Saturday, April 30, 2011

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.

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