Saturday, April 30, 2011

Week 12: Overheard and last post (for a while)!

Well, here we are. This was our last poetry assignment for the semester. We had a creative project due the last week of class (which was this week), but I made a chapbook and I don't know how to scan it. So until that day comes, here lie my last poetry written for English 111, spring 2011, senior year at Penn! :(

§Attention: Write down everything you hear for one hour: it is important to do this for the full time period.

§Write a poem consisting entirely of overheard conversation. (See Kenneith Goldsmith's Soliloquy.)

 I went to Metropolitan Bakery, an upscale, swanky little place. I would love to know what other cafes people went to because there seems to be different associations we have with the ambiance and clientele of each cafe. I didn't particularly like this exercise, but then again I'm not really good at all at copying things down that people said in a hurry. That's why a lot of the sentences are so short. I took just a few liberties with wording for the poems.

Here's the list of things I heard:

Bizarre ringtone that increases and decreases in tone
Dull hum that sounds like white noise in an airplane
“Hey, how are you?”
“The idea that I could, like, sell it to my friends…”
“That’s a nice location.”
Beep, beep, beep, the door opening
Grinding beans, maybe from a coffee or espresso machine
Clink of forks and knives against plate
“Can I get a peanut butter and jelly to go and a, uh”
“Here you go”
Plate sliding on table
Laughter from a man
Heels dragging on hard wood floors
“Got to catch some oxygen, right?”
“Have a nice day.”
“Yep, you, too. Take care.”
Opening cash register and clink of coins as they are counted out.
Dishes and mugs being gathered together
“Thank you”
“Thank you”
“Have a nice day, guys”
“Yeah….oh, okay…yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh. So how was dinner last night? I know. Oh, that’s right. And everyone was already cooking.”
Laughter from a woman
“But it was really pretty fantastic”
“Wonderful, wonderful, yeah.”
Paper cup put on the surface of a counter
Very loud truck driving by outside
Drawing water from a straw through a cup of an iced beverage
Shuffling feet
Chair pulls out
The sound of a piece of limp bacon dropping from one’s mouth onto the plate.
Sound of espresso machine grinding beans, or maybe a blender?
Slam of refrigerator door
“What’s the rest of your day look like?”
“I’ve been here since 6:15”
“Where are you from?”
“I’m just chit chatting here. You can always tell when they’re parents.”
“Yeah, you can spot them a mile away.”
A cash register slams shut
Someone banging something
“So what happened in the middle of the night?”
“A mouse.”
Men’s shoes walking across hardwood floor.
“Do you want a bag for this?”
Shaking out a paper bag.
Something that sounds like a small jackhammer
Full plastic bag drops on bench
Girl ruffles through plastic bag.
Stirring things into a cup of iced coffee
“Shut up.”
“What kind of cheese?”
High pitched swirl and drill of espresso machine
“Thanks, sir”
“Thank you very much”
Women’s laughter
“Not funny, not funny.”
“This is like the least appetizing word I’ve ever heard.”
“And I take the piece of fish, and I doctor it up. But it’s definitely an acquired taste. It’s not an everyday food.”
“Nobody really knows how good they have it.”
Rustling through paper
“I didn’t know that. That’s so crazy.”
“For here or to go?”
Two women laughing about something
Papers put into a backpack
“I never think about it”
Suddenly music turns on. It’s a singer I don’t know.
“I know I got to find some kind of peace of mind”
“What becomes of the broken hearted? Tell me! Tell me!”
Banjo? Playing jazz chords.
Bob Dylan, “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hair”

The Poems based on this:

1. HystericsA man laughing
"So what happens in the middle of the night?"
"Something that sounds like a small jackhammer."
A man laughing
"I didn't know that.
      that's so...
"I never think about it."
Dull hum.
bizarre bizarre
"Do you want...this?"
"Yeah, got to catch some oxygen, right?"
"What becomes of the broken hearted?"
"It's definitely an acquired taste. I doctor it up. That idea I could sell to my friends!"
"Shut up. Not funny. Not funny."
A man laughing, a woman laughing, two women laughing
      about something...
Like white noise in an airplane."

2. GratitudeThank you very much.
Thanks, sir. Thank you, thank you.
Nobody knows how good they have it.
They have:
      good music, good coffee, good espresso, cash, good parents, good days, good bacon, coins, oxygen, heels, hard wood floors, a nice location, an airplane
And laughter.
Wonderful, wonderful.
They never think about it.
What becomes of the broken?
Tell me, tell me.
Suddenly I don't know
"Here you go. Have a nice day."

