Sunday, November 10, 2013

ModPo 2013 #63 Exercises in Defamiliarization: On Mayer's Writing Experiments

For a list of Bernadette Mayer's writing experiment recommendations, check here.

I tried one of her prescribed experiments.
My original poem is here.

Here is the result:

A Writer of Poems to a Writer of Poems

I think of the whiteness of snow
on a postcard from an aunt.
Props in a play.
I have seen it is ice on halo-halo.
Why do I end up speaking
of this?
But this is how I speak:
with a flavor, in essence a blend.
I think of how you must have
shivered in the snow,
words in heart.
I wonder if you dreamt.
Perhaps we dreamt
the dream.
We were born in a land
unused to and awed by:
autumn, winter, spring.
I think of snow and
how it melts,
how these words
will melt.
But I think we wear
our costumes well.

I thought the paring down was very worthy of the imagist movement! My poem is defamiliarized but, I think, strangely potent in its condensed state.

Mayer's list reminds me of what I wrote regarding Baraka's "Incident." I talked about the left hand (and right brain) of language: poetry. It is poetry that can create the gaps and bridge the gaps in ways that no other kind of language can.

In the course of reading Chapter 9.2's chance poets, I would find myself writing some chance phrases as well that stemmed from my right brain:

I woke up already soaped.
I follow the curve of her surprise.


The "chance" method, stemming from existing text, processed through constraint and continuing through the reader serves its purpose: exposing the narrative, exposing the ego, exposing the "naturalized" / "socialized" way that we read and write. But is that it? I doubt it. Aleatory poetry is in a continuum of poetry but poetry continues to evolve.

The thing is, there is no end to this. I've seen my notions of poetry rocked and split to its core in this course. For as long as there is poetry, new writers and movements will redefine it. The only thing that's stable so far is its instability. All throughout 9.2, I've heard the phrase: "This is NOT anything goes." It's a defense of poetry. What's not being said is: poetry is effort-ful. The methods may change but poetry as "wrought/ well wrought" remains. At least as it's taught in this course. I'm still thinking this through and its implications on my own writing. In the meantime, it's worth working on Mayer's other writing experiments.

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