Saturday, February 27, 2016

Year of Poetry Update - End of Month Two

I note that this month began with a hospitalization and ended with a publication.  Hopefully the former isn't a requirement of the later.

In terms of the experience so far, while at times I have been extremely tired (this is partially to do with illness) I do think I have developed a strong habit and I find myself getting a little anxious when I haven't sat down and written for more than a day.

I also note that I seem to be indicating to myself in my daily reflections that I might be pushing myself  hard (I don't seem to take notice of myself unfortunately).  So in an effort to listen to what I am saying I decided not to do any poetry writing today and just type up this monthly reflection(still about 2 hours of work).

Looking back over this month I finished both A Poet's Guide to Poetry and Making Your Own Days  in terms of their usefulness for technical study - they both still have a wealth of notes and exercises which I will utilize in the poetry writing segment.  That being said I made several notes in my daily reflections to return to certain concepts that I felt I was only gaining a shallow understanding of.

There were two light bulb moments:

  • My discovery and use of syllabic.  Now I had of course come across syllabic poetry before and read it, but working with a syllable restriction and studying good poets who use it was extremely beneficial.  Indeed a couple of poems/poetic ideas seemed to unlock themselves when I had the syllables as a scaffold.
  • The realization that I first and foremost fall for poems where the music (sound, rhythm, rhyme,melody) is one of the elements that the poet is pushing to the forefront.  Hence I am a sucker for most poets who do this and who I hear read their poems.  That's not to say I don't appreciate or even attempt myself to focus on the other elements merely I think that poetry that does focus on music seems familiar to those who aren't educated in poetry.
As I mentioned in the intro above I managed one publication this month, you can read it at Bluepepper : Black Snake Driving.  I also have two other poems out on submission.

For those with an interest in stats here's this weeks along with the running total

Total time: 12:43 (140:45) hrs

poem writing = 6:08 (53:38) hrs
close reading = 2:45 (33:35) hrs
technique/theory 2:50 (30:53) hrs
reflection = 1:10(11:59) hrs

Poetry written:

11 poems completed
1 poem abandoned
1 drafted

Poems Submitted:

3 poems

Poems Published:

1 poem

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Publishing and Illusions of Permanence

Arltunga - a mining ghost town
I have been following Patrick Gillespie for about 6 years or so now at his blog Poemshape. This year he has been creating a Haiku a day, but I originally subscribed to him due to his criticism and writings on Frost and Western poetics in general.

I made comment on one of his posts about the difficulty in tracking down the published works of some Haijin (particularly Anita Virgil) which prompted the following response: 

Last night’s comment—that the poetry of many haijin can be hard to track down—reminded me why I stopped pursuing publication. Poetry seems to disappear once its published. I would rather poetry be found and freely read.
When I was ten years old my friends next door made a fort under a stairway and decided not to let me in. I picked up a hammer and nails for the first time. I built my own fort. It wasn’t beautiful but it stood for many years. Later, when I was writing poetry, I used to submit poems to any number of publishers. They all rejected me. I suppose, in starting my blog, I built my own fort. [Read On].

Now Scott's work is as good as any I have seen published so the sentiment I see expressed here is not some disgruntled creative balking at the first hurdle, there's a creative choice being made here.

But the discussion did get me thinking about publication from both ends i.e. as a creator and as a consumer appreciator of poetry.

On appreciation

As I stated in the comments I tend to have issues reading from a computer screen. I am not sure if its to do with screen proportions or something else but I generally have much greater success/enjoyment when reading works on an ereader or in paper form. (tangentially: apparently there's been some research on reading in hard copy being up taken/encoded more easily, something to do with haptic feedback)

But I think the major reason why I don't tend to enjoy poetry on screen is that I don't place an emphasis on its need to be read of this moment.

I find that having it on a website means that I have a tendency to say to myself “this work will always be here I will direct my attention to other works that might disappear”. This may be just perception but I have a feeling that there’s an illusion of permanence offered by the internet.

Similarly it took me years to purchase a collection of Robert Frost’s because I assumed that he would always be in print. The end result, I only ever read or went back to the works I was exposed to in High School.

Now I enjoy collected works of , shall we say, working poets (those with one or two collections out) because these collections are often more than just a rolling collection of poems, there seems to me to be value in the container of the collection ie the sum is greater than is parts.

If a poet's work engages me enough, I wan't to buy it and have a copy to hold in my hand (this is why borrowing from the library is killing my bank account).  Is this just being part of a possessive capitalist culture, the desire to own something rare?

I am not sure, but I don't think so, not entirely.  As I am finding out in my year of poetry there is a wealth of good poetry published just in Australia every year, then beyond that in the UK, the USA, an that's before you get to quality, free poems on the internet.

