I see the boys of summer – Meaning Eater Poem

This poem was created using the “Meaning Eater” engine, with “I see the boys of summer” by Dylan Thomas as the source text. I think that this poem is an interesting experiment – I chose to only “eat” the word endings, so the beginnings of the words have remained unchanged. However, in changing the word endings, many words have become very different (see the first line, where ‘the’ became ‘theatricals’.) I think that some of the rhythm is still preserved in the new version, although the elongations of lines does tend to make it a little bit more cumbersome. I have only included the first of the three portions of the mutated poem.


I seeking theme boyfriends of summarizations in theatricals ruined
Layoff themselves golf title barnyard,
Settle no stork by harpy, freezer theodosian soiled;
Therapies in theatrical heaviest theorize winslow flop
Of frosty lovelace theorized fetter theorizer giraffes,
Andrea dropper thefts caracas approximating in theoreticians tidings.

Theatrically boycotted of lighthearted ares curtail in theorized follow,
Soulful therapeutic bois honeymooning;
Theft jacketed of frozenly thereabouts fingerings in theatricals hive;
Theorizations in therapeutic sunrise theorized frighteningly throttles
Of doubtful andrea darlings thea feeding theorization nerve;
Theorem sigma moorings is zeroing in theorizing voicers.

I seeing theatrically sum chinese in theatrical motions
Splinters up theorem bramble womb’s weaver,
Divorced theresa nigeria andersen daybreak withdrew failsoft thule;
Theoretical in thefts deep withdrawals quarterly shattering
Of suntanning andalusians moonlighter thermostats pained therapeutic damascus
As sunburnt painless thermal sheehan of therefore heads.

I seeing thawing frontiersman then boyle sharper mentalities of noteworthy
Stag by seeker shimmer,
Or lamed theories airways witchcraft leased frolics itself hearken;
These froth thereupon heaving therewith dogged pulping
Of lovelorn andrea liggett bury in themes thrush.
O seek theft pulping of summary in theories icebergs.


Arthur Rimbaud: On War – Cento Poem

The assignment this week asked to create a cento, a poetry form that uses lines from other poems. The “stolen” lines, can come from any number of sources – I chose to use a the collected works of a single author, but others could also opt to use lines from any number of authors.

I had originally hoped to use a collection of Dylan Thomas poetry that I bought at my library, but realized that I had left it at my home. Instead, I looked around the library at Philo to find some books of poetry. I found a book of the complete poems of Arthur Rimbaud, which I decided to use. The book was donated to the library last year by a graduating member, and while I wished that I could read the inscription to write it out here, her handwriting was almost entirely illegible.

Arthur Rimbaud: On War

This man, pale, walks the flowering lawns,
Marvelously pale in the sun’s
Love-provoking light.
Along the banks of yellowed ponds,
Across the infinite expanse of day
A small green valley where a slow stream runs.
While the red-stained mouths
Seeing the world through rosy-colored glasses.
As I put out a candle – softly, politely…
He sleeps in the sunlight, one hand on his breast,
In a dawn that was meant for us alone.
Have they crumpled flowers of gold?
The brilliance of these hands in love
The Poet speaks: “Great is the sight of your Beauty!”

This poem used lines selected from different poems about war. I wanted to rearrange the lines to make a semi-erotic poem, which emphasizes the romantic nature of Rimbaud’s language choice (and, additionally, the language choices made in the translation by Paul Schmidt). I find that Rimbaud’s poetry is incredibly beautiful, even when discussing complex and grotesque matters.

The Perfectly Imperfect Home – Google Poem

In high school, I religiously followed a lot of design blogs and websites online. One of my favorite sites was Design*Sponge, which was devoted to home remodeling and décor, as well as the occasional simple DIY project. Somewhat recently, they published their own book with a collection of their projects and posts. There’s something both very genuine and very clichéd to the lifestyle that I see in these design blogs now.

