Saturday, September 13, 2014

HOW TO NOT NOT WRITE A POEM: notes for self for a future poem during a severe bout of writer's block

Begin somewhere, in fact anywhere is a better place. Do not say to yourself what is a poem. 

(to be read by someone not older than forty but not younger than four)

Someone's called a meeting, they have
(channel the griots:if Okpewho is to be relied upon :-) then this is to be read much in the way of an elderly Bamba Suso i.e. quietly without histrionics)
was I was too busy hearing everything to know
to really know a this (what?) thing

(consider lineation- small letters to open each line, no?)
Was I asleep when the messenger came
what tongue did he use, did they say?
did he wear his cow hide garment
whip his whisk of a tail
did he say my name, did he?

(think about form? structure versus free verse)
tell him to tag me, I've no door to knock on
someone say you and mean me
its the only tongue i have left
i have given back every borrowed other  (don't try to be clever to the point of undoing the poem, let it talk, listen) 
anything on loan has been returned, willingly
and now how to talk

(sneak in fresh metaphor. literal translation perhaps/riddle-proverb untranslatability…)
but I've forgotten how to do that thing
to swap a G for that soft H, the way grandma did
or how to say any thing in more than forty characters

(what is the poem trying to say? who is the speaker: ask yourself all those critical thinking/common sense 101 questions)
when i was young, it was the   knights thieves? who...
and 1001 nights, imagine
how much of a story you could tell in
in that much time

time. time tj? (ok now what to do with it. Half way through pray if you must, sample prayer follows: Dear Apollo and all that is itan, where in the world are the words? Amen or substitute as per faith or lack thereof)

I was too busy plugged in  (blinders? hard work to make it cohere but could work)
thats the thing to (reference horses here. relevant? avoid trying to show all your hands at once perhaps for another poem)

the unicorns are throwing off their chains
if freedom is dangerous (prose or poetry - quote from somewhere? consider how this resonates beyond 'I am, I love, I need' Baraka said you must have some understanding of the world beyond self, is this happening here)

and on every mountain (Where is this meeting happening? if on say a mountain avoid cliches  i.e. name, adjectives all that jazz, keep it fresh and explore making friends of your nouns and adjectives, unusual pairings of what may appear to be strange bedfellows, as per my coffee break with KM this week - are your mountains shivering or are they just there? how do you feel about this? )

every buffalo soldier (how and who now? oh yes there was a meeting called at the beginning perhaps you might want to circle back to the initial impetus for writing the poem or to, as Taylor Mali says, 'the nugget of truth' this could help stop you form attempting to fit the whole world in this one poem instead of snap-shot'ing)

note to self: I'm afraid writing is itself an occupational hazard, rest between nose bleeds, sleep on it, switch off editor in head, try to have fun, abandon then safely stow notes if like me -above- you cannot /yet/ salvage the narrative or the music of the poem, listen to the advice above the way I haven't, if it suits you, and find that other book by… also when poetry starts feeling like a foreign language perhaps listen to the Spanish language translator Edith Grossman and get a day job, unless you absolutely "must" write poetry or are independently wealthy.

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