sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Posts tagged ‘Art’

Bernadette Meyer’s Writing Experiments

newmts2

Bernadette Meyer is an avant-guard poet associated with the New York school of poets.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/bernadette-mayer

http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/06/04/specials/koch-ny.html

I recently discovered her list of journal and writing experiment ideas:

 

PEPC LIBRARY

Bernadette Mayer's List of Journal Ideas:

Journals of:
* dreams
* food
* finances
* writing ideas
* love
* ideas for architects
* city design ideas
* beautiful and/or ugly sights
* a history of one's own writing life, written daily
* reading/music/art, etc. encountered each day
* rooms
* elaborations on weather
* people one sees-description
* subway, bus, car or other trips (e.g., the same bus trip written about
every day)
* pleasures and/or pain
* life's everyday machinery: phones, stoves, computers, etc.
* answering machine messages
* round or rectangular things, other shapes
* color
* light
* daily changes, e.g., a journal of one's desk, table, etc.
* the body and its parts
* clocks/time-keeping
* tenant-landlord situations
* telephone calls (taped?)
* skies
* dangers
* mail
* sounds
* coincidences & connections
* times of solitude

Other journal ideas:
* Write once a day in minute detail about one thing
* Write every day at the same time, e.g. lunch poems, waking ideas, etc.
* Write minimally: one line or sentence per day
* Create a collaborative journal: musical notation and poetry; two writers
alternating days; two writing about the same subject each day, etc.
* Instead of using a book, write on paper and put it up on the wall (public
journal).
* and so on ...