I think publication helps me condense this abundance into something digestible, otherwise it's like I am at an all you can eat buffet.  I am not sure a permanence on the web results in work being read (it does for Patrick) or read in great depth.

On Creating

I entertain hopes of publishing a poetry collection (maybe even more than one) but I realize this poetry "journey" is one where I am forever learning the language of poetry, its tools and refining craft, often with nothing but books to guide me.  This is a goal just beyond the horizon and may remain so for quite some time after I have the enough quality work to fill one.

I have free poems on this blog, links to poetry that I have been paid for which you can read for free.  I am helping collate the Post-It Note Poetry event where we post the good the bad and the ugly of what we can think up in a day.  And yet this still doesn't feel permanent to me.

I have a contributors copy the first anthology I was printed in and that feels more permanent to me. Perhaps my feelings are biased because I have had access, to poetry, to the ability to type and publish it on the net, to read it in electronic form, taken away (technical issues and living remotely).

I write all my poetry now long hand first and my poetry collections never need recharging.

But getting back to the title.  Does publishing in either format (online/in print) confer permanence and the chance of being read?  And does this in the grand scheme of things mean anything?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Year of Poetry Update Week 7

This week the battle was technical, had issues with the computer but still managed to do just over 18 hours of work.  I was largely able to hit this target due to the lack of paid work around at the start of semester.

I expect (hope) to get at least a couple of days next week impinging on my schedule but I don't see this as a big threat.

No finished poems this week but one that I will be typing up hopefully tonight or tomorrow to do a final polish before running it past the brains trust and another where I am reading a bit of Glyn Maxwell to see if I can get a handle on his approach to iambic pentameter. 

This weeks close readings were: Glyn Maxwell, Old Smile at the Roast. Paula Meehan's Single Room with a Bath, Edinburgh, Robert Gray's The Northern Town, John Burnside's Insomnia in Southern Illinois 

But on to the stats:

Total time: 18:20 (128:02) hrs

poem writing = 7:40 (47:30) hrs
close reading = 5:10 (30:50) hrs
technique/theory  4:05 (28:03) hrs
reflection = 1:25(10:49) hrs

Poetry written:

9 poems completed
1 poem abandoned
2 drafted

Poems Submitted:

2 poems

General thoughts:

Happy with my progress and happy to have a couple of poems out there in the field.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Agnes Török and her poem Worthless

I am currently hard at work in the word mines. But here's some of Agnes Török's performance poetry. Enjoy.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Falling in love with the music

I crossed the "100 hours of poetry" threshold yesterday morning and thought back briefly over what I had learned or how far I had come in just 6 weeks.  I can make a couple of observations:

  1. Poems and poets that were hard to connect with seem to open up to me more.  I am sure this is a result of both closer, more attentive reading and an understanding of the larger historical/technical context in which they sit.
  2. Looking back at the poems I loved before undertaking this plan, it was their music that I first fell in love with.  By music I mean not only rhyme, but rhythm, pacing, the melody of grouped sounds.
I also began reading Kenneth Koch's Making Your Own Days.  His first chapter is titled The Two Languages and I think he has some insightful points to make about the ability of sound within a poem to make poetic sense and meaning in and of itself.  He uses the example:

Two and Two
are rather blue  

which logically makes no sense, but is more memorable, gains a meaning that doesn't exist in

Two and Two 
are rather green

This is a very simple example and it focuses just on rhyme.  But I did think how in some cases memorable music is enough to carry a poem for me.  The poet's meaning/intent/themes (which I may struggle to decipher for years) is of less importance. 

Your thoughts?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Year of Poetry Update Week 6

This week saw no work and two severe headaches that almost reached migraine status.  

So the work hours have been down, more so than last week. I do however feel as though I have been productive this week, so while the hours are down I think I smashed a poem out of the park today.

I had one of those rare experiences where my feelings about how good the poem is didn't fluctuate from day to day. 

For those interested in my process I do the following:

  • Write a preliminary( I am stealing this label from Kinzie's book, apparently this is what Yeats called them) or prose draft.  I find this allows me to get down the rough shape/them/ideas for the poem
  • Draft the preliminary until I feel a poem begin to emerge
  • Begin drafting the poem, if the poem doesn't seem to be working ( by which I mean that I spend a good day getting nowhere) look at why.
  • Write the poem to death until I think it's ready
  • Run it by my brains trust
  • Carefully consider each of the points on Jo Bell's checklist ( I find if I really stick to the list then something usually turns up that makes the poem better)
  • Let it sit for awhile
  • Review
  • Submit

Today though, after posting this I will be submitting my latest poem due to time pressures.  I am happy with it and if it doesn't make it through the process I am not too worried.  I let you know how I go.

