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Posts tagged ‘Online Writing’

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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Mary’s Poetry Month Success

I was very pleased with my poetic productivity in April. Here’s the breakdown.

I competed in daily challenges on the Sims 3 forums. These consisted of weekly themes, and daily styles/forms. Not all poems had to be newly written for the contest.

  • Wrote 19 new poems, and entered all but one day.
  • Won twelve days (half of those were ties).
  • Earned 2600 points ($26 of Simpoints which I got in stuff for my game).
  • 1332 words of poetry written.
  • Compliments on my poems, as well as small gifts from other contestants.
  • Four new Sims friends (fellow poets).
  • Overall winner (most wins and points).
  • Eight poems packed with potential that need polishing.

I’m so glad I participated in the Sims 3 Forums rather than the Poetic Asides blog this year. It was much more intimate, and I think that helped to inspire me as the month went along.

I also composed two Book Spine poems, one which I shared in my last post. The other is one I did for the library contest. Below is my poem showing what the library means to me. It was a finalist (top ten of over 100 entries).

marys-library-poem

Brink of Chaos
The Great Escape
Gateways
Haven

Doing the book spine poem at the library also had another benefit. See that bottom book? I grabbed it solely for the title. I glanced at the front cover blurb due to the butterfly. Went on instinct, and checked out the book. Read it in two days. LOVE. The book is HAVEN by Kristi Cook. It’s a YA about a girl with precognition, who transfers to a school where everyone has some sort of psychic ability. In the author’s own words: Think X-Men meets Twilight.  Loved the characters, the fresh spin on the plot. Could not put the book down. Immediately checked out book two, MIRAGE. Now eagerly waiting for book three to come out (this fall!).

To end the post, I will share with you one of the poems I wrote last month. A Villanelle.

The Author

A goddess, many worlds do I create
to fill with danger, passion, magic, flight,
with words alone manipulating fate.

A lonely princess on a grand estate,
a dragon in his lair just out of sight,
a goddess, many worlds do I create.

Each character is given a strong trait
then thrown into some unforgiving plight;
with words alone manipulating fate.

When countless suitors seek to procreate,
the dragon takes them out with just a bite.
A goddess, many worlds do I create.

A hero uses wit to then debate
and keeps the dragon occupied all night,
with words alone manipulating fate.

The dragon tricked to eat some poisoned bait,
the princess freed to her own tale rewrite.
A goddess, many worlds do I create,
with words alone manipulating fate.

mary-sig2

 

 

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To Market, to Market- Sending Out Your Poetic Babies

Marketing Plan

So you’ve written a poem. Congratulations and job well done! But now what?

Time to polish your work till it gleams like a new copper penny, and send it out into the world.

Editing is important, as there is always a better, fresher way to word your thoughts,  fix up a place where the rhythm is off or a rhyme could be improved, add this or remove that, or rearrange some lines. Get feedback from people you trust and work until the poem feels right. Then you’re ready for phase three: marketing.

Some markets or contests require you to pay a reading fee, or buy the book of poetry if they publish your poem. My personal preference is not to send to them. Here’s why: they may not be reputable. If it’s a big, well-known market, perhaps it is worth a shot. But if not, you have just given money to someone who will just pocket it and could care less about publishing your poetry, even if it is excellent. That said, time to look at some markets.

“Where?” you cry, “I don’t know any writing markets!” Believe me, there are plenty. I recommend you sign up at Duotrope to get their weekly fiction and poetry market listings. I also recommend you join CRWROPPS Creative Writers Opportunities List at Yahoo Groups, as well as join a local poetry group. You can find some near your area in Meetup.

Read the listing you pick to submit to thoroughly and make sure they accept your kind of poetry. Look for their submissions page and be sure you follow it to the letter. Nothing will get your poem tossed in File 13 faster than thinking their rules don’t apply to you. They have to read a lot of submissions so don’t give them a reason to eliminate you from the get-go.

So what do you need besides a market listing?

First, you need a Bio. Make it a 50-or-so word biography that tells something about you –  something quirky or intriguing is good, funny is even better, as well as any relevant publishing credits. You can go the online ezine route- easier to break into than a print venue- to help you get  enough poems published to give you a good bio.

Second, you need a cover letter or email that you can modify to fit the particular market you are submitting to. Be polite and professional. Try to find out the editor’s name if you can, if not, “Dear Editor” will do.

Be brief and mention the title of the poem you are submitting for consideration and any relevent information about it. End by thanking them for their time. If they asked for contact information, give it. Then include your poem in the format they requested, which may require you to use a certain font or type of document. Sometimes this is in the body of the email, sometimes as an attached WORD or other format document. If they request a typed snail mail submission, be sure your name and email are on the poem unless they tell you otherwise- envelopes and submission letters can get lost.

Last, keep a record of what poem you sent to what venue and when. Also make a note of how soon to expect a reply from the publisher, if given in their submissions page. If you don’t hear by that time, or 3 months if no deadline is given, a polite inquiry is in order.

When it sells, make a note of the publication date and go celebrate! If it gets rejected, make a note of the date and send it right out again to your second choice. Continue till you make a sale or use up all your markets. But remember, new markets come out every month!

So here’s to your first sale! I’d love to hear about it.

 

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