Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Finding Poetry, Part II

My last post promised to share some excerpts from my found poetry pages "next week."  Next week has turned into this week, thanks to an overly hectic work schedule and a much-needed, short vacation up to Taos, New Mexico.  Despite having lived in New Mexico for exactly seven years this summer, I had never been to Taos before so I was thrilled to finally get there.  Everything--from galleries to shopping to scenery-- was even better than I imagined it would be, and I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in that part of the country.   

Before I start though, I just want to mention a quick side trip.  On our last day I particularly wanted to see the Mabel Dodge Lujan house not just for its lovely Pueblo-style architecture but also for its many D.H. Lawrence associations.  My husband was a good sport driving me up and down a few wrong roads until we finally found the place, listening all the while to me raving about "D.H. this and D.H. that..."  Even as we parked and stepped out onto the crushed gravel walkway leading to the main house I was still talking about D.H. and Frieda, rather loudly, too, and when we opened the door:  a poetry class was in full swing.  Ooops.  I think they were having some kind of "silent session," very quiet, very Zen, very un-D.H. Lawrence.  I apologized for interrupting (all the while wishing they could have put up a sign...) and settled instead for a walk through the grounds before deciding to head back to Albuquerque. 

Halfway through our walk my husband said something about T.E. Lawrence--like, when exactly had he been to Taos.  It was one of those surreal moments when you realize you've been so wrapped up in your own little world you haven't given a single thought to whether or not you're being understood.  Here I was thinking of fierce literary arguments and thrown plates, and my husband had been thinking of sand dunes, the first World War, and Lawrence of the Pueblo.  And that to me is what found poetry is all about: taking fresh meaning from unexpected sources.  So in that wonderful spirit of chaos, here we go, starting with:

1.  Music poetry.  Several years ago I kept a journal solely on music and sound.  I wanted to write only poetry, essays, and short stories on the theme of music.  Using my X-acto knife to cut through magazine columns I found:

A harmony of
        wind trails
                   your spirit.

Softly open to
  the song of
      how old you are and
         travel happy.

Another small piece reads:

In the mirror
  I learned
    music making.

Deafening, whomping
drowning out the song.
Burnt sacrifice.
No miracles, but
  some kind of knowledge.

In a third piece I went to my word pool of cut out words and phrases all relating to music and sound that I kept in a basket.  Taking them out at random I came up with:

Conversations with

Dancing goats
   Learning to fly
They fall to earth.
They are surrounded by
operas in the dark
Voices and visions,
hushed tones.

Animals as normal people
No more ox tongue performance
The first call
It just screams.
Makes you think.

2.  In my last post I mentioned how I like to concentrate on the theme of food and using food magazines as my resources.  Here is an example where I used food magazines to find words and phrases as I did in the sample above.  Because I spread the cut out words across a larger journal page, I've included slashes to represent where I joined phrases on the same line:

I remember/the robust tanginess
of chilling buttermilk

cooking barefoot,/when I was young,/in search of
miraculous/baskets/bowls, and
a paper heart.

Pruning roses/freighted with winter
snowflakes and hearts --
a place where/chaos is/luxury,
maybe even peace.

How do you discover/other worlds
the secret
glimpses of the past?

Lately, I have begun to suffer
from a nineteenth-century/serenity
a permanent
Good things emerge,
connected by design.

3.  Lastly, here is a small example, again using my X-acto knife, that I think sums up my feelings of what it's like to work with found poetry:

The secret
life of

Less than a
a spirited quest.

Tip of the Day:  Try making your own found poetry.  Don't worry about making sense--just make yourself happy.  That's all creativity should be about anyway.  Have fun--and if you'd like to share your work, please let me know!  I'd be more than happy to put up a link to your own blog in my next and future posts.


Marshy said...

hi valerie..thanks for giving me the shout..this was a really interesting piece...kinda reminded me of Bowie who cuts out words and mixes them up to create song lyrics..thanks pete

D.M. SOLIS said...

I very much enjoy the "how to" aspect of this, and how you've included examples. I also like the way you break the process down into this bite-size piece. I have to remember that. The bonus of the field trip at the opening is really inviting. So that's a "how to" within the "how to." Good modeling here. Thank you very much, peace, Diane

KjM said...

"a place where/chaos is/luxury,
maybe even peace"

I can't say why, but the above just struck me, and a chord sounded.

I like your idea of found poetry - a whole new way to read!

Thank you.