Friday, February 24, 2012

Valentine's Day Poetry

Shall I compare thee to a creative writing class? It was sonnet day on Monday, but first we did a five minute task on the senses and a sense of place. Task: Write a short fragment (poetry or prose) about a specific place wherein you try to include all of the 5 senses, possibly making some interact as Healy and Flaubert have.
The morning light glares off chilled flagstones, bare feet slap, hurrying across.
Dust swirls with a hint of stale wine, overlaid by the rich smell of today's coffee.
Laughter, the clink of cups, half hidden by the dappled greenery.
 These five minute tasks are brutal. My usual approach is to sleep on something before writing it, preparing it in my mind. If I make a standing start, I've barely got going after five minutes. So this is deliberately fragmented, just getting down whatever is uppermost in my mind. The concision that the poetry has been teaching is useful here.

So onto the homework task. Task: Write a complete sonnet, then re-write the content in another poetic form (any style of your choice...).[1] If any of you wish to write a more conventional, love-driven sonnet for February 14th, please feel free to focus on that.

February 13 1994

Let me tell you a hundred things that make
Me love you. (Is a hundred too many?
Too obsessive? Or too few, the mistake
Describing my love inadequately?)

Your eyes (no, don’t start with the eyes again.
The hair, the nose, the mouth... maybe I’ll start
With less tangible attributes and then
Try and write the words contained by my heart.)

I need words to describe your perfection
(Wait! I haven’t even come up with one
Reason and this needs lots for completion;
I’m nowhere and the time is almost gone.
I guess I’m not cut out for poetry.
I’ll draw her a card for Valentine’s Day.)
So it's a sonnet about Valentine's day. Generally liked: the brackets, indicating the two voices. Also the date-as-title, hinting at the autobiographical content. Of course I had to rework it, in my case into a pantun.

Unspoken/Unwritten

If I had better words then I’d use them
One hundred reasons to prove I love you
Saying what I want is quite the problem
But every word I can’t quite write is true

One hundred reasons to prove I love you
My poem just ends up in confusion
But every word I can’t quite write is true
Being stupid or procrastination?

My poem just ends up in confusion
Description isn’t working out for me
Being stupid or procrastination
Out of time, what I draw will let her see
Description isn’t working out for me
Saying what I want is quite the problem
Out of time, what I draw will let her see
If I had better words then I’d use them
"Out of time, what I draw will let her see" was the most troublesome line for me, and also the class. No one was able to fix it without changing the sense of it, in one or other of it's incarnations. I could always not repeat it exactly, but why am I working within the constraints of a form only to throw them away when it gets tough? The slash in the title drew argument as well. Bonus!

So that's that. Next week, we capture the essence of a place using the senses. Did you want a task? You did? The one at the top is good, but instead you could use all five senses where you are, and think of some words to describe what you sense.

[1] The task notes continue with "This is an age-old tip for creative writing - force yourself to write similar content but in different forms and any genre or structure you wish," in amongst the date and format and number of copies stuff.

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