Class Notes – Attention

Here’s my second take on the “Attention” poem – a collection of all of the things that I heard over the course of an hour. My first one was much more of an introspective process, while this piece is a collection of conversations that went on external to me. I took these notes during my Experimental Writing Seminar – which would explain the title of “Class Notes”. I tried not to differentiate between the people who were talking within this, although I imagine that some people might be able to identify themselves if they were to read over it.

Class Notes

And you read it actually in a similar intonation with the last one – even intonation with a very rapid clip. It’s like the sun fleeting on the water, very fleeting, the way you hear it in your head is very specific. And yeah, I don’t think it’s particular to the subject matter. Reading in a classroom setting, I try to read quickly – no, no, I don’t know. I guess, I guess. Not articulated in an explanatory way. It’s true that you’re reading fast but you don’t have too much time. It’s particular to reading poetry in a classroom setting, like I’m ambient noise. A transient flicker, deemphasizing what you’re doing to highlight – yeah, the specificity. Yeah. Creating something that is a highly jammed poem, I lost my train of thought. Coming in trains. Repetition and patterns come about you never would have come up with on your own – I like that I don’t think so. And that first line, that was one of the first things we were trying to get people to understand and maybe not intentional but reiterated, and which musical was this? At the actual musical, a lot of the more serious bits were laughed at by the audience. Really, yeah. It was funny to people and in these dark events there was this comic relief that they were searching for somewhere. People saying you have to die in another way, throwing shade insults. Telling you how you may have died, that it might have been what you wanted. See, I’m missing the point. I only get interested in these expressions when they’re no longer used ten or twelve years later, and it changes your reaction to it. Definitely really fascinated by the way that you interpret, different contextual does it relate to something you think could be in the poem? It’s a possibility and I didn’t see it that way but now I do. Context in context and it starts to take on its own meaning. Move it into something else and the metaphoric aspects of what’s being said because the original colloquial sense just disappears and it takes on this other life. It can also be understood as distance – when you are writing something it is always something else, disconnected and reconnecting to what’s being written instead of what it’s source is. Do you want to show another one? Poetry investigations are right up there with national security investigations. It’s not for the squeamish, if you want to be squeamish you should take up prose. There’s reasons why you have resistance and you might find that there are reasons for why in your own writing hidden or not or open or not in this environment but there’s another level in writing where these kind of stuff can’t be important. It doesn’t matter. The only thing I’m ever concerned about is writing, and the normal considerations of normal people – I wouldn’t hesitate to pursue other people’s thinking and be irreverent if it was something I wanted to create. I’m only interested in the aesthetic experience I am creating in writing a piece. No animals were harmed in creating this poem. Comfort levels in general produce blandness and most people want to read such things and exchange well thought out well appreciated thoughts but to me that’s not interesting. I think that’s the problem with popular lit – for me, I feel that if I write something, how well is it going to fit into the fabric of what we already have. And for me, I like pop culture. And movies and pop songs, they’re fantastic and it’s very difficult to do but this other stuff I’m talking about is hard to do but has an equal value. Do you like listening to your own voice? I’ve broken down this resistance, it doesn’t affect me one way or another. If I listen to a recording of me. There’s a lot of things I don’t like. And back in high school when I did debate training, we had to listen to recordings so we could perfect ourselves until he realized that people were quitting because of it. I could have stayed in Oklahoma, but I’m also not a vegetarian and that’s the price you have to pay. And so as I was saying, my coach used to make us listen. Three or four screens, seeing yourself in all directions. And like I was saying, we didn’t like to listen. So don’t you like seeing photographs? But studies have shown that people like how they look in mirrors more than pictures because of the way that light hits the face. I have to say, I refused to dissect the frog – I thought it would have been nice, and it’s probably against what I’m saying. It was probably a mistake, and it would have been better, but now I see that maybe I would have learned something about anatomy. I had to leave the room when we did it in high school, I was squeamish. It wasn’t that I was squeamish but I had to overcome it. I just didn’t think it was necessary to do. I dissected the cat, and I took the whole brain out in one go and I got extra credit. I did that too, and when we were done I cut off the head and held it up and my teacher thought I was disturbed. In terms of writing, you have to go beyond! As far as writing goes and in the context of this class perception and resistance to photography and self photography because it’s not true that you’re not photogenic and I’m sure that you think it but I can tell you it’s not true. Thank you. It has to do with how the photograph is taken but there’s nothing you can do to make yourself more susceptible to have a photograph taken. The reisistence just makes it more interesting in a sense and part of it is some sense you have of integrity and you’re seeing things inside and looking out and that’s why I mentioned dissection as if you were breaking your connection to the world as if you were doing that and it can be brutal but worthwhile and it’s just hard in terms of writing or in acting for that matter. You have to, what is it, channel your oppression. It’s often geared to breaking down a sense of self-consciousness and writing has to do a lot with acting and making do with whatever material you can, that’s what’s important. Whatever you can extract that is worthwhile if you are interested in writing. So, do you want to present any of these things? And I can talk about them. And actually that observation is worth the price of admission itself, the idea that thinking things and overhearing things is not an obvious relationship. Fifteen and calamities and quintessence and stories and then there are and there are Mobius strips and then there were and then the Dreaming and immortal coils. With the line breaks intended and I really have an idea in my mind like line breaks. And Milton could do that, and the issue of dictation is different than transcribing informal speech. I think that it’s possible to transcribe your own speech and you become more conscious of your own speech like scavenging that’s an interesting thing to do, like with a Geiger counter what are those things called, metal detectors, and what is the difference between dictation and what if you had written it down. See what you can do within the space of the spoken, what can’t be captured in writing and what could conform to the stanzaic and go into the other direction and see what you can do in the spoken and the talked and the performed that you can’t do in the other. Because volume is one example and you can’t convey pitch, rhythm, volume, and accent, you say you don’t like the sound of your voice but it’s a little like the look of your face. Hearing them read is part of the experience and to me that’s not any different to say if I like to read my work or like to perform it or that it exists. It’s all part of a connected system and it connects a different relationship to the work and you had just more and greater intentionality if not more intentionality when you are aware of what you’re saying. And I talk quite a lot and I’m very aware of how I sound and I talk quite a lot and it’s part of what I do and not to be aware of that would be not to be aware of what I’m doing. And to stay in Oklahoma and commune with non-human beings, the cattle, the plants, the dust, the surrounding. The cattle, the plants the dust, the pause – the big sky. When you enter a world when speaking is a social necessity, it seems necessary. It’s all self presentation in a way and if you want to disappear it seems most admirable to disappear if not practical. What is the difference, can you say anything interesting that comes out of it for you? It wasn’t a conscious choice and I said whatever came to mind and I just decided that I wanted to be filled with intuitive choices and not necessarily rational. And I liked the caucophony, and it’s very speech derived and I wouldn’t know, because if I approached this as a spontaneous writing and here you were very concerned with measure and I am as well. I am very aware of the pauses but it’s not just continuous prose either and you become more aware of the median and you can mold it and it’s the transformation between the spoken and the written. And the fact that these are all so carefully and clearly articulated -I don’t know where I was goig with that. More like short pieces and real speech is much more fragmented and much less driven by something that is driven. Girls are like McNuggets. Everything has quinoa in it these days, and she’s the queen of Trader Joes, so it’s healthy. I guess I said mist, instead of missed, but the point still stands. It’s kind of a whimsical aspect, and more of a narrative story. And when you transcribe something that you speak and then reread it it’s not like he ever rereads from a script because she’s really repreforming something that was perhaps spoken in composition and it takes on a different well different aspect when you read. I’ll make note of those that we missed and on this collaboration, someone who has not done something with one of these collaborations already. And you’ll set up a website and send it out and send it to them personally and then we can let her know and it can be added up-front. I just feel so much more constrained when it’s on the page because it’s on the page and the page is finite.


