Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Metaphor and a manual typewriter

Deirdre led an interesting session this morning with the June Poets: a "poetic identity" metaphor exercise, in which each writer describes or invents a metaphorical identity--for example, "as a poet, I am the bridge: I connect but remain fixed; the world travels both over and under me . . ." (and so on) (my own poor example, not D's). Then we all wrote for about twenty minutes to expand/ embellish the metaphor (or start with a fresh one), and finally, the papers were shuffled and redistributed so we each received someone else's metaphor. We then read them aloud. The next step is for each of us to write a poem for Friday that somehow inhabits or responds to the metaphors we were given. I've done this exercise in the past; it always prompts something interesting.

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When I inherited Bob Taylor's office for a year, I also got his Royal typewriter: a hefty monster that I moved to my current office last summer. Today I lugged it downhill to the Poetry Center and set it up in the reading library, hoping the poets might have some fun by collaborating on a few poems, pecking them out line by line.

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It's great to see that Earl Pickens' new video is getting steady attention. A few weeks ago, having been given the heads up by Earl himself, Randy and I walked over to Market Street to watch the filming of the video's last segment in front of the Campus Theatre, where they changed the marquee to display Earl's name (and his new song title). Nice. And yes, he really does know how to ride that unicycle. Even if I could ride one, I'd be too terrified to do it across the George Washington Bridge (and that goes double for the New Jersey Turnpike).

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I'm really slow at reading literary journals, and look forward to the summer when I can catch up. I love this poem by Catherine Bowman, from the spring '06 issue of Ploughshares edited by (former June Poet) Kevin Young:

Names of Tulips, Good Friday

All Winter I’ve Waiteds.
The Then You Came Backs.
Wands. Wounds. Tarot Cups. Lisps.
Strapless Dresses. Sylvia Tears.
Conjugations. Anne Frank’s Looms.
Another Man Done Gone.
Kleenex After Sex. Mrs. Manner’s Accidents.
The How Funerals.
The Greedy Toos.
Freaks. The What Happens Every Afternoon.
The Purple Spot on My Neck.
The Eye Tricks. Children’s Bibles.
The Favorite Parts of His Body.
His Forty Last Words.

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