Forget your anger, rustled the leaves
as rain washed over them.
Forget the hurt that has lain
long in the hollow of your bones.
Easy enough for you to say I railed, fist
raised, tender all over as a bruise.
Once I believed that things could be amulets:
suds that prismed as bubbles, floating away
from laundry I beat on a stone. Feathers
that birds dropped in flight,
sliver of moon worn as a silver
fetish around my neck, the crackled
wrecks of turquoise taken up from the soil.
And if I gave back my anger, what then?
O life, o body, I want to sleep as I
haven’t done in years— but not so deeply.
In response to Morning Porch and small stone (233).
A great knocking in me
and I am down, I am wood.
Hopes have to be settled on shore,
but the water being almost
at low water, fear is sure.
I urge the surgeon on,
my heart heavy for not hearing my heart.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 3 April 1660.
What a wonderful surprise from Nic S. and Marc Neys (who periodically ducks into a phone booth and emerges as artist and filmmaker Swoon). I am gobsmacked. And I’m very glad I placed a Creative Commons license on the collection that explicitly permits derivative works. (Not that Nic and Swoon couldn’t have just contacted me for permission — but that would’ve spoiled the surprise!) I love the fact that listeners to the poems now have the option of hearing them in a voice other than the poet’s, and — especially interesting for love poems — in a female voice. I tried to include enough particulars to make the people in the poems (Rachel and I) seem real, but not too many to prevent identification from readers who don’t know us. This video hugely advances that. And by deploying images that complement the images in the texts without attempting to merely illustrate them, the film preserves and extends the poem’s allusiveness and essential freedom rather than leaving it tightly bound to the writer’s original vision and voice.
Marc posted some process notes to his blog. Here’s a snippet:
Nic send me the audiofiles of her readings. Very good readings.
I wanted a track with a simple melody that pops up a few times against the backdrop of atmospheric disturbance. I went for this one;
and added a stream of atmospheric noises, clicks and crackles.
For images I went for a combination of simple images of nature, birds, the ocean, movement and structures. Most of it I filmed myself and I added a few pieces of footage by Matthew August, H.Hattori, Swee Sin Eng.
In the editing proces I chose to let slowed down footage of in and out of focus images (with a small touch of ‘zen’) go into battle with a sometimes frantic and nervous way of editing against the reading and the background noises.
And back on March 23, Nic was kind enough to blog about Twelve Simple Songs as an example of multi-format poetry publishing, something she’s been championing for several years. Nic also happens to be one of my favorite poets, so I’m pleased and humbled that she thought enough of my work to record it in her own voice and talk Marc into making a video. Now I just need to finish tweaking the PDF for the printer and order a second proof. If all goes well, a dead-tree version of the collection should be available to purchase at cost by the middle of the month.
Rice grains in the pot,
emerald skins of peas; fine
mesh of steam under the lid—
In the hollow around
the light socket, cobwebs
thin as sewing thread—
Assortment of buttons I saved
in a box; cracker crumbs
to thicken the soup—
Beads I looped
on my daughter’s broken
violin string: bracelet
of new-found things.
In response to thus: For all that is lost.
I take leave of trouble
with a dinner of oats,
get one window to the sea
and another to the deck
like a king.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 2 April 1660.
Readers of my Pepys erasure poems might be interested in Pulitzer Remix:
Eighty-five poets are creating found poetry from the 85 Pulitzer Prize-winning works of fiction as part of Pulitzer Remix, a 2013 National Poetry Month initiative. Each poet will post one poem per day on this website during the month of April, resulting in the creation of more than 2,500 poems by the project’s conclusion.
Pulitzer Remix poets are challenged to create new works of poetry that vary in topic and theme from the original text, rather than merely regurgitating the novels in poetic form. Posted texts will take the form of blackouts, whiteouts, collages and more, and will range from structured to more experimental forms.
The website’s design is a bit confusing: it’s not immediately obvious how the category and author index pages work, with identical images turning into links to different posts only on mouse-over, and there are no “next” and “previous” links on single post pages. On the other hand, the email subscription options are terrific, if you want to follow just a few of the participating poets. (Since it’s a WordPress site, you can also subscribe in a feed reader by adding “/feed/” to the end of any author or category URL.) It’s hard to imagine anyone will have the time to read all 85 poems every day, but based on what I’ve sampled from the first two days’ worth, the archive is going to be — as the kids would say — epic. Pulitzer Remix is likely to become a real milestone in the history of erasure poetry. Check it out.
I ate all summer, as much as I could.
Tell me a king will come and soldiers
drink in the streets.
I stay a bear.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 1 April 1660.
Tonight, as I read in bed
of The dynamic between falling
and being caught— a kind
of ecstasy— the eye
shutters toward the window,
toward the old church steeple
with its peeling paint
and broken cornices, scudding
clouds still visible against
a rapidly darkening sky—
And then the tremor
in the foot,
along the leg, foretelling
how the body drops into
the well of sleep.
In response to small stone (230).