Sunday, April 5, 2015

Day Five ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2015


Day Five. Easter and also Passover. And 1/6 of the way through National Poetry Month. The fractions are moving quickly: two days ago, 1/10; yesterday, a little under 1/7; and now 1/6. If you prefer percentages, 10% of the month gone on day three, 13% on day four, and today 17% (with a little rounding).

Maureen Thorson's NaPoWriMo challenge today is for us to alter a Dickinson poem: "Find an Emily Dickinson poem — preferably one you’ve never previously read — and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it!"

At PAD headquarters, Robert Lee Brewer suggests "a vegetable poem. . . . If you want to write a poem about a specific vegetable, go for it. If you want to write a poem that just has a vegetable mixed in somewhere, go for it. If you want to praise or curse vegetables, go for it. If you want to play with the idea of vegetables, including a vegetable mental state, couch 'potato,' and so on — well, you know, go for it."

I started off by making a list of vegetables with my girlfriend's help — Kathy's eminently better with flora than I. I noticed that the mushroom names were pretty interesting. A little googling revealed that the edible mushrooms include not just the familiar button mushroom and truffle, but also wild varities that have, forgive me, wild names! Shaggy Inkcap, Ox Tongue, Velvet Shank, Sulphur Shelf.

Then I chose a Dickinson poem to play with. ("Fr" below refers to the so-called "Franklin numbers" . . . in 1998 editor R. W. Franklin assigned numbers to her poems to indicate the order he thinks she wrote them. This adjusts (is that the right word?) the "Johnson numbers" assigned by editor Thomas H. Johnson in 1955 corresponding to his theory about composition order. On Wikipedia — ya gotta love Wikipedia — an article lists all Dickinson poems (almost 1800); you can sort it by Franklin numbers,  Johnson numbers, alphabetically by first line, order of publication, and Dickinson's own sorting into packets. Click here to browse that list; it's pretty damn impressive.

Banish Air from Air   (Fr 963)
by Emily Dickinson
Banish Air from Air —
Divide Light if you dare —
They'll meet
While Cubes in a Drop
Or Pellets of Shape
Fit —
Films cannot annul
Odors return whole
Force Flame
And with a Blonde push
Over your impotence
Flits Steam.

I wasn't very good at following directions today, I'm afraid. I merged the Dickinson revision idea with the vegetable prompt, but I didn't alter the dashes and line breaks as Thorson suggested. I did an Oulipo-style exercise with the nouns . . . well, you'll see.

’Shrooms and Corn Smut
After [Banish Air from Air]
by Emily Dickinson (Fr 963)
Banish Chanterelles from Chanterelles —
Divide Portobellos if you dare —
Giant Puffballs will meet
While Saffron Milkcaps in a Lawyer’s Wig
Or Horns of Plenty
Fit —
Shiitakes cannot annul
Snakehead Morels return whole
Force Fairy Ring Champignon
And with a Beefsteak Polypore push
Over your Dryad’s Saddle
Flits El Huitlacoche.
                                                         
Chanterelle Mushrooms
—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

And then I thought of another way to alter, play with, the Dickinson poem. Again no relineations but I did "take out" the dashes and some words as Thorson suggested.

Darkness Tempts
Erasure from Emily Dickinson's
[Banish Air from Air] (Fr 963)
Banish Air from Air —
Divide
Light if you dare —
They'll meet
While Cubes in a Drop
Or Pellets of
Shape
Fit —
Films
cannot annul
Odors
return whole
Force Flame

And with a Blonde push
Over your impotence
Flits Steam.

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Well, I hope those two were fun even though they're not really fully developed as poems of my own. I didn't quite, as Thorson put it, "Make your own poem out of it!"

Alan also merged prompts today. Here's how he tells it: “Well, this one was a puzzle for a while, because we received the challenge to rewrite a Dickinson poem and to write a vegetable poem as well. I started thinking that if Emily Dickinson were to rewrite Andrew Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’ (‘my vegetable love would grow’) that the argument would be both more direct and more abstract. So the following is my taking the passion of her ‘Wild Nights!’ and filtering it through Marvell.”

My Coy One

My coy one, time runs swiftly past —
I’d want — a glacial rate —
We’d roam the world with handclasps — chaste —
Before our final fate —

Devouring time has its demands —
And ripeness falls — to rot
And Nature’s made — by more than hands —
In copse and grove — and grot

Our vegetable love may grow
In cycles — in our Earth —
But spirits learn from spring — and know
We challenge death — through birth

—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

I really appreciate how Alan merges the two poets' sensibilities so well. The line "Nature's made — by more than hands" is SO Dickinson-sounding. And I learned a new word: "grot"; I'll let you have the google bliss of finding out what that is. Great work, Alan.

Friends, won't you comment, please? Love to know what you're thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don't find the word "comments" in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.    Tomorrow it will be 1/5. Or 20%.


NAPOWRIMO / PAD 2015 • Pick a day in April: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


3 comments:

Thomas Alan Holmes said...

Vince, this idea of a Dickenson rewrite might surface again later in the month--consider it another form of erasure, if not distillation.

Vince Gotera said...

Cool. Thanks, Alan.

Thomas Alan Holmes said...

I think you owned these exercises today, though. They appealed to you over and over.

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