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.

 

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.

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.

ICA Inspired Poem – You are a quinceanera

This is a poem inspired by a visit to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. I was moved by the atmosphere of the museum and compelled to write the following. We were to pick pieces from the current exhibition, and will be performing some of these poems beside the individual artworks. This poem was inspired by several portions of the ICA – the current Ruffneck Constructivists and ICA@50 exhibitions in particular.

You are a quinceanera

You are a quinceanera,
You dance between the lines and waves, scratch into your contours the feelings of movement,
A ballpoint boat on a ballpoint lake singing “help is on the way”.
So I can slip out of the dress that is made with a hundred million sequined beads
leave it to puddle in the middle of the floor. It holds onto the shape of my body
and I drown in it. But with scribbled secret notebooks, you come to my rescue
sketch a rope and throw it to me. I’ll feel the nib of your fountain pen clumsily make its way
after all this time. An archaic type of searching and retrieving.
I want to drag you out. I want to dance with you slowly to a fast paced song.
You are a quinceanera, you are a festival, you are out of control.
Party games have taken a turn for the stranger, and the strangers in the room mimic familiarity.
Besides all of this, dabbling in the occult always made me feel reckless.
But when my Ouija board is made of hands, and everyone and everything is pointing fingers in the wrong directions,
I can’t for the life of me understand what the purpose is, or why I’m missing it.
But there are open freeways and invitations for driving
And behind the wheel of a car, the journey always struck me as beautiful
Except for the time that I was driving to the dentist
and a woman rushed through a red light when I had the right of way
and the cars careening collided colluded
(with far less broken glass than I could have ever imagined)
and I called my father and told him everything.

Stream of consciousness writings

These three poems were written over the past week.  The experiment was to write down everything that comes through your head while you are thinking about writing this poem, and then to copy it as exactly as possible without self-censoring or editing later on. Taking the three pieces together, it’s an interesting way for me to look at the past week. These poems capture moments where I was sitting at Philo, when I was taking notes in a Sociological Research Methods course, and when I went home for dinner over the weekend.

Typically, in my writing, I like to edit and rework pieces several times so that I can feel like I have used the most exact and precise language. Outside of this experimental writing course, I am also in an advanced fiction writing seminar. That course is one that highly values the very conscious efforts made to edit and pare down drafts to get the best work possible, so having an exercise that thinks that the first draft is the best draft is a very different approach to writing.

1.
Write a poem where you don’t edit anything out
Where everything that is there is there to stay
And we transcribe our thoughts of the process because the process is interesting and the keys are moving and the sound in the ceiling keeps a metronome that we structure our lives around and we can’t find where it’s coming from or going to but we want it to stop –
Augustus is in the chair next to me, his yellow laced sneakers on the table and the black pants that he likes so much on his tall legs as he laughs about something that I can’t hear
Jack Kerouac says not to use periods but that’s a stylistic choice I don’t agree with. Whenever I write in chats and text messages, I make sure to use them bountifully. There’s a remarkable sense of finality to the messages when they come in short bursts like telegraphs or telegrams or telekinesis through the static hum.
The truth is, I’ve never read much by Kerouac. Back when I used to commonplace (taking down the small finite details of words and reading, scribbling into a marble covered notebook my favorite quotations, as if rote memorization of these shards of literature would be enough to pepper my speech with eloquence. [and, truth be told, it worked. At least, to some small degree.]) I included a line or two that talked about scribbled secret notebooks, for your own joy, and I liked that. Because these are secret scribbles, the kind that you trace across someone’s shoulder blades at nighttime like they’re fragile (they, being the words, but maybe also the person) or that you store in a jewelry box when you are a child, only to find and release years and years later.
I used to store my memories that way in boxes. I never wanted anything to expire, so I’d put them piece by piece into boxes with layers of tissue paper to keep them delicate and would exhume them regularly enough to feel and touch and want
And I got your email
So we’ll talk about it eventually if I layer it carefully enough and put it into the right earmarked folder
But no promises because my digital persona is just as hectic as my flesh and bone body and maybe even a little bit more reckless. But come to think of it, much less reckless, because I can still feel the ways that my fingers move and I can never figure exactly how or why that happens.

2.
In the absence of this storm, the storm is not the only thing that would be multiple causes of branches
The storm was not a necessary cause – things fall apart for a bunch of different reasons.
It was neither a sufficient or necessary cause, but a cause nevertheless, and we call it a precipitating cause (precipitation cause, cause cause cause)
The social world is much more complicated. Happiness has many factors and causes and when we figure out everything that contributes we will learn the deterministic relationships and bottle them up and sell them. In the absence of X you will not have Y, our tagline as a product, marketed as “Deterministic Happiness”, recommended by sociologists.
I wonder if having more happiness would cure my tonsils – they are walnuts at the back of my throat, I wonder how they are doing, I think about tea and granola bars and the Nyquil that I have been drinking from a plastic measuring cup, drink it like a shot of espresso and wait for it to hit me with the opposite clarity of caffeine.
Happier people are more attractive people, time ordering should be a criterion of a causal relationship.

There’s always ambiguity.

3.
My cousin’s car was stuck in the driveway and so my brother and I ran to the train station together so that we wouldn’t miss the regional rail – he had class in the morning, I had no pressing desire to get back to my dorm but kept pace a few steps behind him all the same as if I had the same urgency.
When we were standing on the platform – he was under the overhang, but I was worried that the trains wouldn’t see us, so I stood out where the snow was falling into my hair and speckling my black peacoat with damp.
James says, I forgot what it is like to be quiet.
And I think, with all of the snow and all of the softness, I forgot about some of it too. And we stand and appreciate the sound of very little happening at all, until the electric grind of the train can be heard but not seen, until it can be seen and heard, and seen and heard and felt as it throws snow onto us when it stops, and then the moment is over.