Bernadette Mayer's Writing Experiments
* Pick a word or phrase at random, let mind play freely around it until a
few ideas have come up, then seize on one and begin to write. Try this with
a non- connotative word, like "so" etc.
* Systematically eliminate the use of certain kinds of words or phrases from
a piece of writing: eliminate all adjectives from a poem of your own, or
take out all words beginning with 's' in Shakespeare's sonnets.
* Rewrite someone else's writing. Experiment with theft and plagiarism.
* Systematically derange the language: write a work consisting only of
prepositional phrases, or, add a gerund to every line of an already existing
work.
* Get a group of words, either randomly selected or thought up, then form
these words (only) into a piece of writing-whatever the words allow. Let
them demand their own form, or, use some words in a predetermined way.
Design words.
* Eliminate material systematically from a piece of your own writing until
it is "ultimately" reduced, or, read or write it backwards, line by line or
word by word. Read a novel backwards.
* Using phrases relating to one subject or idea, write about another,
pushing metaphor and simile as far as you can. For example, use science
terms to write about childhood or philosophic language to describe a shirt.
* Take an idea, anything that interests you, or an object, then spend a few
days looking and noticing, perhaps making notes on what comes up about that
idea, or, try to create a situation or surrounding where everything that
happens is in relation.
* Construct a poem as if the words were three-dimensional objects to be
handled in space. Print them on large cards or bricks if necessary.
* Write as you think, as close as you can come to this, that is, put pen to
paper and don't stop. Experiment writing fast and writing slow.
* Attempt tape recorder work, that is, recording without a text, perhaps at
specific times.
* Make notes on what happens or occurs to you for a limited amount of time,
then make something of it in writing.
* Get someone to write for you, pretending they are you.
* Write in a strict form, or, transform prose into a poetic form.
* Write a poem that reflects another poem, as in a mirror.
* Read or write a story or myth, then put it aside and, trying to remember
it, write it five or ten times at intervals from memory. Or, make a work out
of continuously saying, in a column or list, one sentence or line, over and
over in different ways, until you get it "right."
* Make a pattern of repetitions.
* Take an already written work of your own and insert, at random or by
choice, a paragraph or section from, for example, a psychology book or a
seed catalogue. Then study the possibilities of rearranging this work or
rewriting the "source."
* Experiment with writing in every person and tense every day.
* Explore the possibilities of lists, puzzles, riddles, dictionaries,
almanacs, etc. Consult the thesaurus where categories for the word "word"
include: word as news, word as message, word as information, word as story,
word as order or command, word as vocable, word as instruction, promise,
vow, contract.
* Write what cannot be written; for example, compose an index.
* The possibilities of synesthesia in relation to language and words: the
word and the letter as sensations, colors evoked by letters, sensations
caused by the sound of a word as apart from its meaning, etc. And the effect
of this phenomenon on you; for example, write in the water, on a moving
vehicle.
* Attempt writing in a state of mind that seems least congenial.
* Consider word and letter as forms-the concretistic distortion of a text, a
mutiplicity of o's or ea's, or a pleasing visual arrangement: "the mill pond
of chill doubt."
* Do experiments with sensory memory: record all sense images that remain
from breakfast, study which senses engage you, escape you.
* Write, taking off from visual projections, whether mental or mechanical,
without thought to the word in the ordinary sense, no craft.
* Make writing experiments over a long period of time. For example, plan how
much you will write for a particular work each day, perhaps one word or one
page.
* Write on a piece of paper where something is already printed or written.
* Attempt to eliminate all connotation from a piece of writing and vice
versa.
* Experiment with writing in a group, collaborative work: a group writing
individually off of each other's work over a long period of time in the same
room; a group contributing to the same work, sentence by sentence or line by
line; one writer being fed information and ideas while the other writes;
writing, leaving instructions for another writer to fill in what you can't
describe; compiling a book or work structured by your own language around
the writings of others; or a group working and writing off of each other's
dream writing.
* Dream work: record dreams daily, experiment with translation or
transcription of dream thought, attempt to approach the tense and
incongruity appropriate to the dream, work with the dream until a poem or
song emerges from it, use the dream as an alert form of the mind's activity
