Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Way of Jazz

The Jazz you can play
isn't the real Jazz.
The Jazz you can sing
isn't the real Jazz.

Horn & Ivory
begin in No-Jazz:
Jazz is the mother
of the American Songbook.

Jazz is empty,
used, but not used up.
Deep, yes ancestral
to the American Songbook.

Horn & Ivory aren't humane.
To them the American Songbook
is a straw dog.

Wise souls aren't humane.
To them Fats & Miles
are straw dogs.

Horn & Ivory
act as a bellows:

Empty yet structured,
they move, inexhaustibly giving.

Horn will last,
Ivroy will endure.
How can they last so long?
They don't exist for themselves
and so can go on and on.

True swing
is like water.
Water's good
for everything.
It goes right
to the low loathsome places
and so finds a way.

Once upon a time
people who knew Jazz
were subtle, spiritual, mysterious, penetrating

To follow Jazz
is not to need fulfillment.
Unfulfilled, one may live on
needing no renewal.

Selections from Ursala K. Le Guin's rendering of the Tao, substituting words as follows:
Jazz: Name, Way
Horn: Heaven
Ivory: Earth
American Songbook: 10,000 things
Fats & Miles: the hundred families
Swing: goodness

Guin, Ursula K. Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching : A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way. United States: Shambhala Publications, Incorporated, 2009. 2-24. Print. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dream Café

I got the bum's rush from the Dream Café.

OK, I guess that deserves some explanation.
Woke from the edge of a dream around 2 a.m.:
a modest indoor café – nice wooden tables,
no table cloths.  I was alone at a table with four chairs.
I was writing.
I think I was writing poetry.

The waiter was familiar. The café was not.
There were several pages around me.
No plates, no service ware, not even a cup of joe;
just sheets of paper, one beneath my right hand,
the rest fanned out in a small arc just above.
I was bent over, consumed in my writing.

I think I was alone in the café.
The tables were good quality wood,
not laminate or Formica.
But – no table cloths, no candles.
I'd guess it was a moderately-priced café.

This dream is almost two-days old,
and the path back is drenched in fog.
The memories are indistinct, and
intermingling with my quotidian road.

The waiter was familiar.
He sheepishly approached me:
“I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave
if you're not going to buy anything.”

That's when I woke up.
With dream fragments
to go.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Poetry Month Scouting Wrap Up

These two questions come from a survey sent by the Found Poetry editors:

  1. What did you like best about the project? What parts came easy to you?
    I appreciated the challenge of the prompts; some were more challenging than others (a couple using websites as resources were especially frustrating).  But I felt a sense of accomplishment in over coming these challenges.  Any prompt that asked the poet to use the source material as "word banks" were the easiest.
    Having a goal of completing at least half the prompts (15 out of 30) was freeing; I felt very successful in completing 28 out of 30.
  2. What did you like least about the project? What parts were difficult for you?
    I remember three websites that were challenging for me: the one for Haiku Anew, the erasure tool for Redacted, and the diastic tool for Spelling B.  I'll admit some of that challenge was likely due to my own time limitations, and concurrent impatience. I knew the "Out and About" prompts would be challenging – and the editors warned us these prompts would challenge our comfort zones.  As it turned out, I completed all but two of those "Out and About" prompts (the two which required the highest level of interaction with the public). 

I chose to take on this project with two goals: to flex my poetry muscles, and to generate more content for my blog.  The prompts have forced me to think of poetry in new ways (e.g., it doesn't necessarily have to tell a coherent story), and have given me some ideas for how to break writer's block in the future.  Since I was essentially writing a poem a day, I had to accept that many of these poems would be mediocre at best - some might not even qualify as poems. It was a good way to enforce the William Stafford method of writing a poem a day - I lowered my standards, of necessity.

As for generating content, I've had more posts this month than in some time, through writing about the process of responding to the prompts.  The links to the PoMoSco site will remain available to the general public through the end of May; after that point, I'll decide which poems to repost on this blog.  Flexing those muscles may inspire me to set myself a modest goal of writing at least one poem a week (or month).

I especially enjoyed the prompts which directed the poet to use text(s) as a word bank. I tend to get stuck on images and words, and this was a good way to break out of that habit.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Short Takes: PoMoSco Update

C1 2 B1 was in response to the Orders Up prompt.  I went to Jeff's County Cafe on Classen, a greasy spoon I go to about once a month.  The title comes from what I typically order for breakfast.

At the Comic Com was written in response to the All Ears prompt. The directions involved going to a public space and copying down as many snippets of conversation as possible, then converting that to a poem.  I picked up a free paper at Jeff's and saw there was a small comic con in town on the same day, and decided to go. One thing that's unique about this poem is that it has embedded PSAs; I'm very pleased the editors let them stand.

A Monk and His Book was drawn from Mark Twain's first book, The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim’s Progress; the word bank was derived by phone number, as described in the Dialed In prompt.

Blue Earth People was derived from a page from Desert Notes by Barry Lopez.  The Click Trick prompt is an erasure variant using Photoshop (or equivalent) to obscure unwanted words.  The resulting poem makes Lopez sound like a cranky misanthropic anthropologist.

Family is a Gift forced me to get some exercise and fresh air by walking in random directions around my neighborhood.  I wrote down as many words as possible on this "Chance Walk".  I remindend myself that many cars names can serve dual purpose as nouns or verbs (e.g., dart). The poem has an embedded ad for the burger joint down the street from my house (technically, a link to its Twitter feed).  The title comes from a sign on the door of an abandoned house.

The As Advertised prompt challenged the poet to use notices on a community bulletin board as word banks.  As it turned out, my favorite bookshop (the only locally-owned new bookshop I'm aware of) didn't have many notices up.  Their bulletin board is in a small entry way, so I decided it would be simplest to read the notices into an electronic device (in this case, a Samsung Tab).  The device "misheard" serveral words (e.g., "yoda" for "yoga" and "sister" for "Sedaris"); I chose to preserve these "mondregreens" for this Earth Day poem.

Listening to Shame was derived from Krista Tippett's On Being interview with Brené Brown.  This was in response to the Quiet on Set prompt; my reading of the directions caused me to keep many phrases intact. I received a positive response to one of those phrases; it's not a verbatim quote (which would've been breaking the rules), but it's darn close.

Another poem which seems very beholden to its source material is Rise Up Young Heart, which comes from a meditation by Bp. Steven Charleston. He graciously granted me limited permission to re-purpose his writing.  I haven't decided whether to reprint it here; it seems at best an abridged version of his original work. This was done in response to the Cut It Out prompt, where the poet literally cut out the unwanted words and phrases with an exacto knife. I thought the scan of the document would be more interesting if I put a picture behind the page.

Hard Without Glasses was in response to the Best Laid Plan prompt. The text comes from “The Alcoholic Veteran with the Washboard Cranium”, a remembrance by Henry Miller.  Not sure this is entirely successful, but it was worthy experiment.

Beautiful Renewal is the last poem written in response to one of the official prompts. Since I was going to miss two prompts, I decided to revisit one of the prompts I'd already completed (one of the Badge Masters did the same thing). I simply revisited Substitute Texter, since my previous attempt had been relatively successful.  The substitutions for this poem were chosen at random from words left over from the Cut It Out prompt; inspired by the work of P.F. Anderson, I decided to construct this as a pantoum.

I only had to create one more "found poem" to have written 30 poems in 30 days, so I set my own challenge, which appears immediately below (Psalm 4: Lord of the Exploding Universe).  The result is sort of a cross between the Substitute Texter and Interloper prompts, since I exchanged some words from the sermon for words in the psalm.