Abecedarian Poetry

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Scout and me, a few houses ago. Harrow, 2012.

Abecedarian. This is my new favourite word. It refers, in this case, to poetry in which each word begins with the next letter of the alphabet. I wrote the following in my poetry class yesterday as part of a 3 minute poetry exercise. The topic is, again, Scout the cat, and her reaction to her recent m0ve to Beeston.

Emily x

Abecedarian Poem

As befits cats,
darting elegantly from
garden hideaways is:
Jungle Kitty.

Lurking,
missing nothing,
observing patiently.
Quietly.
Regally.

She tolerates us.
Very warily,
xenophobic
yet zen.

Ways Of Making Love

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If I could be half the woman that she is cat, the world could begin.

Another day, another poetry writing exercise: these ones coming from Bernadette Mayer and available at this link. These ones were slightly less bat-shit than yesterdays (see below post) and I’m not sure if it’s fair to say I did this one correctly, since it demanded a list of ‘ways of making love’ but I decided that was just a jump off point. I wrote this in 5 minutes and had just been reading some Charles Bukowski and Jack Spicer poems. With those poets in mind, I decided to leave the grammar a little sloppy and the tone a little conversational.

I’ve also included a poem below from Bukowski – about cats – because I like cats and I like Bukowski.

Emily x

Ways Of Making Love

Last night, as we lay in bed, I said
it was cute when you asked
if everyone’s as happy as us,
cute that you’re happy
with the fill of your cup.

I didn’t say that, you said,
I didn’t say happy,
I said I wonder if everyone
has as much fun.

Specificity is your M.O.
and proving a point is mine.
So what’s the difference, said I,
between happy and fun?
And I made you play a game,
at quarter past one. Called

‘Imagine if we weren’t fun’,
and I reminded you in monotones
to not forget to put the bin out.
The recycling one this week
And also we should really
get round to registering
with a GP
we’ve been here six weeks,
for goodness sake,
what if anything happened,
like a head cold.

But this is still fun, you said,
you’re lying on top of me
and naked in our bed.
You started digging your fingers
into my waist

You have to forget
the naked bit,
that’s not part of the game,
the game is the GP bit,
I tried to explain.
I’m proving that
happy and fun
are one and the same.

But your fingers on my waist
you’re always like this,
using tickles to undo me,
winning games with a kiss.

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“Their eyes are more beautiful than our eyes. and they can sleep 20 hours a day without hesitation or remorse.” – Bukowski, My Cats

 

startled into life like fire

in grievous deity my cat
walks around
he walks around and around
with
electric tail and
push-button
eyes

he is
alive and
plush and
final as a plum tree

neither of us understands
cathedrals or
the man outside
watering his
lawn

if I were all the man
that he is
cat–
if there were men
like this
the world could
begin

he leaps up on the couch
and walks through
porticoes of my
admiration.

Disorder Of The New World – An Experiment

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These pictures of my cat and me sharing a formal breakfast a few years ago are irrelevant but hopefully provide joy to you, my internet browsing friend. London, 2012.

Happy New Year!

The Spring term is approaching and with it, two new modules. One of those is poetry, which is frightening for a few reasons:

  1. There’s only 3 students (nowhere to hide)
  2. The reading list for the first session is longer than my arm
  3. I have never had my poetry critiqued or graded before
  4. The ‘experimental writing tasks’ we have been tasked with for the first class are bat-shit crazy.

One of the lists we were asked to pick from was reasonable. ‘Write a mirror image to a poem you already know and love’. ‘Write a sensory description of your breakfast’. ‘Write a list poem entitled Ways Of Making Love.’ The other list was less reasonable. It included suggestions such as ‘sit under a tree with a penny and some orange juice in your mouth, thinking about love, and write about poverty’ and ‘stand naked in a bucket of water by your front door; invite friends over and ignore them, simply staring silently at them through the keyhole’. Come on man, this is the kind of crap that gives poets a bad name.

So I chose one of the more reasonable exercises. It required me to do the following:

  1. Go to a bookshop and find the following sections: LAW, ROMANCE, HORROR, COOKBOOKS, GARDENING, HISTORY, CHILDREN, RELIGION, BIOGRAPHY.
  2. Pick a book at random from each shelf and turn to page 108.
  3. Read the page and write down the word you like most from the page.
  4. Sit down in the bookshop and write a poem.

So I dutifully hit up my local Waterstones and traipsed up and down the four floors until I’d found my nine sections and my nine words, then I sat down on a comfy sofa in the young adult section (cosier and quieter than the in-store Costa) and tried to write.

Normally, I come up with an idea first and the words follow. This activity was not my comfort zone, and I don’t think the results are particularly impressive. But the process was definitely interesting. At first I couldn’t see the purpose of picking the words like this – as opposed to finding 9 random words in the dictionary or from an online generator, say. But the process – of moving between sections, reading from the different genres, building the list slowly on my page – definitely had value. It allowed ideas to percolate, and got me thinking laterally about how to use the words as I gathered them.

The words I picked, by the way, were: DISORDER, HANDCUFFED, WATERING, THICK, DECAY, THROBBING, POACHING, CONSCIOUSNESS, UNOCCUPIED.

So here are the results – a first draft, definitely, but a fun project with an interesting outcome.

Emily x

P.S. if you want to try one of the exercises for yourself, here’s the link: http://somaticpoetryexercises.blogspot.no/2007/09/written-at-jason-zuzgas-request-for.html

Disorder of the New World

By the time I turned the final page
and regained consciousness
the world had changed.

The stealthy poaching
of the day; the slow decay
of sunlight had all occurred
behind my back. And now:

I was pinned to my chair.
Handcuffed; bound to stare
into the thick dark. The thick air
of the house was throbbing:
‘unoccupied’.
with a silence
as heavy
as company.

Through the window
In the garden’s dark disorder
My eyes alighted
On the glittering borders
Of a watering can.

And fixed on it. Daring
Some malevolent hand
To seize it.
And then to seize me too, who:

Handcuffed; adrift
In a world elsewhere
Had not observed
the world change
around her chair.