or consciousness, consider the dream a problem-solving device, change dream
characters into fictional characters, accept dream's language as a gift.
* Structure a poem or prose writing according to city streets, miles, walks,
drives. For example: Take a fourteen-block walk, writing one line per block
to create a sonnet; choose a city street familiar to you, walk it, make
notes and use them to create a work; take a long walk with a group of
writers, observe, make notes and create works, then compare them; take a
long walk or drive-write one line or sentence per mile. Variations on this.
* The uses of journals. Keep a journal that is restricted to one set of
ideas, for instance, a food or dream journal, a journal that is only written
in when it is raining, a journal of ideas about writing, a weather journal.
Remember that journals do not have to involve "good" writing-they are to be
made use of. Simple one-line entries like "No snow today" can be inspiring
later. Have 3 or 4 journals going at once, each with a different purpose.
Create a journal that is meant to be shared and commented on by another
writer--leave half of each page blank for the comments of the other.
* Type out a Shakespeare sonnet or other poem you would like to learn
about/imitate double-spaced on a page. Rewrite it in between the lines.
* Find the poems you think are the worst poems ever written, either by your
own self or other poets. Study them, then write a bad poem.
* Choose a subject you would like to write "about." Then attempt to write a
piece that absolutely avoids any relationship to that subject. Get someone
to grade you.
* Write a series of titles for as yet unwritten poems or proses.
* Work with a number of objects, moving them around on a field or
surface-describe their shifting relationships, resonances, associations. Or,
write a series of poems that have only to do with what you see in the place
where you most often write. Or, write a poem in each room of your house or
apartment. Experiment with doing this in the home you grew up in, if
possible.
* Write a bestiary (a poem about real and mythical animals).
* Write five short expressions of the most adamant anger; make a work out of
them.
* Write a work gazing into a mirror without using the pronoun I.
* A shocking experiment: Rip pages out of books at random (I guess you could
xerox them) and study them as if they were a collection of poetic/literary
material. Use this method on your old high school or college notebooks, if
possible, then create an epistemological work based on the randomly chosen
notebook pages.
* Meditate on a word, sound or list of ideas before beginning to write.
* Take a book of poetry you love and make a list, going through it poem by
poem, of the experiments, innovations, methods, intentions, etc. involved in
the creation of the works in the book.
* Write what is secret. Then write what is shared. Experiment with writing
each in two different ways: veiled language, direct language.
* Write a soothing novel in twelve short paragraphs.
* Write a work that attempts to include the names of all the physical
contents of the terrestrial world that you know.
* Take a piece of prose writing and turn it into poetic lines. Then, without
remembering that you were planning to do this, make a poem of the first and
last words of each line to see what happens. For instance, the lines (from
Einstein)
* When at the reception
* Of sense-impressions, memory pictures
* Emerge this is not yet thinking
* And when. . .
* Would become:
* When reception
* Of pictures
* Emerge thinking
* And when
* And so on. Form the original prose, poetic lines, and first-and-last word
poem into three columns on a page. Study their relationships.
* If you have an answering machine, record all messages received for one
month, then turn them into a best-selling novella.
* Write a macaronic poem (making use of as many languages as you are
conversant with).
* Attempt to speak for a day only in questions; write only in questions.
* Attempt to become in a state where the mind is flooded with ideas; attempt
to keep as many thoughts in mind simultaneously as possible. Then write
without looking at the page, typescript or computer screen (This is "called"
invisible writing).
* Choose a period of time, perhaps five or nine months. Every day, write a
letter that will never be sent to a person who does or does not exist, or to
a number of people who do or do not exist. Create a title for each letter
and don't send them. Pile them up as a book.
* Etymological work. Experiment with investigating the etymologies of all
words that interest you, including your own name(s). Approaches to
etymologies: Take a work you've already written, preferably something short,
look up the etymological meanings of every word in that work including words
like "the" and "a". Study the histories of the words used, then rewrite the
work on the basis of the etymological information found out. Another
approach: Build poems and writings form the etymological families based on
the Indo-European language constructs, for instance, the BHEL family: bulge,
bowl, belly, boulder, billow, ball, balloon; or the OINO family: one, alone,