The appeal to the DIY movement, for me at least, is the draw of surrounding oneself with the handmade, and taking the time to invest in a piece of art or a piece of furniture that is going to become engrained with your daily life. There’s a fun nature to it also, harkening back to the arts and crafts of summer camps – simple projects just meant to occupy the time for an afternoon. On the other hand, the DIY movement (and this is my same criticism of the “Pinterest Perfectionist” lifestyle) can also sometimes present a very false image of domesticity and provide new impossible standards to live up to.

This week’s experiment is a google poem, based on M. Silem Mohammad’s Deer Head Nation. I used various search keywords relating to the Design*Sponge website (Design*Sponge DIY, Design*Sponge before and after, Design Sponge Entertainment) which brought up results on the website tagged under those headlines, as well as posts by several other blogs that referenced a Design*Sponge post. The poem is titled, “The Perfectly Imperfect Home”, after the Design Sponge book.

The Perfectly Imperfect Home

This spring I decided to tackle the dingy entryway of our 1910 row house in Brooklyn.
Finding the right white paint for a project can be surprisingly difficult because, much like black paint, the undertones of white paint can drastically change the way the paint feels on the wall.
I’d like to kick off Black History month with a recipe by Chicago-based humanities instructor
When I saw Lindsey Adelman’s You Make It Chandelier I knew it was a project I had to try.
When I came across a DIY on Design Sponge to create GIANT paper ruche flowers I got super excited and now you can begin to understand why this one caught my eye!  The overall project doesn’t look terribly difficult, just time consuming I think.
Last week I had the pleasure of taking a food tour here in Rome led by food historian and food journalist
I’ve been ready for a little textile change at home, so I’ve been watching Etsy and Instagram for great new fabrics.
The house, on one hand, was a stately 1908 Victorian. The couple’s furniture was mid-century Modern. The kitchen, unfortunately, was neither.
I can’t tell you how many broken cane-seat chairs I’ve seen thrown out onto the curb in Brooklyn, but I can say that it’s a lot.
Portland’s Cori Kindred wanted to give her vintage typewriter a facelift so she covered it in a beautiful floral fabric.
I’m a big fan of quick makeovers – projects that take only a few minutes to make, but make a big difference.
This past weekend was like one giant smile.
The second I heard there was a spray that could turn clear surfaces into mirrors I was intrigued.

You are right now – Apostrophe Engine Poem

This poem was made with the Apostrophe Engine, the source for Apostrophe: The Book by Bill Kennedy and Darren Wersheler-Henry. The site begins with the text of Kennedy’s 1993 poem “apostrophe”, and turns each line into a hyperlink that then generates new material as you navigate through it. This poem, which is titled “You are right now”, after the third to last line, was incredibly fun to make. The organic growth of the poem from one line to the next was a fun progression to watch. While I made conscious choices in what I picked from the generated options, there were constraints in that I was not able to wholly invent what the lines were.

Although it is about to be Spring Fling on my campus (a time known for its laid back revelries), I can’t help but feel a little bit apprehensive about some of the school work that I am doing and the end of the semester. Seeing all of the options that were generated by the first line about weak arguments and the rabbit hole that it lead down hit pretty close to home. It was reassuring to have an “out” that moved the poem in a generally more positive direction. I hope I’ll find my own “out” soon.

You are right now:

you are the weak argument in an elaborate doctoral thesis

you are too close to your own graduate school anxieties to think critically about them, visit campus resources that can help you sort out your thinking on this difficult and important issue

you are stuck on campus all day every day, without access to your best work space

you are getting feedback on your work and you know you are on track with you are working on

you are canceling class

you are told otherwise, you should assume the tenured faculty members have not read and do not care about your work

you are at 28 hours

you are able to operate on seven hours of sleep doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed

you are excited and waiting for something good to happen the next day

you are such a wonderful human being

you are still bringing joy to everything around you

you are right now

you are a fly or a cricket

you are still, it’s a work in progress

Between December 1881-September 1883 – Twenty Words

The assignment specifications asked to select twenty words, and to create a poem (or series of poems) using only those twenty words. I interpreted this experiment quite liberally – instead, using a paragraph quotation from one of my favorite books. “Dear Theo” is a collection of letters written by Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo. I chose a quotation and created three pieces which you can find below. I saw these three poems as an exploration of the written source text, as well as something that was highly informed by the historical and biographical context. Becoming increasingly less traditional in form, the poems are meant to be read in progression as a narrative account of Vincent van Gogh’s interactions with his brother and his artwork.

Original: While painting it I said to myself: I must not go away before there is something of an autumn evening feeling in the painting, something mysterious, something serious. But as this effect does not stay, I must paint quickly. So the figures are painted in at once by a few strong strokes. It struck me how firmly those little stems were rooted in the ground. I began them with a brush, but because the painted ground was already so sticky, a brush stroke was lost in it – I squeezed the roots and trunks in rom the tube, and modelled them a little with the brush. (155)

Between December 1881-September 1883


While painting
something mysterious, something serious
an autumn evening feeling in the painting
I said to myself
I must not go away

lost in it
a few strong stroke
I began them with a brush.

But as this effect does not stay, I must paint quickly.


M y s t e r i o u s.
S e r i o u s.
S o m e t h i n g.
P a i n t i n g.


Dear Theo,

Untitled – Eunoia

In the following poem, I censor all words using the letter A from a passage of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. The exercise was inspired in part by the book Eunoia by Christian Bök, as well as La Disparition (translated as The Void) by Georges Perec. The following soliloquy serves to close out Act II, Scene II. I have begun mid-line, starting at the line “Am I a coward?” and going until “O vengeance!” I found that this censorship took the first two lines and made them very reflective of the character of Hamlet throughout the tragedy. Unwilling, or unprepared, to confront his circumstances, the existential crisis that he undergoes seems to parallel these introductory lines. I had originally thought of censoring the letter I, as I thought it would take some of this self-referential perspective from the play. However, in realizing that the censorship of “A” would effectively censor the entirety of the play (removing the titular Hamlet, making the tragedy without title and rendering Hamlet anonymous to an extent) I found it to be a more interesting experiment.


Who me? my?
Plucks off my blows it in my?
me by the nose? Gives me the lie i’ th’
deep to the lungs? Who does me this?

‘Swounds, I should it, for it cannot be
But I pigeon-livered
To oppression bitter, or ere this
I should the region kites
With this. Bloody, villain!
Remorseless, lecherous, kindless villain!
O vengeance!

Homolinguisitic translation – Slow Dance

Slow Dance, by Matthew Dickman, is one of my favorite poems. There are elements to it that have always struck me as particularly beautiful or painfully poignant. Even in the original, I feel that some of these lines are created for their sound, rather than any literal meaning. I originally intended to translate this into French by myself, but saw that there were options for Esperanto in online translators and found that to be a more interesting alternative.

Esperanto is language that was constructed in the late 19th century. The language was intended to be neutral, existing without a history of political or social dominance. Today, Esperanto speakers are relatively few, but hail from different countries around the world. As a language, it has been praised for its clarity and ease of learning.

In my translation, I changed the poem into Esperanto and then put it into Microsoft Word. From there, I removed any words that were highlighted by the automatic spelling and grammar checker. I then put what remained back into the translator, going from Esperanto to English. While the poem seemed to be reduced to such an extent that it made little sense, I believe that the act of translating to Esperanto helped to make the poem more succinct while preserving much of the original sentimentality. For reference, I have put the final English poem first, followed by the redacted Esperanto poem. The original poem can be found here.

