10.29.2005

didn't make the grant deadline, or, rather, decided not to try to pull an all nighter Thursday and work all day Friday on it, since I wouldn't do that for poetry itself

thus, did work on poetry Thurs., yesterday and last night instead. And instead of all the other chores that have to be done in this dogpile

here are some items that I gave to Bruna Mori's wonderful studetns at Sci Arc:


Some Thoughts on Form for Discussion


Is the tension between form and content an interesting tension, one which leads to a fruitful dialectic?

What are other “easy dualisms” that lead to similarly productive conversations?

What types of forms, in your experience, are most likely to yield results which have a ramification on content? Here “form” and “content” can be writ large – form or format or formula, content or presentation or flow –

What ideas or theories would you like to test by introducing them into such a conversation? Do you hope to achieve anything thereby? Any expectations? Any other ways to devise a test?

If not seeking to manufacture a device or test or experiment on ideas or language, what forms can you discover or find? Are these wedded to content? Can they be applied to different content, or can the same content be usefully put in a different form?

How can you best apply a given content, a given form, a given device, discovery, or finding? How can you best move from idea to art? Is that movement shaped by the idea, or should the movement / process shape the idea? How does this interplay “go”?

old talk from synthink I also handed out


Realism? Romance? Querying Chaos and Constraint

I want to informally introduce some of my thinking around this project and suggest some things for you to try or "test out" in this arena.

"Oos" serves as a transition between projects of mine. One of my larger projects takes public domain materials -- most online -- in the "literary canon" from Piers Plowman to Leaves of Grass and beyond and "reads" them, finds poetry in them ("found poetry"), translates them -- increasingly unreliably. Essentially what I have been doing is superimposing 20th Century literary history on texts -- artifacts of literary history. Another project reworks, with increasing levels of intention, medieval, renaissance, and early modern women's writing, which is, by and large, religious in nature.

The poems I'm about to read are written from anonymously-written prayers. They are merely ascribed to St. Bridget. The title of the prayers -- Oos -- obviously inspired my constraint -- each begins with the poetic "o" -- as did the typical female gender / vowel binary, and some nice puns, avowal, vow --

These particular prayers are interesting: the include the questions Jesus asks during the passion AND unlike many prayers, they are less questions in and of themselves -- they are commands -- that God remember. In a certain sense, then, the original prayers AND my constraints AND the final result -- are like queries. Queries in Stored Query Language or even those you enter into search engines online are both commands and questions. These prayers are my text bed or data; the constraints, my queries. As I read and reread the result, the poems, I marvel at the way the language use -- the mix of imperative and interrogative -- remains through my cutting and rearranging and rewording.

In Buddhism, all schools, there is quite a focus on asking the right questions and arriving at the answers which are there all along -- the questions change the questioner and the system being queried.


If all of you take the same source as I did and impose the same constraints that I did, you will end up with different answers. If you take the same source and design your own constraints, you will design different constraints. If you were to choose a version of the source -- this exists in several different versions of LATIN and of English -- some of it older English -- you might use Quick Latin to do a machine translation -- you would end up with a different result.

In a certain sense, how different is this from taking the same zen koan -- what is the sound of one hand clapping or some such -- and meditating on it?

Back to my title, this type of poetry writing is generally viewed as anti-romantic, but the lack of control over the result, the movement from the known into the unknown -- is essentially romantic WHILE the way language operations are depicted is more realistic than anything else -- the poems display their machinery or theory in a way -- you can see what the constraints and procedure for writing them was by reading them.

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