lonely, unique, unite, unison, union; not to speak of one of the GEN
families: kin, king, kindergarten, genteel, gender, generous, genius,
genital, gingerly, pregnant, cognate, renaissance, and innate!
* Write a brief bibliography of the science and philosophy texts that
interest you. Create a file of newspaper articles that seem to relate to the
chances of writing poetry.
* Write the poem: Ways of Making Love. List them.
* Diagram a sentence in the old-fashioned way. If you don't know how, I'll
be happy to show you; if you do know how, try a really long sentence, for
instance from Melville.
* Turn a list of the objects that have something to do with a person who has
died into a poem or poem form, in homage to that person.
* Write the same poem over and over again, in different forms, until you are
weary. Another experiment: Set yourself the task of writing for four hours
at a time, perhaps once, twice or seven times a week. Don't stop until
hunger and/or fatigue take over. At the very least, always set aside a
four-hour period once a month in which to write. This is always possible and
will result in one book of poems or prose writing for each year. Then we
begin to know something.
* Attempt as a writer to win the Nobel Prize in Science by finding out how
thought becomes language, or does not.
* Take a traditional text like the pledge of allegiance to the flag. For
every noun, replace it with one that is seventh or ninth down from the
original one in the dictionary. For instance, the word "honesty" would be
replaced by "honey dew melon." Investigate what happens; different
dictionaries will produce different results.
* Attempt to write a poem or series of poems that will change the world.
Does everything written or dreamed of do this?
* Write occasional poems for weddings, for rivers, for birthdays, for other
poets' beauty, for movie stars maybe, for the anniversaries of all kinds of
loving meetings, for births, for moments of knowledge, for deaths. Writing
for the "occasion" is part of our purpose as poets in being-this is our work
in the community wherein we belong and work as speakers for others.
* Experiment with every traditional form, so as to know it.
* Write poems and proses in which you set yourself the task of using
particular words, chosen at random like the spelling exercises of children:
intelligence, amazing, weigh, weight, camel, camel's, foresight, through,
threw, never, now, snow, rein, rain. Make a story of that!
* Plan, structure, and write a long work. Consider what is the work now
needed by the culture to cure and exact even if by accident the great
exorcism of its 1998 sort-of- seeming-not-being. What do we need? What is
the poem of the future?
* What is communicable now? What more is communicable?
* Compose a list of familiar phrases, or phrases that have stayed in your
mind for a long time--from songs, from poems, from conversation:
* What's in a name? That which we call a rose
* By any other name would smell as sweet
* (Romeo and Juliet)
* A rose is a rose is a rose
* (Gertrude Stein)
* A raisin in the sun
* (Langston Hughes)
* The king was in the counting house
* Counting out his money. . .
* (Nursery rhyme)
* I sing the body electric. . .
* These United States. . .
* (Walt Whitman)
* A thing of beauty is a joy forever
* (Keats)
* (I summon up) remembrance of things past
* (WS)
* Ask not for whom the bell tolls
* It tolls for thee
* (Donne)
* Look homeward, Angel
* (Milton)
* For fools rush in where angels fear to tread
* (Pope)
* All's well that ends well
* (WS)
* I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness
* (Allen Ginsberg)
* I think therefore I am
* (Descartes)
* It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,. . .
* (Dickens)
* brave new world has such people in it
* (Shakespeare, The Tempest, later Huxley)
* Odi et amo (I hate and I love)
* (Catullus)
* Water water everywhere
* Nor any drop to drink
* (Coleridge)
* Curiouser and curiouser
* (Alice in Wonderland)
* Don't worry be happy. Here's a little song I wrote. . .
* Write the longest most beautiful sentence you can imagine-make it be a
whole page.
* Set yourself the task of writing in a way you've never written before, no
matter who you are.
* What is the value of autobiography?
* Attempt to write in a way that's never been written before.
* Invent a new form.
* Write a perfect poem.
* Write a work that intersperses love with landlords.
* In a poem, list what you know.
* Address the poem to the reader.
* Write household poems-about cooking, shopping, eating and sleeping.
* Write dream collabortations in the lune form.
* Write poems that only make use of the words included in Basic English.
* Attempt to write about jobs and how they affect the writing of poetry.
* Write while being read to from science texts, or, write while being read
to by one's lover from any text.
* Trade poems with others and do not consider them your own.
* Exercises in style: Write twenty-five or more different versions of one
event.
* Review the statement: "What is happening to me, allowing for lies and
exaggerations which I try to avoid, goes into my poems."