Haiku: Quotation

I laughed my ass off
Fuck! Stop throwing food around.
I can’t handle it
– Emmett Wynn

American thing:
Eating goldfish everyday.
Hesketh says “Hello”.
– Christina Hesketh

“I am not alone.
I am not alone at all.”
He nods, not speaking.
– Andrew Bortvin

“Shut up, gypsy queen!”
I am talking to you now.
He has lovely eyes.
– Raghav Joshi

“A friend is staying,
and he will sleep on the couch.
Is that fine with you?”
– Saanya Ojha

“What are you doing
this summer?” she asks of me
over facebook chat.
– Jordan Baker

“Let’s do dinner soon,”
I ask my older brother.
He does not respond.
– Kristen Kelly

“Pasta fiesta!”
Martin declares. “This is great!
Chop chop chop chop chop.”
– Martin Falk

“Does anyone want
something to drink?” He comes back
with sparkling cider.
– Yingan Xu

Here are a couple of haiku that I have written from things that friends have said over the past few days. It was interesting to be analyzing the things that my friends were saying for the number of syllables their sentences had, rather than actively participating in conversation and contributing meaningfully. I think that in its own way, this practice is antithetical to the process of haiku, which are to me meditative and introspective. By repurposing this form to write something very surface level, I appropriate the meanings conveyed through traditional form to lend a tone of seriousness to otherwise unremarkable conversation.

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,