I do not like poetry, redux.

I know I keep saying I do not like poetry. And I know that is probably a little bit of a lie, because I have poems I really like. As I was growing up one of my most special friends in the whole wide world used to write me a poem on each birthday. (I still have all of them, if you are reading this and wondering Will.) My friend Jason wrote beautiful poems. My friend John writes amazing songs  – and those are poems. So, it is not that I hate poetry per say. Maybe I find it intimidating. I am not sure. I certainly am inundated with it these days.

When I was in the Secondary Education program at SFSU way back in 1994, I had an amazing curriculum teacher, without whom I would be a shadow of the teacher I am today. Her enthusiasm and creativity were awesome. One of the things that she had us do [yeah, yeah… I know all you guys say those who cannot “Do”, “Teach” – and I have a lot to say to you… ] was Found Poetry. I am aware that she was not the inventor of this concept, but her technique was the best I’ve yet seen:
1) Select words and phrases that stand out to you from a text…
2) String them together in a way that is pleasing to you… maintaining the order in which they appear in the text, try not to add words, but it is okay to subtract.
3) Develop a poem that reflects your interpretation of the meaning of the text by creating stanzas and lines that work for you.

One of my students came in the other day with about 50 pages of academic text on the Industrial Revolution from which she was supposed to create a found poem. I thought that was sort of ambitious of the teacher…. but hey, still a cool concept. My student did not concur. In the end, her poem was pretty good and definitely made some good points about the Industrial Revolution. She was still unsure. She didn’t like the idea of not knowing which were the “good” words and phrases. How was she supposed to know what were “powerful” words, or “interesting” words or “key phrases” for a theme she couldn’t even conceive of? My advice was to highlight anything that sounded funny or weird at first. Then maybe look at repeated phrases. Lastly, give herself a chance to appreciate an interesting (or repeated) turn of phrase. She still didn’t really see the point or the coolness. I showed her that often when I read I underline words and phrases I think sound cool. She wanted to know why. I have no idea why because I don’t really do anything with them… I just like them. It is like another one of my odd little collections of things. Somehow underlining them makes them something I can hold on to.

Perhaps I should do something with them after all. Here is found poetry from the collection of words and phrases I underlined in my latest book:

If he had a fault,
it was that of ostentation,
of seeking to be not only himself but a performance of himself as well.
The king,
however,
was not mad.
The king was not content with being.
He was striving to become.

Our favorite queen has the misfortune not to exist.
It is precisely in the end that her victory will be apparent to everyone,
for in the end none of the queens will exist any more than she does.
One,
who instinctively knew what to do to protect herself,
and also to conquer men’s hearts,
which so often turned out to be the same thing.
Thus,
in reality,
while it is true that she does not exist,
it is also true to say that she is the one who lives.
All she had was to be coherent.
Language upon a silvered tongue affords enchantment enough.

How much of his waking life had been infected by dreams?

This may be the curse of human race,
Not that we are so different from one another,
but that we are so alike.

Tell me everything,
and then you will be free.
She found his vanity seductive.
She was in love with his faults.

You haven’t stopped being a child,
you still think that home,
at the end of a long journey,
is a place where man finds peace.

The emperor fell silent.
Across time and space,
he was falling in love.
It was an educative pain that broke the last fragments of his trust in the people.
And with infinite delicacy,
she left him,
and he waited alone for the first,
loving touches of the dawn.

Across the Ocean Sea in Mundus Novus the ordinary laws of space and time did not apply.
You have given meaning to my books.
Then faded into white,
the emperor of dreams.

This may be the curse of human race,
Not that we are so different from one another,
but that we are so alike.

~From The Enchantress of Florence, by Salman Rushdie, 2008

dreamuslim

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About Amanda

I am repatriating expatriate trying to work it all out. Well, to work some of it out anyhow. I am writing here for sanity, focus and general over-sharing.
This entry was posted in Books, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to I do not like poetry, redux.

  1. Will says:

    And I still LOVE you. Thanks for that “special” shout out. I read everyone of your blogs and check for them daily.

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