Thursday, June 26, 2008

today's assignment

Go ahead and try this one:

Take any poem of at least 10 lines (a loved poem or a hated one) and choose 20 powerful words. these must be active verbs or nouns. NO ADJECTIVES please. Now create a 10 line poem of your own using these words as end words or beginning words. Do NOT be concerned with "getting a good poem" here... just see what happens.

Post it.

A poem for today

I want you to see what I mean about endings. Here is a recent poem where the endings are carefully chosen for power. Look at the end of each line and also the end words of each stanza. See how they move the poem along and create dramatic tension. Tell me what YOU think. 

Welcome to the poet's room

Here is the place for poetry-related subjects, for looking at my process, and for some teaching. I will post at least once a week, with thoughts and at least once a week with some idea or lesson. 

Today for example, I bought a couple new books, including Susan Woolridge's book on craft as it springs from unexpected non-poetic spaces. I am excited to get that and a book I bought on line. I think a lot about line and its importance. More specifically, I think about ends and beginnings. I get very frustrated with poems where the end words seem capriciously chosen by the poet. When I see throwaway words such as "for" or "the" at the end of a line I grimace and wonder what the hell the poet was doing there. These words do NOTHING for me as far as advancing the line or the feeling or the stanzaic power. Call me crazy, but I like to be shoved into uncommon spaces and motivated to keep going. With so many amazing oems out there, why read on when the words drip in stasis at the ends of lines. I think it is RARE that these throwaway words DO something there at the ends of lines.

Beginning words are important too (just ask the French who believe these more important than the end words!) I look for words that zip and zing at the fronts of lines and stanzas.  I recently taught an online class (ask how YOU can take one of these from me) and asked the students to seriously consider the ends and beginnings and to stretch the limits of using words of power in both places. We got some AMAZING results. You will too.