Photos Like Sonnets

“Swiss-born artist Rudy Burckhardt put poets on film and made photos work like sonnets.” Check out this article on the only photographer the New York School of Poets considered one of their own.

This marriage of poem and photo, or photo as poem, poem as photo, brings us full circle, from writing with photographs to writing with words, from considering the full arc of story to the sub-atomic level of the textures of words, of syllables, of letters themselves. What a journey it has been, full of discovery for me and the joy of watching you all make your own discoveries about writing and yourselves.

I’m looking forward to our final formal conferences, and then to whatever next place we find ourselves in as writers.

Bon voyage.

The Cento I wrote for you:

A Poem to Young Writers Leaving ENAM 170

Can you see them?
Faces wreathed in smoke,
Swimming through the haze
There and not and there again.

My mother tells me
there are things you don’t do
And there is a difference
Don’t hone your skills
Don’t do your chores
Don’t wait around
For tides to turn
Don’t read your atlas

Does anyone else see the alien in the room?
He is editor to my thoughts. He is always there–
Outline of my imagination restricting without restrictions.
An eye in the corner watches me watch it.

It must have been so hard for this poet
To scrawl this soundless solitary stock
Flee the trees, mountains, metal boxes of things,
mere ceilings, visors, long hairs in the eyes.
He noticed the vines growing from his palms,
crawling between thumb and forefinger,
twisting to the form of his arm.
His brimming coffee cup remains
Though his body has vanished.

To those of us who prefer to listen
To the Clear Moon
While walking in sunshine
A season blue-white,
planes broken sharply by
form and shadow
This world is dark, full of mystery
Our start was destined for success
Silent and slippery beneath the tiny impressions.
Our feet on the pavement actually make a difference
Out there.
Out there the wind blows.
Stand: leave.
this was the rinse cycle
the spinning clean, the
wringing out of debris.

the moon stares down in quiet lines
the window open
that twilight can demand
but from which we shall now digress
In front of the mountain backdrop
A goat in suspenders sings

~with fondness, bg

Being a Poet

I found the following in a response written by writer/editor Jennifer Bosveld of Pudding House Publications and felt that it called back to what we’re trying to do . . .

“Poet is my title and the following is my job description:
Spend 100% of my time observing the relationships between all things living and seemingly not,regardless of what else I am doing.

Capture in mid-air those flashes of perception unlike anything I’ve heard out of the mouths or pens of others and get it down before it’s gone.

Go TOO FAR in my assertions that one thing is another and extend those metaphors logically but not traditionally.

Re-color re-measure re-assess re-name re-do the world in language chunks made of words that have never danced together before.

Brave the wild ride of vocabulary that might only speak to a few but those few could build a church or a university on those notions.

Relish being strange, weird. Celebrate wrong answers; sometimes wrong answers reflect the most creative thinking.

Write about everything and all the time but don’t expect anything to be any good just go WOW when it is and then revise.

Revise again. One more time. Several more times. Learn to love revision.”

When asked what her definition of poetry was, she responded “A relatively little space of word art.”

Wu Ming and collaborative writing

Hey guys. Just a little bit of something interesting I wanted to share. Maddie and Sean and I (anyone else?) were at a lecture yesterday by Roberto Bui, a member of an Italian writers’ collective called Wu Ming. (The name alternatively means “anonymous” or “five writers,” depending on how you pronounce the first syllable.) He gave a really fascinating talk about the new Italian epic — but he also spoke a little bit towards the end about working in a writing collective, collaborative creation and editing, etc.

The idea of serious collaborative work is, to me, incredibly difficult to fathom. But at the same time, the sense of a writing community it must foster is really interesting. What do you guys think about the idea? I’m resistant to the idea of collaborative writing, but I think that’s partly a gut reaction. I’d love to talk about the benefits, pitfalls, reasons for and against.

Another interesting point that Bui brought up had to do with face-to-face work. He insisted that because his group is comprised of friends who meet and work in person, reading their work out loud as they go, their work is “warmer” than work being composed in communities rooted in digital communication. Do you think this is true? It seemed like an interesting point to dive into for our little group of writers, because we’re doing a little bit of both.

I hope you’re all enjoying fiction so far! If nothing else, the Wu Ming approach to writing is a good reminder that there is so much going on in the world of fiction-writing…


I was looking around the web for some more information on Jack Kerouac and came across a piece on NPR (here) that details some aspects of On The Road. The site also has some other interesting bits about Kerouac and his writing in general. You can listen to him reading (which is pretty sweet) and see pictures of the 120 ft. scroll he typed the book on (we weren’t the first to do multi-media experiments, apparently.) Thought I’d share in case you were curious after the reading last night/since I didn’t give you any background on Kerouac today in class.

What Can An Art Class at Another College Teach Us in Our Writing Class?

The Spore Collective Manifesto

I wonder what we as writers can learn from following the experience of this sculpture class at the University of Mary Washington.  Check out the student blogs, too, as they reflect on the experience. What do you think?