But on to the stats:

Total time: 12:40 (99:42) hrs

poem writing =  5:10 (39:50) hrs
close reading =  2:50 (25:40) hrs
technique/theory =  3:40 (23:58) hrs
reflection = 1:00 (9:24) hrs

Poetry written:

9 poems completed
1 poem abandoned

General thoughts:


Well I thought disruption by work was going to be the problem, but its been health that's been the real issue, and on reflection with hospitalization last week and the severe headaches this week and still managing to write successfully I don't have any major concerns on the horizon.  I think I have established the habit.

Update - Poetry and Place Anthology

Ashley Capes has announced that the Poetry & Place Anthology is moving ahead (typesetting at the moment) and has published a list of poets who are making up the Table of Contents.  Some fine poets make up the list - take a look here:

James Croteau
Alan Summers
Marisa Fazio
Judit Hollos
Annie Lampman
Barbara A Meier
Ivy Alvarez
Lorin Ford
Brenda Saunders
Caitlin Thomson
Duncan Richardson
Elliot Nicely
Sandra Simpson
Mark Miller
Fiona McIIroy
C Gerrish
Guy Traiber
Frank Russo
Irene Wilkie
Jacqueline Buswell
Colleen Z Burke
Sarah Rice
Jeff Schiff
jenni nixon
Jenny Blackford
Jill Jones
John Stokes
Marilynne Thomas Walton
Julie Storer
Karen Andrews
Vanessa Proctor
Kevin Gillam
Les Wicks
Mran-Maree Laing
Nikki Carr
Jan Napier
Rasma Haidri
Joyce Joslin Lorenson
S.E. Street
S. G. Larner
SuzAnne C. Cole
Tina Schumann
J. Todd Hawkins
Traudl Tan
Valentina Cano
Mark William Jackson
Faith de Savigne
Stu Hatton
Chris Lynch
Jill McKeowen
Stuart Barnes
Billy Antonio
Jane Downing
Nathanael O’Reilly
Ben Walter
Frances Olive
Benjamin Dodds
Diana Jamieson
Andrew Phillips
SB Wright 
Ron C. Moss
Simon Hanson
A. S. Patric
Michele Seminara
Jonathan Hadwen
Joyce Parkes
Anne Elvey
Brad Frederiksen
Amelia Walker
Koraly Dimitriadis
Jerome Gagnon
Emma Smith
Margaret Bradstock
Christine Burrows
Karen Lowry
Monica Carroll
Janis Holm
Frances Donovan
Margaret Owen Ruckert
Wes Lee
Nina Longfield
John Upton
Veronica Lake
Gabrielle Rowe
Robyn Sykes
Alison Miller
Katarina Boudreaux
Alice Allan
Nicola Scholes
Penny Gibson
Jane Williams

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Post it Note Poetry Update

Barely managing to create short poems by the end of the day, each day so I have reworked some Haiku

Although this one wasn't:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Year of Poetry Update Week 5

Pewter dip pen - a gift
from a good friend
I nearly didn't make it to the end of week 5.  Followers on Facebook will now that I was driven to hospital earlier in the week - delirium, vomiting dehydration and migraine.

Maybe I should call the blog Hard Poetry, where we poet HARD (referencing The Weekly with Tom Gleeson).

Surprisingly, despite the day lost to illness.  I did manage to rack up 14 hours of work.

This week was, perhaps understandably, the slowest in terms of poems crafted.  Indeed I thought I was going to have an abandoned poem, but I persisted, backed off, read Vagabondage by Beth Spencer and the words flowed again.  

I had one of those shower epiphanies that requires you to rush, still dripping down the hallway and scribble a page of poetry while the water soaks the carpet.

If the poetry was slow, the study got interesting and more hands on with a focus on the rules and history of rhyme. 

My close reading this week featured Eileen Chung's Ritual (a pantoum) and Beth Spencer's Leaving this House (free verse).  

On to the stats, here are this week's with the overall project total in parenthesis:

Total time: 14:10 (86:52) hrs

poem writing = 6:30 (34:30) hrs
close reading = 3:00 (22:50) hrs
technique/theory =  2:40 (20:18) hrs
reflection = 1:10(8:24) hrs

Poetry written:

7 poems completed
1 poem abandoned
1 poem at 2nd draft stage

General thoughts:


Nothing new here in terms of threats on the horizon.  I do think that the program helps with self defeating talk though.  It gives you a sense of achievement even when the different portions of it aren't all working well.


From last week - I'd like to get one poem in particular out of this lot published and I will work on it in the coming week.I had no time this week and so thought it best to nut out the drafts before I move on to more polished work.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Post It Note Poetry 2016 - It begins

So February 1st saw the official beginning of Post-It Note Poetry for 2016.

So excited was I that I promptly got a migraine that required hospitalization.  So it's been slow off the mark and I have been struggling to write haiku for this project let alone other long form poetry associated with the Year of Poetry Plan.

Still, here are my attempts so far.

What is Post-It Note Poetry?

Go here and find out.
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