Is There a Geneseo School of Poetry?

This is a topic that has come up a few times in the Gandy Dancer class, both this semester and last. I’ve talked a little with Lucia about this, and we both seem to agree: Geneseo has a definite school or style of poetry. Complex, multidimensional lines; intricate details and images; an aversion to the abstract and vague—these are all things I tend to see in the poems being produced in our workshop and by other Geneseo students that write poetry. Continue reading “Is There a Geneseo School of Poetry?”

Influence on Poetry

I find it funny that people are posting about poetry in their childhood, as I was thinking about which poems really stood out to me when I was young.  I own every book of Shel Silverstein’s poetry, and I remember reading all of them over and over when I was young. My favorite poem of his was probably “Whatif”  from  A Light in the Attic. I still, for some reason, have the introduction memorized: Continue reading “Influence on Poetry”

Quotes

Sometimes when I’m feeling more disillusioned with poetry as a whole (usually thanks to relatives who tell me that I’ll go nowhere with a degree in creative writing) I look through a collection of quotes about writing that I keep on hand. Recently I’ve been coming down with something (like just about everyone on campus) and haven’t been able to find words as easily as I’d like, so here are a few of my favorite quotes about poetry and writing in hopes that they help you guys through the usual fall colds/viruses:

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Giving Robert Frost Another Chance On Friday Night

Like any other wild friday night my roommate and I were listening to some poetry recordings. I put on “An Album of Modern Poetry Vol.1” that I had bought for the Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot on it. First up, however, was Robert Frost; that “two roads” guy who I associated with all of those horrible token poetry days in middle school. I might have skipped forward if I wasn’t tired, and a generally lazy person. By the time he was reading a third poem, “Directive”, I was falling asleep because I wasn’t paying an attention. “Directive” demanded it.

I can’t find a recording of it online, which is a shame because Frost’s gravelly voice really adds to the experience, and the poem is a little long to copy paste entirely, so here are the first four lines. And <a href=http://hellopoetry.com/poem/1048/directive/>here’s</a> the poem for reading at your leisure.

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,

The 4th line literally pulled me out of quasi-sleep. If it wasn’t for our quick lesson on meter I probably would have attributed this to the hard sounds of that beautiful cluster “graveyard marble sculpture”, which is certainly part of it, but more than that I think its how highly stressed the line is, how it breaks you out of the lulling first three lines with their slant rhyme. I had never really thought about meter before, so I had never really thought about it can be used to emphasize lines where I might have been trying to achieve the same effect with punctuation or italics. The idea of writing with meter is still daunting to me, but the more I find examples like this the more appealing it becomes to me.

The Collectivism of Magnet Poetry

When I was younger, I always wanted a set of magnet poetry so I could write something cute (but most likely just silly) on the fridge. For some reason or another, I never thought about asking for it. No one in my family writes poetry and none of them read it. The fridge is a shared space and although my report cards and little kid artwork went up on the fridge, asking for magnet poetry was unfathomable. Then I went to college and my roommate had a fun set of “college-themed” ones. We used it on our white board outside of our rooms and we would always come back to something new.

Continue reading “The Collectivism of Magnet Poetry”

Childhood Poetry

From a young age I dabbled in various creative tasks. I drew, wrote songs in my head, and eventually started writing things down. I loved the effect of rhyme. Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein were the Greats of my time. Though I, regrettably, don’t draw as much as I used to I still write songs, sing and play, and, of course, write frequently.

Geneseo is only about forty-five minutes from where I live, in West Irondequoit, and I go home most weekends for band practice. Yesterday I dug up a portfolio behind my couch containing a hefty pile of artwork I made between the ages of ten and sixteen. Underneath was a thin folder containing poetry I wrote as a kid, most of them written at the age of eleven/twelve. Reading these rhyme-heavy, basic poems invoked feelings of nostalgia and embarrassment, and I loved every minute of it.

Here’s a poem entitled, “Circles,” which I apparently wrote April 28th, 2005 (I was eleven):

Circles

Circles are amazing shapes,

With no beginning and no end.

The shape of an orange or a grape,

Ovals always like to pretend.

 

As big as the colorful planets,

The size of an analog clock,

As small as a piece of granite,

And a perfect smooth silver rock.

 

The sun that shines with burning desire,

A freshly picked cherry from a tree,

The sparks that hurl from the fire,

And a golf ball that’s resting on a tree.

