An empty bar,
possibly not even open,
had many beginnings -
of this, on the cobbles
outside the inn,
Richard kept his head down*
in a land as different
from Renoir’s world.
[Books used: Zona, Geoff Dyer; Wild, Cheryl Strayed; 7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 book, ed. Christopher Merrill; Sacre Bleu, Christopher Moore; Reamde,Neal Stephenson Appetites,Caroline Knapp]
It is National Poetry Month. The above was a quick, experimental poem. There are many conceptional, experimental approaches to poetry; I shall never discover all factions. I oft wonder; is it still creative work if using another’s words? Is it poetry? Perhaps, however, I don’t believe I can claim it mine.
In this brief experiment, I’ve taken the first sentence (after the ‘prologue’ and Chapter title/quote) of several books I’m reading, then utilized portions of the first sentence. I went in reverse alphabetical order, based on the author’s last name, when compiling the final ‘poem’. The sentence was taken in pieces; there was no word here, word there; only once did I use the whole sentence.*
What I did was a far cry from the collaborative efforts in, 7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 Book, edited by Christopher Merrill; however, it is what inspired the idea. The poets’ objective for said book was to work together to address the idea of ‘union’. Their ‘group write’ was inspired by the French Surrealists movement, more specifically, the 1920-30s work of Andre’ Breton. However, Breton was not the first to entertain the idea of the collective poem; that dates back to eighth century, when Japanese poets practiced chain poems, or renga in order to address one idea.
One wonders what collective efforts are possible in the digital age. A modern-day renga, or chain poem, based on one idea or object; could span the globe. Imagine, a poem written with a common objective; perhaps a word/sentence/syllable limit, but without knowledge of anyone else’s words. The final project would be most interesting; perhaps a bit of a disaster, but in a ponderous way.
That had me thinking about, The Rumpus, an online journal of this and that. I’m quite taken by the head ‘rump’ (so to speak) Stephen Elliott, whose writing is quite addictive. He has helped to revive the letter, as in, you actually get a letter in the mail. Normally, I don’t sign up (or pay) for many things, but I do enjoy supporting innovative arts, ergo, I’ve got mail (no, real deal, postage). It gets even better too, you see, Elliott has decided to help us write letters, to each other. We shall write a one page letter and send it back, where it will get redistributed to other letter responders.
Do you see where I may be going with this? Wouldn’t it be a fabulous collaborative effort to start a chain letter…no NOT that kind; but one where after a paragraph, you pass it on. The writer would work off of what the person before has written. What a wondrous tale one could have at the end. Surreal, indeed.
The wind has swirled a wild dervish, gusts of 40-plus, since 4AM. Now, almost midnight, and it is still going. The walls creak with the constant pressure. Tree branches whip the air, I hear their strain against the mighty blows. There is something within a wild wind that unmoors the senses. It leaves me restless; a rainless tornado that never touches land.