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

A Poem by Robert Haas

From Alex, Robert Haas’s “Heroic Simile” (He is the 2008 Pulitzer winner)

Please share the poems (and stories and essays, of course) you come across during your writerly wanderings. How about compiling a collaborative list of must-reads for the summer?

Poetry Out Loud

Here’s a brief article from the Washington Post about the annual poetry recitation contest at GW University. The quotation from John Barr at the top of page two seems particularly fitting to our discussions last week about how important the sounds of words to our poems.

May Day Poem Exercise

bleeding hearts unfurl in the april garden

In honor of May Day, here’s a playful prompt:

A 14-line poem about May

  • Every line must contain in addition to whatever other kinds of syllabled words you like, one (and only one) two-syllable word and one three-syllable word.
  • A rich sound texture using repeated sounds and rhythms–you choose how
  • The following words: stone, clever, melt, yellow
  • A line “lifted” from the poem you memorized

Patchwork Poems

Feeling frustrated by this poetry business? Centos can really loosen up your creative machinary. A cento (latin for “patchwork) is a collage poem made up entirely (or almost entirely) of lines from other people’s poems. By rearranging or decontextualizing lines from other poems, your task is to create your own poem by stealing from other accomplished artists. As John Donne once said, “All other things to their destruction draw.” Check out the blog Centobingo, created by Breadloaf alum Matt Hart, dedicated to Centos. Or check out my (maddie’s) variation, which is composed entirely of chapter headings from a table of contents: what-difference-a-wing-makes

Translating poetry

Last night in workshop, Sean read “Keeping Quiet” (“A Callarse”) by Neruda. I don’t know who the translator was (Sean?), but it was well done and was conscious of rhyme, sound, and rhythm in the new language. A few of us noted, though, that we have read really bad translations that preserve little of (what we presume is, I suppose) the original author’s intent. And the whole idea of a translation is that a third party is rewriting the original work, using his own interpretations of the author’s intent – is this not a complete bastardization? So this brought up the question for me of whether or not we should even read translations. I guess we could just go learn every language… Thoughts?

Poetry Reading TODAY (Wednesday)

Hi guys — I just heard about a poetry reading happening tomorrow in the Grand Salon in the Chateau. The poet’s name is Fiona Sampson. I don’t know much else about the reading, but it’s at 4:30, and if you have a bit of free time in the afternoon it will probably make a lovely addition to our sliding into poetry this unit. You can read one of Sampson’s poems, and a bit about the poet, here.