Give Me Space

“Another E.E. Cummings poem, about Buffalo Bill, opens with a few short lines about Buffalo Bill riding on his horse and then hits us with a rushing line followed by another that brings us up short:

and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat

Jesus

You can hear the breathless amazement in the speaker’s voice, and then the pause of the white space, followed by the sudden exclamation of admiration: ‘Jesus.’

Experiment with clumping some words and lines together, and separating others.”

-Kim Addonizio

New World Symphony

Let the goosebumps rise on the back of your neck

Terror shiver down your spine

The CRASH

of cymbals

Tremolo of strings

Listen to the sound of

Fear

Trumpets wailing at the death of babes caught sleeping in the storm

Timpani

pounds

the marching feet

People’s Liberation Army

hunting

People

The whisper of unwanted children to unwanted mothers

Soft melody hiding in their voices

 The beat kept by swaying hips

of prostitutes, strippers

and children

The fermata over rest

of Americans in bed, unafraid, unscarred, opinionated

Directors of the symphony

Getting Sick?

“Devise a system for arranging the words of your poem on the page. You might place abstract words five spaces in. Or put the word “I” in the middle of the page every time it appears. Words you want to emphasize could be in a column down the right-hand side of the page or oppositional words on opposite sides. See if you can dream up ways to make the arrangement of your language engage with its subject matter.”

-Kim Addonizio, “Ordinary Genius”

Are you getting sick of this poem yet? I am. Although, each rewriting has let me see a different possibility for how to present the words. My original was just about the words, but now I’m creating the art.

 

New World Symphony

Let the goosebumps

rise on the back of your neck.

Terror shiver down your spine.

The crash of cymbals.

Tremolo of strings.

Listen to the sound of fear.

 

Trumpets Wailing

at the death of babes

caught sleeping in the storm.

Timpani pounds

the marching feet

People’s Liberation Army

hunting

People

 

The whisper of unwanted children

To unwanted mothers

Soft melody hiding in their voices

The beat kept

                       by swaying hips

                                                Of prostitutes

           strippers

                                             and children

 

The fermata over rest

of Americans in bed:

unafraid

unscarred

opinionated

Directors of the symphony

Prose?

“Take a deep breath, and read some prose you’ve written until that breath naturally runs out. Let that determine your line length for the piece. How long a line is it? Arrange your ‘breath lines’ on the field of the page.”

-Kim Addonizio, “Ordinary Genius”

 

I find these instructions kind of confusing. Am I supposed to turn my prose into a poem? I decided that even if that’s what Ms. Addonizio means, I am not showing you any prose. There is a reason I’m writing poetry. Instead, I read some prose I wrote a long time ago and marked the breath spot. I will then translate that length to the lines in New World Symphony, the poem I’ve been revamping this week. Be warned, I have a decently high lung capacity, so the lines are going to be really long.

After translating the poem to match my breath (and taking a few artistic liberties) I really like how it turned out. Also, I was forced to think about punctuation, which I always need help with in poetry.

 

New World Symphony

Let the goosebumps rise on the back of your neck, terror shiver down your spine, the crash of cymbals, tremolo of strings. Listen to the sound of

fear.

Trumpets wailing at the death of babes caught sleeping in the storm. Timpani poundsthe marching feet: People’s Liberation Army hunting

People.

The whisper of unwanted children to unwanted mothers, soft melody hiding in their voices; the beat kept by swaying hips of

prostitutes, strippers, and children.

The fermata over rest of Americans in bed: unafraid, unscarred, opinionated directors of the symphony.

I Don’t Know About This

“Words often contain other words, or can be disassembled in interesting ways. Look at what E.E. Cummings does in “spoke joe to jack,” about an argument over a girl named alice:

   jack spoke to joe

  ‘s left crashed

  pal dropped

Simply by moving the possessive ‘s, Cummings conveys the sudden movement from a verbal argument to a physical fight. Try breaking apart some words for meaningful effect.”

-Kim Addonizio, “Ordinary Genius”

 

I may have broken apart my lines a little too much. Leave a comment and let me know what works and what doesn’t.

 

 

New World Symphony

Let goose

bumps

rise on the back of your neck

Terror shiv

er down your spine

The crash of cymbals

Tremolo of strings

Listen to the sound

of fear

 

Trumpets wail

                      ing

                           at the death of babes

caught sleeping in the storm

Tim

pa

ni

pounds

the march

ing feet

People’s Lib Army

hunting

People

 

The whisper of unwanted children to unwanted mothers

Soft melody hiding in their voices

The beat

kept

by sway

ing

hips

of pro

sti

tutes

strip

pers

and child

 

The fermata

 

 

 

Over rest

 

 

 

of Americans in bed

unafraid

unscarred

opinionated

 

directing

I’m Back

Sorry about the long break. Life decided that it would speed up and exhaust me. Finding motivation to write after dealing with homework and work work is really hard. But I’m back and hopefully will stay back until the end of summer at least. Fingers crossed and lots of prayers.

“Take a poem you’ve written in conventional left-margin lines, and explode it onto the page. Try these techniques:

1. Keep the same line breaks as in your conventional version, but arrange the lines to make use of the entire page.”

-Kim Addonizio, “Ordinary Genius”

For this series of exercises I will be using New World Symphony, which I wrote back in May. Hopefully it won’t get too old by the time I’m done.

New World Symphony

Let the goosebumps   r   i    s    e

on the back of your neck

                        Terror              shiver               down your spine

The crash of cymbels

Tremolo of strings

Listen to the sound of fear

Trumpets wailing

       at the death of babes

Timpani pounds

the marching feet

People’s Liberation Army

hunting

People

The whisper of unwanted children
                                                                      To unwanted mothers
Soft melody hiding in their voices

The beat kept      

by swaying hips

of prostitutes     

strippers              

and children         

The fermata over rest

of Americans in bed

Unafraid

Unscarred

Opinionated

Directors of the Symphony