 

A circle can be big or small,

The shape of a china dish,

A circle is the coolest of all,

A circle is an endless wish.

 

I hope you laughed and cringed as much as I did reading that (especially at the ever-descriptive, “coolest of all”). Perhaps what I love most about finding these relics is their purpose as time-markers. I vaguely remember sitting down and writing this poem, thinking it was profound–maybe it was for an eleven-year-old (I do like “A circle is an endless wish,” as lofty as it is). I did the best with the vocabulary and knowledge I had at the time, and now I can appreciate these early attempts that serve as the foundation for my love of writing.

I want to read any childhood poems/other writing you guys have dug up, if you have any. Don’t let me suffer alone.

Workshop Community

One of my favorite parts of workshop is the community that gets built around that particular class. It’s an opportunity to see what other people are doing/trying out/thieving from other people. And because trust is so vital in a workshop (because offering up your baby to be critiqued is often painful), I find my peers in  upper-level workshops to be much closer than other classes. I think it’s important to be constantly in conversation with not only your texts, but those of your peers, and more established writers. I found our discussion on meter last class incredibly interesting and something I hadn’t really considered before. It’s also just great to see people get excited about poetry and see all the variety brought to the table–long-lined poems, short-lined poems, form poems, sectioned, white space, funky punctuation, etc.

After the poetic whirlwind, I noticed a lot of double colons and semi-colons in recent workshop poems and some poems shifting away from the left margin. I love that we’re constantly absorbing and taking things away from each other. It got me thinking about what I want to work on myself. For example, Romy’s short lined, compact poem makes me want to try and write one of those, Erin’s dirge made me start thinking about the form of elegies/dirges/etc., and Savannah’s resonant & lovely images have me thinking about the richness of my own images and how to better those.

How do you feel about the idea of workshop community? What things do you want to try after seeing what other people are doing?

Blackouts, Cabbages & Kings

My uncle works for a printing company in Rochester and contacted me one day, asking if I’d like some copies of literary and art magazines from Monroe Community College. I gladly accepted, curious as to what nearby colleges are up to with their poetry.

Cabbages & Kings displays a collection of visual art, interviews and poems, but they also included blackout poetry in the 2012 issue. However, in the 2013 and 2014 issues I have, no blackout poetry had been published. I wanted to know what you guys, poetry blog perusers, thought about blackout poetry as a craft, as a challenging prompt, as a useful tool, or just in general.

Is destruction just another form of creation—Would Donnie Darko support blackout poetry? Or is it not usually done well enough to be worth the time and effort of scribbling out a page in a book? Maybe this is to say something about black space as opposed to white space. Perhaps we can try it ourselves. For now, let’s take a look at some of Cabbages & Kings‘s stuff:

black
There is no title here, but I think the burned edges of the page add an exciting visual element. There are very minimal words but the poem has a fantasy-feel, especially since it ends in dialogue.

 

purple
Again, no title here. This seems like a pattern in blackout poetry. What do we think of the words connected in pen? Sometimes, blackout poetry allows us to connect words in any order we may read them, but this one’s different in that respect.

If I Had An Orchard

I came across the Indie-Rock Folk band Fleet Foxes not too long ago. In 2011 the band released, Helplessness Blues, a song that I fell deeply in love with the first time it blasted from my TV speakers. It received critical acclaim and was considered one of the best songs of the year. The meaning behind its lyrics are still debated to this day. Some people believe that the song is about the American person’s need to become something greater; to find self-worth in the work that they do. Some believe that the song is about a man growing up and realizing that he is not as special and significant, in the grand scheme of things, as he once thought. And others believe that the song is about Capitalism and the dominance of the government on the average person’s life.

Despite what many think, it is obvious that the song is at its strongest at the very end. The rhythm slows and the bass deepens followed by the band members consistently singing: “If I had an orchard, I’d work till I’m sore.” I feel as if the orchard in this statement stands for many things. Like literature itself, interpretations are varied and numerous. I’d love to know what you lovely folks think of the song and its lyrics. What emotions are emitted in the sounds of the combined instruments? What do you see as you listen to the lyrics? What do you think “Orchard” means in the song? Or, better yet, what does it mean to you? Cheers.

The lyrics can be found here: http://rock.genius.com/Fleet-foxes-helplessness-blues-lyrics