Week 11

The poems I did for week 11: "Digital and Visual Poetry" were the first things I posted here before I started going in sequential order. So find the link for the labels week 11 on the right, and it should bring you to them.

Week 10: Found Poems, Google Poems

Okay, so for week 10 we were working with found poems. We followed this:

§ Google poem, based on M. Silem Mohammad's Deer Head Nation : use Google search results as the source material for a poem: erase as much as you like, but don't add anything. Many variations possible.
I decided to go with Walt Whitman as my subject.

Look at that sick beard!!!

I want to do one on some other poets, too, to make a kind of series, but I ran out of time. Alas, for another day. It sounded ridiculous to read out all the "by"s in class because they were clearly meant to be looked over when you read them, and only in passing. I hope you'll get that they are supposed to be homonyms for "bi"

"Selections of Walt Whitman"

Rich with historical and cultural value, these works are published unaltered from the original…

He was part of the transition between—
The bridge between—
The founder of this group,
The “Good Gray Poet”—
Free, humble, modest—
Kissed him, Oscar Wilde.

            by        by        by        by        by        by        by        by        by        by        by        by

almost without restrictions
            he wrote
                        “I hear America singing”
            For schoolchildren

He was, is,
did not

almost without restrictions
            he wrote
                        in free verse
                                    “The kiss of Oscar Wilde is still on my lips.”

            by        by        by        by        by        by        by        by        by        by        by        by

Step back in time.

……………………………………… ………………………………… …………………………..

This is for the use of anywhere at no cost and almost no restrictions

Week 9: Short Poems

Hi All,

Well, this is pretty straightforward. This week we worked on short poems...which are exactly what they sound like.

Hay(na) Ku

The form is very straight forward and is related to the haiku. In a nutshell, it is

Two Three
Four Five Six

I loved this form. As you'll see from my poems, it allowed for telling a story or strongly developing the situation with just two really "free" words at the end if you've put a refrain into it. I chose using absolute terms like "always" and "nothing" because they allowed for zero indecision and instead total confidence in what the speaker is saying. There's just no room for wishy-whashiness. Everything is absolute. The third one is probably my favorite one even though it is very imperfect. It gets at, or at least tries to, something I've spent a lot of time thinking about lately, what music is for us, and how it relates to life itself. I'm not an atheist, I'm not an agnostic, I'm not really any one religion, but I've been pondering our closeness to spirituality and what it is and where it is. To that end, poetry seems to me to be carving expression out of truth. And actually when we went over these in class people noted how they seemed kind of like religious chants, which I didn't realize until we read them out loud.

Is better
Than hearing doves

Is better
Than waking cold

Is better
Than morning dew

Is better
Than seeing beauty

Is better
Than feeling content

You tell
Me, go on

You tell
Me, don’t wait

You tell
Me, look beyond

You tell
Me, leave now

You tell
Me, leave me

Could I
Leave you now.

I know,
Is the truth

I know,
Is my transcendence

I know,
Is the sublime

I know,
Is what God meant.

I know,
Is an echo

I know,
Is our life

I know,
Is everything, everything.


Haikus are always a fun form. I used to write them in class in high school when I was bored. What I love about them is how much they can capture in such limited space. I also love that they're based in rhythm!


Daddy, you told me
That you’ll always be with me
Your face, in the mirror.


I found him floating
Bloated and grey, fins spread out,
With his eyes still open.


What are these last thoughts
That trouble me so, saying,
Do not be afraid?

Week 8: Jabberwocky and Alliteration

Hello all,

This week was super fun and also one of the more challenging constraints.

§Write a poem made up entirely of neologisms or nonsense words or fragments of words.  (Cf.: Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky", Khlebnikov's zaum, Schwitters's "Ur Sonata," P. Inman's, Ocker, Platin  and Uneven Devlelpment  and David Melnick's Pcoet: all via Eclipse). Use Neil Hennessy's JABBER: The Jabberwocky Engine to generate lexicon. Also see The International Dictionary of Neologisms.
I chose to do this and an alliteration poem.

I've always loved nonsense verse. There's a great museum nearby here, the Brandywine River Museum, that regularly features children's literature illustrators and writers, like Edward Gorey, and I've been to a couple of their exhibits (it's an awesome museum! If you get the chance, go!). So writing a jabberwocky-esque poem in this tradition was so much fun. I hadn't had the opportunity to do one myself until now. I think that we were supposed to do only nonsense words, but I started out with a made up word "verrog" and realized that pretty much any word from any language that you aren't familiar with can sound like nonsense. I felt this way when I started learning German after studying French for six years! Everything sounded the same. So after reading/hearing "verrog," if you didn't know it, anything after could be seen as "jabberwocky." I also used a lot of "forgotten" (i.e. obsolete) English words/expressions, having been enamored with archaic English a few years ago when my dad bought me the "Forgotten English" word-a-day calendar.

