Monday, March 17, 2008

123 Acrostic Poetry meme

H-Acrostic 123 Poetry Meme

This is for Andree, it's a variation on the page 123 meme for
poets--anyone can do it but it does take some time. I did this today,
this morning, but I recommend taking more time with it for best

1)choose a book (mine is Marge Piercy's Three Women (Excellent book!)
2)go to P 123, Look for the first interesting word or phrase:
"Increasingly Silent All Day" (you can go on to the next page if
necessary)(Short words are quicker!)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26

For each letter of your word or phrase, add that letters number of
pages and count down that letter's number of lines and write down the
first interesting phrase BEGINNING with the LETTER. Continuing adding
pages, and if you get to end, continue from the beginning. Or just
open any page randomly. Do NOT use a poetry book.

I=123+9= 132 p132, 9 lines down: insane desire to flee, to run off
into the misty morning and vanish
N=132+14=146, p 146, 14 lines down: nothing else, she waited until
Monday afternoon when everyone else was out of the house.
C=146+3=149, p149, 3 lines down: could no longer handle ordinary (clothes)
R=149+19=168, p168, 19 lines down: religiously, full of tales and dreams
E=168+5=173, p173, 5 lines down: Expect the brightest spot in her life
A: All he needed he could fit in a backpack
S: Sensible and cool. She liked to keep him on edge
I: I'm good for you, I only have to charm everyone, it was the
excitement she craved
N: Nothing's going on, not something she should spring on him, not fat
G: gently by the elbows as if she might fly apart. Grinning

S: Stood staring, seeing through her lashes. Scared. Bleak
I: I was innocent. I was depressed
L: Love had been a roaring inside her
E: Enjoy other people's pretend lives
C: Coward. Failure. Tried to kill herself.
E: Eyelids fluttered several times. Opened a slit. Moaned.

(Yours of course will look different.)

Now comes the hard poetry part. Now that you have a start, you can
change anything you want, look up new phrases. You can keep the
acrostic form, but if you do, try to make it not be obvious. Or get
rid of it. Revise and Edit till you have a poem. Feeel free to take
a week or two at least with this meme. Try to keep at least some part
of the original words or phrases.

Increasing Silence

I want to flee, to run off insane into the misty morning and vanish as if
nothing else mattered, as if everyone was gone from my life, as if I
could no longer handle ordinary relationships, as if love didn't
exist. I am not
religious, but spiritual maybe and full of tales, dreams and fantasies, always
expecting love to be the brightest spot in my life, and full of
laughter. If only
all I needed could fit in a backpack. If I could just be
sensible and calm. But life keeps me on edge. Remember love? Why can
I no longer charm you? Once I craved excitement, adventure.
Now, nothing happens. At bedtime, only sleep. Not even sleep. Hold me
gently by the elbows—I might fly apart. Stop frowning. I'm

scared. And bleak. I stand staring, seeing your lips through wet lashes.
I'm not innocent. I'm depressed, angry, hurt. Lonely.
Love roars inside me. Of course I still love you. But I don't
enjoy pretend lives, and silence! Distances. Touch me. Am I a
coward? A failure? I want the opposite of suicide. Give me life! Kiss my
eyelids! Butterfly kisses, moans of delight. Shhh, just hold me.

And here's another:


Crazy you mutter the blues festival city's a mess ugh such a mob you look
over the boisterous crowd from a frowning face frown more deeply your
main gripe's the noise the surging swarm of humanity your
principle goal's to keep from slipping into the unruly streets
listen blues and laughter shrieks of joy but you shrink back
anticipate jostling pickpockets thieves and hustlers
insist always on security on your own way you would
never admit you'd prefer to hide inside turn on the TV watch the whole
thing canned later say yes you saw the sweat on the bass player's lip come on
stop grumbling lean closer enjoy with me this dancing pageant of people.

(Both poems by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt. the first one is brand new.)
the H in H-Acrostic is from HARVESTED--meaning you start with harvested phrases.

The robin is from Thursday--they've been here about two weeks now.

I tag Andree, Michael, Pam, Leaf Lady and anyone esle who would like
to play along.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Magic in Poetry (The great American P...