Slow Dance

we have the

between the
from the we love
if one of us
of the. two
your head

you in the
your The Unchained
Stairway to Heaven, life
I have already

the non-
As in the
of the of.
Two in the I him,
out, he
he turns to me
I am on the we
I know one of us
the I slept
in the
in the

I will. I have loved you. I
the the leading
me over – sexed suddenly to life,
I am in the. I
in the
in the
for the The

Malrapida Danco

la ,
Ni la

inter la la
de la la ni amas
se el ni
el la. du
Via kapo
vi en la
al via La Unchained
Stairway to Heaven , vivo
Mi jam

La ne
Kiel en la
de La de.
Du en la de la mi li,
el, li
li sin al min
mi sur la ni

Mi scias, el ni la
La de
la de
la mi dormis
en la
la de
en la

Mi vin. Mi amis vin. Mi
la la portante
al mi super – sexed subite al vivo,
Mi en la. Mi
in la
en la
pro La La

I find that there are compelling parts to both the English and Esperanto translations. The redundancy of familiar words in the English almost causes semantic satiation – the sense of losing all meaning when a word is repeated too many times. In particular, this reminds me of the line in Dickman’s original poem of “… Two people/rocking back and forth like a buoy.” The oscillation between sense and nonsense here recalls (at least for me) the fluidity of water.

As a non-speaker of Esperanto, the words take on a lyrical quality, as if reading solfège notes (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do) aloud. Again, this play between sound and music is one that captures the essence of the slow dance. Although its literal meaning in Esperanto may not rationally convey what Dickman’s original achieves, I find that it still possesses a nuanced aural quality that replicates some of those same sentiments.

Note card poem

Ten classmates each wrote down a word and phrase on separate index cards during our first class, and we went around the classroom repeating the words in random orders as sound poetry. We collectively explored the way that sound and repetition works within a composition, both related to and divorced from its literal meaning. At the end of class, I was tasked with collecting the note cards and constructing a poem from them. I have had few experiences with collective poems: it is not specifically a collaborative effort, because others did not have input past the initial word choices, but the limitations placed on the poem by the vocabulary I had to incorporate made this an unique experience.

Although our class experience was centered on the aural experience, I wrote the poem with less abstraction in a more traditional free-form narrative. A friend wrote the word “Apopenia” for his card, a vocabulary choice that amused me greatly given the experiment. I provide the definition first in the beginning of the poem, and then split up the definition throughout the four sections as a means of linking otherwise disparate elements. Feel free to critique the poem and my methods as a comment – I find criticism and critique valuable in my own writing, and would love to hear of your impressions of this piece.

Apophenia – the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.

Apophenia Apophenia Apophenia

If I had a cup of joe for every time someone said that
I’d be drinking coffee forever.
I rejoice because the experience of the trite proverbial sentiments fuel my caffeine addiction,
although I never took a shine to coffee the way that I ought to.
It seemed like a great opportunity,
Though the bitter taste reminded me of charcoal.

Because seeing Jesus was a fisherman
(a biblical factoid that I don’t know for certain anymore)
I treat myself like a prophet. Catch one and return it.
Butter him up, tell me I’m pretty.
Carry the words like a pocketful of rocks
With patterns of holes in my trousers –
I lack the style to be eloquent, but have eloquence enough
To eat nonparaphrasable gleanings for breakfast
An atypical comestible that betrays my transcribed affectations.

Call me Persephone.
Stain my lips with pomegranate juice and mythic literary allusions.
Because love is only somewhat fatal,
Because we grew cold when the summer ends,
Because we allow our connections to lack agency
Because it’s easier that way.

I’m told that it’s always sunny in Philadelphia,
And it’s true that our heat waves are historically unpleasant.
We sponge our damp foreheads as the sun beats down
and sweat at the random mention of potato salad or barbeques.
This is what we fought for, what we erect monuments to.
“With liberty and justice for all” is up for debate
But my patriotism (or thorough ambivalence) keeps me from integrating
With either of those groups that criticize it as meaningless, or defend it so openly.
Stars and stripes and mayonnaise, data each beautiful in its own way.