Anyway, here it is! There's a glossary/dictionary at the end. As I say there, the only words that are defined are actual words. If a word isn't in there it's made up.


My verrog,
Anechka, she scurryfunges
Before Mr. Stie arrives for dinner
And we sit down together to plan the menu.
Chaddy figogine, beas, alligpipe, and Nudeln fresh caught from der Norden
Off the coast of das Nordirland in the sandy, salty Nordsee.
We do this to impress Mr. Stie
After all he is my boss.
And I am up for a big florn, soon.
Hark, and thus comes Mr. Stie!

At dinner we eat together,
And Mr. Stie tells us stories of days of yore
When my Eldfather stole my Eldmutter from him.
They were once in love.
He lowled my father, too, a remembrance of how he lost her to another.
And on he goes, and on and on
And I think he is starting to lowl me now. 
Is there lingering jealously?  Does he hate that I am her child, albeit the burdalane?
But at that moment
Flew out the doves from the uzzle-pie,
And we laughed together, the mead was good,
The night was young.

And on his way out the door, drunk as a skunk, he turned to me.
“You slaughtered the geit well today, my boy.
Give my compliments to your verrog.
She makes most extraordinary glwedd!
And because you have made me such a merry fellow
I want you to know
That I have made up my mind,
You are the fellow for the starf.
I will see you at 6 am sharp!”
So I went back to my verrog and hugged her so,
“My dear, we can now afford to have a child.
So let’s bring one into a urber like this.
Onwards to bed!”

Glossary: Words that aren’t defined here are nonsense words from the Jabber nonsense word generator)

Anechka: Russian girl’s name which means “grace”
Wedfellow: spouse, of either gender (Forgotten English).
Scurryfunge: a hasty tidying of the house between the time you see a neighbor and the time she knocks on the door (1882) (Forgotten English)
Nudeln: “Noodles,” German
Nordland: “the North,” German
Nordirland: “North Ireland,” German
Nordsee: “North Sea,” German
Eldfather and Eldmother: Grandfather and Grandmother.  Forgotten English (though I changed “mother” to “mutter,” which is the German word for “mother”)
Burdalane: the last child surviving in a family, Forgotten English
Uzzle-Pie: “was a spectacle rather than a dish. From a 1549 recipe we learn how to bake 'pyes so that birds may be alive in them and flie out when it is cut up'. The crust is filled with temporary contents such as dried beans, to weigh down the bottom and support the top; then emptied and replaced by blackbirds. When the top is removed the birds began singing… and there we have the story of 'Sing a Song of Sixpence'.” (Forgotten English)
Geit: the Old Norse word for “goat.”
Gwledd: Welsh word for “feast” 
Starf: Icelandic word for “job”

 Okay, next up: alliteration poem!

§ Alliteration (assonance):  Write a poem in which all the words in each line begin with the same letter.
 I was really involved in my high school newspaper, which was vastly, vastly different from most student newspapers in that you could write length articles about pigeons and Spring Heeled Jack and have a "bird of the month" column. Anyway, we really encouraged alliteration for our titles, so oftentimes we would make up really silly ones. In fact, on the application to be an editor we had a section where you are given a picture and asked to come up with a title for it, and the application always had ("alliteration encouraged!") next to it. Ah, the days. This definitely brought me back to a much more laid back time.

-Alliteration (assonance) Poem-

My mother makes me miserable,
Always annoying and attacking,
Her hopeless and helpless,
Daughter. Doubting her doting,
I infer irritation,
Heated hatred.
Distant and defiant,
I went where weed was
To buy a bit to breathe.
Inhaling this indulgence,
I forgot for a flash
I must make amends.
So I said, "Sorry,
And now no one knows
We were ever at war.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week 7: Twitter Poem, "You"


So I guess I never did any of the actual exercises for this week other than the spring break assignment:

in process: collaborative "Twitter" poemSpecial assignment over this break. Each seminar member will open a Twitter account using their first name or first and last name followed by "111". This will be a closed Twitter group just for class. All the messages will be part of a collaborative poem. Each participant will produce and post a version of this poem before March 13.

