Visual Poetry – Spoon River Anthology

A recent assignment asked that we take poems by other authors, so I took a poem out of Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, and added visual components to it and play with the text. For this piece, I’ve changed the size of the page from a standard 8×11, making it a 5×7 size, changed the font, and added text.

Spoon River Anthology

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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.

Micro-poetics: short form poetry

This week’s assignments were using short poems – one consisting of one word lines, one of two word lines, and one of three-word lines. I’ve written these poems over the course of the week, and the context for each is presented after the poem. I do not believe that it is necessary to know the context in which it has been created.

In using experimental writing and experimental forms, I find that my own writing tend s to err on the side of the abstract. As I continue to increase the word limit in each line, I found that I was becoming closer to conveying literal meaning with each poem. This exercise helped me to recognize the value and impact of individual words on increasing (or decreasing) clarity.

film: a sound study

Diegesis
wilhelm
anempathetic
synthesis
.)))
Affects.
levels

A friend has been preparing for a paper he is writing for his critical writing course here at Penn. His paper focuses on the role of sound and soundtrack in setting tones in film. We were working in an office space on our separate homework assignments, and he would occasionally read aloud from the source text. Several of the film scholars that were being mentioned were French, and he asked for my help in pronouncing their names. After a while, he began to only say single words at a time, which continued to reference what he had said earlier. I copied down some of the things that he said here.

micro-fiction: class critique

Wistful writing,
not beautiful,
genuine responses.
Similar vignettes.
Forgetting place:
easy endings
redundant tone
being precious
doesn’t help.

I am currently taking an advanced fiction writing class outside of my experimental writing course. In that class, we have to submit four different pieces of fiction throughout the semester to be considered for class critique. This week, I chose to experiment with a micro-fiction, and submitted a collection of ten 200 word stories. I got a lot of valuable responses from those critiques, from both my professor and classmates, and I’m looking forward to further editing the stories based on the responses I got. I summarized some of those critiques into the two word lines read above.

a season for shamrock shakes

parking garage roof
we look down
split shamrock shake
it was revolting
but I laughed.
conspicuous consumption? yes.
I don’t mind.
Relax a little –
You need rest.

Last spring, with the release of the Shamrock Shake at McDonalds, I hung out with one of my friends on the roof of the grocery store parking garage. I never want to eat another Shamrock Shake, although I wish I could spend more time with the friend.

Excuses, Excuses

If one has ever been acquainted with the time crunch before an essay is due, I imagine one or all of these are familiar excuses. This exercise was to write a poem entirely out of excuses. Although I try to be on top of my writing in general, the relative ease with which this poem came to me makes me wonder if I am not more of a slacker than I think.

Excuse Me

Of course I did it – it’s sitting on my printer right now. I emailed it to you the other day, are you sure that you didn’t get it? I might have copied down your email address wrong, so let me double check that. I started it last week, and I don’t think that this reflects the work that I put into it. But I care a lot about this course, I am just not sure that I can manage this right now. I really admire your work, I was just so busy I couldn’t read it on time. There were a few other things I was doing, but I will put this at the top of my to-do list. I don’t mean that I prioritize other stuff above this one thing though, it’s sort of a complicated process to explain. But anyway, if you want to talk about it later on we can do that. Let me know if you have any follow up questions, I am happy to explain it all.

Diachronicity – The moment between the one and the next

In this poem, all events were meant to occur in different places and at different times. I chose to present this in paragraph form, rather than a line by line, because I felt that it agglomerated these sentences into a cohesive stream of consciousness approach. While each remains temporally distinct, the continuation and flow of one line to the next related the way in which I thought of these vastly different moments. Although each memory is unique, they connect to one another in vastly different ways such that they triggered the others.

The moment between the one and the next

The door was locked and we sat in the hallway. Except for the last enclosure, he had seen everything in the zoo. I didn’t remember what my order number was, and tentatively approached the counter. A butterfly landed on his t-shirt, and I took a picture for him. When it came to my brother’s turn, he didn’t say anything. He held onto me, dancing slowly to Stairway to Heaven, closing out the night of a summer camp dance. I wanted nothing more than to do nothing. When I thought of him, sitting on a park bench, I felt contented. But when he took the drill and couldn’t find the bits, he cursed under his breath. The turkey fell out of the oven. It was Easter, but we weren’t the type for celebration. The skin on my fingers hadn’t finished healing, and the cuts were red and tender.

Alliteration

The following poem uses alliteration in each line. Unlike some of my other poems, I created this piece in a very straightforward linear method. I began with the first line (choosing the letter A as it is the first in the alphabet) and moved through the poem. I determined the first word of the corresponding lines based on the sound of the previous line.

Allusions allusive allowing alight
Determined destruction deriving device
Let’s lie lovely languid loquacious low-rate
Oration orthogonal oath oil or oats
Horizons hearsay hone home
Brutalist benign beveled believe
Architecture artifice, art, art, art.

Alphabet Poem

This poem, twenty six words and twenty six lines, uses one word for each letter of the alphabet. I came up with these words by typing in several letters semi-indiscriminately following the first. In most cases, I actively attempted to add in vowels to these letter mixtures. From these letters, I chose from spell checking options to decide which word to use. The first (“Original”) has these lines in alphabetical order, while the second (“Derivative”) scrambles these lines. Because I wanted the second to reflect as little personal interpretation as possible, I opted to use a line randomizing engine found here. I made some aesthetic changes, removing the numbered points at each line, but otherwise made no changes.

Original:

Ache
Billowing
Codons
Divisive
Everything
Fluid
Glove
Hereby
Idaho
Jawed
Kinden
Lither
Marshmallow
Nuance
Oyo
Payee
Quds
Rag
Sheer
Tweet
Ukraine
Vestige
Waugh
Xidex
Yard
Zia

Derivative:

Glove
Tweet
Sheer
Ache
Zia
Lither
Quds
Everything
Codons
Marshmallow
Yard
Billowing
Ukraine
Rag
Hereby
Vestige
Kinden
Payee
Idaho
Oyo
Jawed
Xidex
Waugh
Fluid
Divisive
Nuance

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

I.

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.

II.

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.

III.

Dear Theo,

A poem of one hundred greetings and goodbyes. – Nonsense Poetry

The following poem was to be made entirely of nonsense words or partial words. I used repetition here to remove sense from a common word (hello), such that it focuses more primarily on the aural quality of the word. The process of losing a meaning through repetition is known as semantic satiation. As our class discussion of so-called nonsense has often broached issues of aural versus strict literal interpretation, I thought it interesting to take a word that is often heard and easily understood, rather than opting for unassailable nonsense, such as what can be found in Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.

A poem of one hundred greetings and goodbyes.

hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello
hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello
hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello
hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello
hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello
hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello
hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello
hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello
hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello
hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello

I am inspired by the repetition of tradition and routine. I find that this poem is able to describe a monolithic approach towards the boredom and frustration of meaningless daily encounters. Without developing past bland conversation, one isn’t able to reach more deeply into a subject or interpersonal understanding. Similarly, when only looking at the most topical of issues relating to experimental poetry forms, one cannot gain any degree comprehensibility and is lost underneath quasi-intellectual jargon.

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.

Untitled

I?
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!