 

I did start one, but quickly became hooked by write a rhyme:

Something Ventured, Nothing Gained?

Nothing gained through careless ventures,
spin the wheel and lose a dime
If you want a big adventure,
buddy, you can take on mine

I could do without the pounding
of my heart and sweaty hands
rather I would have abounding
quiet life that goes as planned

So as you ski down that mountain,
maybe crash into a tree,
I’ll relax beside a fountain
with a tall glass of iced tea

 

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My Fairy Muse

fairy-bliss-book
Fairies, dancing through the light that breaks through the forest. Calling others to join them. How can I resist? I love fantasy, magic, flight, and butterflies. Fairies combine all these elements into delicate, enchanting beings. I may not believe in real fairies, but of all the paranormal creatures they are the ones I wish most for. It’s no wonder they inspire me. From my bliss book to home decor to my writing. Here’s some excerpts.

from my poem “Concrete Forest”

Stench of pigeons
rouses me;
I uncurl from the nook
at the statue’s collar,
flap my wings
to rid night’s dust.

The birds share their crumbs–
pigeons and a fairy,
what a quaint family.

From the novel “Fly With Me”

The main character, Alexa, collects dollhouses for a fairy refuge in her front yard. Here’s an outsiders glimpse inside her home.

vines-by-nene-thomas
Sunshine poured through the bay window, creating a cloud of fairy dust over the round dining table. Placed evenly around the table were five mismatched place settings, all in vivid pictures. A plate of fairies here, sitting atop a larger one depicting lovebirds. One had a wine glass with a pewter dragon wrapped around the base, while another had a yellow plastic cup with red airplanes. The only thing connecting them all was the image of flight. Folded over the back of each simple wooden chair was a homemade name card. Unusual names, such as Casternon and Lalla-Lu, written in purple ink.

One long shelf of marble extended above the fireplace. The contents had as little sense as the place settings. Bottled flies, a dollhouse, dried hot peppers. The hardwood floor beneath had long scratches half-covered by what looked like dragon scales. Almost hidden behind the door was a pair of feathered wings hanging from a hook. No two of the sewn feathers were alike.

From the novel “Fey Moon”

Lamaric’s stocky form stood out against the slender grace of most Fey. Jex assumed that’s why the djinn’s best friend was Lue Nae–a runt pixie, four inches to her siblings’ five.

After Shenorill left for another meeting, Jex interrupted the friends’ game of hide and seek. “Why do the Voices meet so oft?”

Lue Nae popped out of the vase she hid in, her dual set of filmy wings trembling as she hovered. “The prophecy of course. The time is getting so close! Everyone is talking about it.”

“What prophecy?”

Lamaric raised his bushy red eyebrows. “The return of the Goddess, Mother of the Elements. Satu knows the tale.”

Jex frowned. “She never told me that one. I only know of Eleuteria from your creation myths. Why would she leave in the first place?”

“Those stupid enchanters.” Lue Nae did a flip kick at an imaginary foe. “They couldn’t stand to see one of their kind in love with a goddess. She was banished to save her life. I wasn’t born yet so never even got to meet Her.” The pixie flittered over to sulk on Lamaric’s shoulder, her cottony white hair drooping around her face.

fairy-figurines

mary-sig2 (1)

Enter the World of Haibun

The torii of Itsukushima Shrine, the site's mo...

I learned a new literary term yesterday, haibun, when I was reading a story by another writer in a group I belong to. It turns out that haibun is a relatively new literary form that combines prose and poetry, notably haiku. It’s been around since 17th century Japan but is relatively new to Westerners.

According to Wiki, “A haibun may record a scene, or a special moment, in a highly descriptive and objective manner or may occupy a wholly fictional or dream-like space. The accompanying haiku may have a direct or subtle relationship with the prose and encompass or hint at the gist of what is recorded in the prose sections.”

So I thought I’d try writing one. Here it is.

Master of Pain

A friend can block pain like turning off a light switch. I ask him, how does he do it? Easy, he says. I focus my mind completely on the task at hand, so deeply that I block out everything else. I’ve been able to do this since I was a young boy.

That explains it. How he achieved so much on playing fields, working through pain to win gold. Great success in board rooms with marriage crumbling around him. Calm and collected in storm of chaos while others cry like croaking ravens. I’m envious.  Why can’t I do that?

Hand grips glass tightly
He likes to watch birds soaring
Feelings numb like hand
Later I find out he was once a twelve-year-old, giving CPR to his dying father.
Maybe I don’t need that light switch after all.

©2012 Lin Neiswender

 

A New Way of Looking: Ekphrasis

I learned a new word  recently, courtesy of a friend and Wiki:

Ekphrasis or ecphrasis is the graphic, often dramatic, description of a visual work of art. In ancient times it referred to a description of any thing, person, or experience. The word comes from the Greek ek and phrasis, ‘out’ and ‘speak’ respectively, verb ekphrazein, to proclaim or call an inanimate object by name.

Nowadays it might be a snapshot of a scene, a work of art, or any creation that puts you in the head of the participants or an object and tell’s you what is actually happening within it.

So I thought, why not pick one of my collages as a prompt and write about it?

