O. Espinoza writes about a new way to piece poetry together with scissors and scotch tape. I think that using multiple methods to create poetry is useful in that it creates new and unique work almost every time. When I first read the passage, it brought me back to why I started writing poetry, and that was because I was writing song lyrics and music. I feel as if the process of writing poetry for songs is much different than writing just for it to be on paper. The symmetry is different, it has to match a melody, and all of the words must carry weight so people know what they’re singing about. Other things that factor in is whether or not you want the song to highlight the voice, lyrics or melody, and that might be something interesting to consider when writing a poem. A bit of role-playing as a writer, if you will. I think this might serve as a prompt for different writing styles as well, since it has such narrow parameters, and may produce some of the best work for someone that has never tried it. Even to combine the two methods of poem writing could produce a new style altogether, as well as stimulate new topics  for even more poems.  This would also solve the problem that Espinoza writes about when he speaks of the words not being able to stand alone because they do not relate to what happens before or after each one. Also, it may provide for more thinking about what gets put into a line in order to accommodate the format. It may allow for more grouping in terms of themes and topics, which may work in terms of more understanding and more seamless transitions between lines.

on abstraction

I hadn’t truly thought about the extent of how abstract poems can be before my workshop. To me, what happened in my poem was clear, but I was also the one experiencing it. Metaphorically, I tried taking my story and shattering it, only using a handful of shards to put it back together. In hindsight I don’t really know if that’s an effective way to share unique experiences, because not everyone can grasp onto some of the concepts being expressed. That’s not the fault of the reader, but the writer. So to what extent can you alter the deliverance of a story before you change the story told altogether? Continue reading “on abstraction”