If you have time and are willing, please read what I have written below (it's short) and then please send me the names of the two (or more) poems (or the actual poems, if you have them handy) you consider to be most "magical" and your own personal most magical poem (if you are willing to allow me to possibly write about it.) Furthermore, if (and only if) you have time, tell me any thought you have about the poems you sent (your own and others) or the topic in general. I know you are busy, so if you don't have time, just delete this message. (Did you know I married and moved to Detroit?)(This is not for a course, but simply for my own cogitation and edification at the moment.) Also any comments on what I've written would be nice but absolutely not necessary. Hope you are well and enjoying life. Mary Stebbins Taitt

Magic in Poetry (The Great American Poem?)

by Mary Stebbins Taitt

Dawn McDuffie, former classmate and current poetry teacher at the Scarab Club in Detroit, Michigan, assigned us to write "that poem we've always wanted to write" (The great American poem, perhaps?), "a magical poem that does all those things we've been learning to do," show senses and emotion, have metaphor and avoids cliche, thesis statements, weak verbs, state-of-being verbs, too many adjective and adverbs, verbosity, etc. The poem that does something new and exciting.

Of course I wrote not the magical great American poem, but the next poem I needed to write. It didn't flow out of the head of the muse like spontaneous music or leap full blown from the head of Zeus; it was a struggle, even more so than normal. It started out more as prose than poetry, which while becoming more common lately, has not always been my modis operendi. I went through and did all those things I always do, revising and editing, deleting unnecessary words, ferreting out cliches (or attempting to), looking for stronger verbs and nouns, and slowly, painfully, it moved from prose toward poetry. I looked at the line breaks and the lines and the sentences. I looked for alliteration, wanting some but not too much. I looked for inadvertent rhyme, to do away with it or make it intentional. I kept thinking of all those things I'd been taught: no surprise for the poet, no surprise for the reader. The turn is the center of the poem. No turn, no poem. And I wondered, can this poem ever become magical, or should I start over from scratch?

How could I know if I needed to start over without knowing what I was looking for? It's all very well to say that I know a magical poems when I see one. But if I don't know what defines it, how can I create it? I guess, theoretically, one could create without being able to articulate. Zen and the art of poetry writing, perhaps. Get into "the zone" and go. Then, being the sort of curious and ambivalent person I am, I wondered if attempting to define, articulate and understand is antithetical to the poetic process. Perhaps it is, but since we are of two minds, I suggest we can do both, though not necessarily at once, and that examining and defining can help in the creative process, because that material, knowledge and comprehension becomes available to those separate minds within us that create.

I thought about a paper I wrote for Natasha Saje in my second semester at Vermont college. I'd been talking about joy in poetry and Natasha suggested that I try to articulate what I meant. I did. She was disappointed. "You just say why you like the poems," she complained. She was right, an a way. My problem was a lack of time in the context of working and attending college full time. I had a list of books I was required to read and write about and insufficient time to explore other work, so I wrote about what was joyful in the poems I was reading. I found no shortage of joy in the assigned work.

Now, I'd like to do it again, with magic, but my available time to cogitate is still very limited and the subject is just as slippery. However, I have no deadline, so I could theoretically work on it a little at a time until I complete it. But I have ADHD and sticking single-mindedly to a project over a long period of time in the midst of multiple ongoing projects and life is very hard for me. I might fail to do so.

But I will surely fail if I do not begin.

What is a magical poem? Is it the same as a joyful poem? A delightful poem? Are there black and white magicks? Can a dark poem be "magical?" What did Dawn mean, what was she suggesting, when she told us to write a magical poem? How did she hope we would understand that?

Dictionary definitions don't do justice to the sense of magic I believe Dawn intended. So I will create my own list of synonyms for this specific use: enchanting, extraordinary, miraculous, spellbinding, marvelous or monstrous, numinous, luminous, wondrous, superhuman, transcending, magnetic, entrancing, astonishing, remarkable, awe-inspiring. I propose that a magical poem is a poem that works, that succeeds at the highest level. All the poetic devices work with the imagination of first the poet and then the reader to evoke a sense of wonder, strong emotion (e.g.: joy & delight or horror) and surprise. The magical poem contains an "aha" and a sense of uncanny rightness. The cliched poem is exactly what the reader expects. The magical poem is unexpected but just as right and far more satisfying. The magical poems simultaneously sings to the senses and whispers to the dream self. It engages the whole reader, body mind and soul.

If a magical poem is simply a highly successful poem, is there anything else to say about it? Thousands of successful poems exist in every language. Much has already been written about them. Have I anything to add? To tell you the truth, I am not certain, but I intend to consider it. But not at this moment, so I will continue later. More to follow.