Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Poem A Day and ... Chaos

I've decided to take on the Poem A Day challenge issued by Robert Lee Brewer on the Writer's Digest blog site. I decided this yesterday, so I'm a bit behind. Yet I wrote two complete poems yesterday and have started on three others, so perhaps not so far behind. April is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate it than to write a stack of poetry?

The more I focus on writing poetry the more I begin to notice it in everything I do. The breeze blowing in through the window; the way my cat begs for my tea, then backs up, licking her nose in protest to the sharp smell of the packet when I offer it to her; even the accident last night wherein the driver of a U-HAUL failed to take into account the height of his truck and got wedged under the railroad bridge near my house: there's poetry in all of it. It's given me a feeling of brevity of language again. And of course my Handbook of Poetic Forms is getting a lot of use. It's the most useful book I ever bought for a college class. Thanks, Professor Nestler!

I've also begun to be curious about flash fiction: stories written in 1000 words or less. It's the next step up from poetry, in my estimation, and it could be as good for me as the poetry challenge seems to be.

One of the quick forms of poetry I'm going to be doing this month is the lune. It's a variant of haiku, adapted for English, which uses fewer syllables than does Japanese, according to poet Robert Kelly, who devised the form in the 1960s.

Last night I spent some time working in "Wreck This Journal", a book given me by a dear online friend. The idea of the book is to basically destroy it, via the instructions within. Creative instructions. Weird instructions. Crazy instructions. Things like "take the journal in the shower with you" and "tie a string to the journal and take it for a walk". The very idea of destroying a book is sacrilege to me, but this book's purpose is to be creatively damaged. I wanted it because I thought it would be a good exercise for me. It's really fun to work with. In fact, the first lune of the month was written about this experience:

finding my chaos
Wreck This Journal
I'm a kid again

(...though now that I look closer at this, written last night, I realise I've done 5/4/5 syllables, not the 5/3/5 I was supposed to have done. I blame Wreck This Journal for influencing me with its rule-breaking ideas!)

Take a look at some of the user images on the Amazon site. They're awesome. Working with this book is really quite freeing, in a periodically cringe-inducing way. Once I fill it up a bit I'll do some of the more destructive prompts. Don't know how I'll feel walking down the street with a book on a makeshift leash, bumping and dragging along behind me, but it sounds like fun! If someone asks me what I'm doing, I'll show them the journal. "I'm just following the directions," I'll say.

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