Twitter Poem: “You”

I am listening to the night.
I am still trying to find you.
I hear the music.
I hear you.
I am listening to you.
You always sound the same.
You always smell the same.
You lick the back of my neck.
You can have me.
I can’t control how much I want you.
Your limbs drape over mine at night.
And I don’t even need a blanket to stay warm.
When looking at you from below, it’s hard to believe you are real.
You can have me.
Inefficiency of language…
Too much…
You hit me with…bricks…with…anger…with…wild, play.

Extinguished light.

What’s the price of a good night?
Virgin devastation?
I have a theory:
Scattered snow on the side of the road.
I thought that I had done some of the exercises, but I suppose not. Huh. Well here's the Twitter poem I did. For this I resumed with taking the raw feed material and cherry picking what I wanted to use. I'm going to hunt around and find the feed if I can. This is something I see as along the same lines as the DP as trying to find what was going on between the lines.

Week 6: Without Rules, (K)not!, or Is Free Writing Free?

Okay, so this was kind of bland.

§ Autopilot: Trying as hard as you can not to think or consider what you are writing, write as much as you can as fast you can without any editing or concern for syntax, grammar, narrative, or logic. Try to keep this going for as long as possible: one hour, two hours, three hours: don't look back don't look up.
There were many other exercises to try for this week, but it was a really busy week and I couldn't get to all of them. My autopilot was very bland. It was interesting to see how everyone else's was different in class. Some people's autopilots were more fragmented than mine, and most were longer than mine. Hmm. Well, there's no secret here. I take medicine which has side effects like making me sleepy or drowsy to calm down over-excitement. I wonder what this would have looked like had I not taken my medicine on time. I hope I'll never know.

The circumstances that I wrote this were: I was working solo at the cafe on Oscar night. Most people were at the Oscar viewing party in the other building of the dorm, so I was following it on blogs. I had seen the first hour or two, so I had a general idea of who was wearing what and what happened. We had a Oscars competition where you put your picks on the ballot. I won first prize! It was very exciting as I got to order three DVDs of my choosing (I chose Out of Africa, The Dark Knight, and The Fighter).

And the autopilot:

Are the Oscars as much a waste of time as I complain they are? I don’t know. I guess I was thinking earlier when I was coming back from the grocery store about Helen Mirren and how much the Oscars at the very least highlight some of the leaders of the acting field/Hollywood. I liked her dress. Someone commented on my facebook status where I said that my favorite gowns so far were ScarJo, Hailee Steinfeld, and Helen Mirren (I forgot Mila Kunis) that she hoped that she would age just as well as Helen Mirren and I guess I do too. Having white hair like that must be really awesome, silver. I don’t know what color mine will turn when I’m older because I started out platinum blonde but I’ve dyed it since then and now it’s some ugly color, so when your hair turnds grey or white does it do that from its original color or from the color it is right now? My german teacher has grey hair but hers is brown also and maybe she had some highlights. I don’t know how old she is. She seems quite young.

I’m following the results the winners on a New York Times live blog since I’m at work now and don’t have time to don’t have the energy to or really the desire to work on my German composition right now, but that sucks because sooner or later I’m going to have to do it when I get back to my room and that won’t be till midnight and even though its 11:33 now midnight seems a little late to be working on things but I guess I don’t have a choice because I have to get up early to morrow 6L30 and get to the cafĂ© to take care of the pastries and usually all I want to do after that is go back to bed when I get back to my room at 7:30 ish so if I don’t do the essay now then I’ll have to not sleep tomorrow but I really need to because I have class from 1-5 and 6:00-7:30 and the esasy is due at one. Hm. I think it’s interesting whether or not we write out numbers “one” vs 1. I guess when I think about the number one/1 I think about it in the spelled out sense. It would be weird of me to just use the number key though I know some people do it that way but I don’t know why, shorthand or something? Who knows.

By the way I couldn’t get the link to work for the poet wie were supposed to read  the link that Preofeser Bernstein sent out, I couldn’t find the poems on her website but I did well I did but

My dad just texted me apparently King’s Speech won for Best Picture. I figured it would it was a good movie not my favorite out of the 10 I liked The Fighter best but there was no way it was going to win still I’m happy that Christian Bale and Melissa Leo won though I would have been happy if Hailee Steinfeld won for True Grit. But it wasn’t going to happen. Oh well, maybe she’ll be nominated again some day. I can certainly see someone with her talent making it with other good movies I just hope she doesn’t turn out to be like Lindsay Lohan but I don’t think she will. Her film showed maturity and she held her own against the other actors and I even think was better then them then Jeff Bridges who I couldn’t even understand at all with his accent so she did a good job in that I can’t imagine her turning into a ho after getting a start with a Coen Brothers movie like True Grit.

I have nothing more to say.