The one I chose is called “La Fleur” and here it is:

La Fleur

©2008 Lin Neiswender

Here is my poem about the collage:

The Photograph

Rose Pink my Papa calls me, his little blossom
I smile inside but not for the photograph
The buttons on my shoes are too tight and pinch my toes

My little dogs are lucky, they can run free with bare paws
On the fresh green grass, and rush into the house
When they are tired, heads out the window
Listening to the bird sing

But even they are dressed too fine for comfort
Tight bows of Mama’s fine silk ribbon tied
Around their necks, choking them as does
My lace collar choke me

Still a little girl’s first love
Is her Papa, and so I endure
The scratching of the lace,
The tightness of the shoes

All so Papa can take his photograph
Of his La Fleur Rose

©2012 Lin Neiswender

 

 

Make Visible: From Consumer to Creator

I bet you have lots of media in your home, like CDs, books, DVDs, even art—all made by someone else or a group of other people.  Have you ever considered making your own media, your own art?  As the rash of consumerism that spreads over the country at this time of year attests, there is a huge market for the products of creativity.  I ask you to consider making your own music, writing your own books, directing your own movies and decorating your walls with your own art.  Right away, there are objections:  You don’t have the talent, money, time, skills, contacts to do this!  Maybe not.

The creators of media (art) aren’t any different than you and me.  “They put their pants on one leg at a time,” as my dad used to say.  Maybe they have a vision to share, maybe not, maybe they have time, talent, money and all that good stuff, maybe not.  It’s not about becoming a writer, musician, artist, filmmaker.  This is about being creative and expressing yourself.  We will still buy media, that’s not in question.  It’s time to be creators of art rather than only consumers of art.  Be brave!  You don’t have to share just yet.  Get out pen and paper, a guitar, paint and paintbrush or video camera.  I double dog dare you!

English: paintbrush

Image via Wikipedia

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Collage and Creative Writing: Common Threads

Success is Certain collage

Success is Certain ©2008 Lin Neiswender

My writing and my art are so entwined that it is hard sometimes to separate them. As with writing, I’ve been collaging since I was a child. Collage is an old art form, revived in the 20th century as modern art, consisting of portions of other works of art, text, purchased or handmade papers, embellishments or found objects glued to a background to make a new work of art.

I think of the process of creating a collage, or a poem, or any form of writing as largely intuitive and subconscious. It is in the reworking of the raw material that the new form is created.

For example, when I collage I may have a general idea of what I want to create, so I go through my boxes of clippings and images, pulling out anything that supports the idea and seems somehow to go together, or just strikes my fancy at the time. I select my surface and get my materials together- scissors, glue, anything I want to add to the work like ribbons or coins or what have you.

Then I start cutting out the images or text I like, seeing how they might go together. This influences the background I create, as there may be colors or a pattern I am especially drawn to in connection with the images.

I make the background, then select and place the items I have selected, switching them around, cutting some to combine two images into a cohesive unit. When I am satisfied, I start gluing them down. Sometimes I have to partially lift one image to place another behind it to add depth; sometimes I remove an image that just isn’t working.

The process is much like editing a piece of writing, cutting and rewriting and rearranging until it works.

I’m especially drawn to an intuitive process called Soul Collage, where 5 x 8 cards are created on mat board. It’s done entirely intuitively, usually without even a starting idea, just pulling what images appeal to me. This form of collage does not use text at all, leaving the interpretation of the card up to the viewer. The card’s creator asks and answers a series of questions about the card and it can provide some amazing insights into one’s psyche.

To me, that is a collage’s magic, the personal interpretation. When I made the collage that appears on the cover of the Lifelines book- long before the book was ever thought of- I was looking into the ocean of ideas for inspiration in many areas of my life, seeking the mermaid for answers. “Express!” is the only word in the collage, and that, I think, is the essence of the creative experience: express yourself, reveal yourself, and find your truth.

 

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